With end-user IT spend rapidly shifting from on-premise technology towards software-as-a-service (SaaS) and the cloud, the channel is coming under growing pressure to embrace digital transformation.
Channel partners that embrace this imperative today will be able to position themselves for strong growth in an evolving market.
By Avika Ramdhani, director of accountants, partners and alliances at Sage Africa & Middle East
According to Gartner, growth in enterprise IT spending for cloud-based offerings will be faster than growth in non-cloud IT offerings up to 2022. This demands that resellers, systems integrators and other companies in the technology channel rethink how they sell and provide services in a changing world.
Here are four ways technology resellers or consulting firms can reinvent their businesses and ensure they thrive in an era of ongoing disruption:
Find new ways to add value
The changing nature of the IT market means many reliable income streams of the past are starting to dwindle. For instance, many cloud-based solutions offer easier and faster configuration than traditional ERP software, meaning lower consulting and implementation revenues. Resellers should look at new ways of adding value to create new revenue opportunities and to drive higher levels of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
One example is offering a one-touch digital support process that makes it fast and simple for customers to log service requests without needing to spend hours on a helpdesk. Another is to uncover opportunities to provide business consulting and advisory services to clients looking to transform their IT environments.
Transform sales and marketing processes
The shift towards the cloud and SaaS means many organisations are moving away from large-scale forklift IT upgrades and upfront capital expenditure towards purchasing software and IT services on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis. That means IT sales and marketing need to evolve from the days of long sales cycles and big sales towards annuity revenues.
While client presentations, roadshows, conferences and the other tools of business-to-business sales and marketing will always have a role to play, the winning IT channel companies of the future will be considered masters of digital marketing. Among the most important skills to invest in for the future, therefore, are the ability to generate leads from digital channels and to effectively use data to drive client acquisition and retention efforts.
Adopt new ways of working
It’s a true case of the cobbler’s children, but IT resellers are often a little behind the curve in using the latest tools to streamline collaboration and automate processes. Technology companies should be looking at ways they can use technology to deliver a better experience for colleagues and customers alike. That may mean becoming more open to new modes of work, such as telecommuting and using cloud-based tools to collaborate internally and with clients.
Be prepared to experiment and take risks
Getting into a rut and finding it difficult to change the business is something that happens to IT companies as much as it does to mining, manufacturing or financial services organisations. Technology resellers need to embrace a culture that values risk-taking, innovation and experimentation, even if they feel comfortable with their current performance.
That means to be open to the opportunities of adopting new revenue models, experimenting with new sales techniques and even adding new partners or services to the mix. Resellers should not allow the business to stagnate but should instead be looking to the horizon to understand emerging technologies and how the purchasing behaviour of their customers are changing.
Finding partners for the journey
A key element for every reseller looking to transform its business is the support of vendor partners and their readiness for a cloud-first IT industry. They should partner with vendors that can offer them innovative cloud technologies, a robust partner ecosystem, and partner programmes designed around the needs of the digital era.