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If there’s going to be a theme of the year, apart from Covid-19, then “everything as a service” is likely to be one of the contenders.
The idea of providing both software and hardware through a subscription model has been gathering momentum over the past 18 months, with HPE committing to making everything consumable that way by 2022 and other vendors stepping up in similar ways.
Distribution has also been moving in that direction, with Exclusive Networks launching its X-OD offering earlier this month and the likes of Tech Data and Ingram Micro pushing their own platforms and marketplaces.
At Nuvias, the task of coming up with an everything-as-a-service strategy has fallen to long-time staffer Karl Roe. In his position as vice-president of customer success and digital transformation, Roe is tasked with overseeing where the distributor operates in this area. As such, he has become increasingly busy.
Roe has been around long enough to have seen different incarnations of the as-a-service model, including application software provision, software as a service (SaaS) and on to its current situation, and there have been changes that have had channel implications.
“This isn’t anything new, but what is new is the focus on what the customer requires,” he said. “That has changed in our industry over the past few years, particularly in the last two years. It’s become much more of a focus that outcomes are super-important, rather than technology. The channel has to build solutions that are dependent on customer success.”
That outcome-based approach has made the as-a-service model more deliverable, and in some ways more real, according to Roe.
What it means for Nuvias is a focus on making sure any services delivered to resellers will contribute to increasing the chances of customers getting the results they want.
“Internally, we were trying to transform ourselves – both our people and the way we operate – by looking at this as customer success as a service. That’s the most important thing for Nuvias to contribute to the channel. Our everything-as-a-service models and our deliveries are all about customer success – actually delivering customer success as a service is what everything as a service can be and should be,” said Roe.
“What is new is the focus on what the customer requires – outcomes [have become] super-important, rather than technology. The channel has to build solutions that are dependent on customer success”
Karl Roe, Nuvias
“This is beyond the platform. This isn’t just about having a platform to deliver subscription management; it’s about having solutions and services that power it. The platform is part of that proposition, but it isn’t the proposition,” he added.
Nuvias has focused on support, adding more services around the products it offers, which has benefited the resellers and vendors it works with.
“Our model is really about enablement, about building a bridge, so that our partners can be self-sustainable if they wish to in the future, consuming our services and pay-as-you-go and subscription models. It [gives them] a cost-effective bridge to build services around this proposition with the vendors that we distribute,” he said.
“Ultimately, it’s working with our partners and vendors to design the right kind of service model that’s a fit for that partner and a fit for that vendor,” he added.
The services and approach being developed by Roe and his team is an important part of the distributor’s business going forward.
“It is a critical part of our strategy,” he said. “Our key is trying to enable the partner ecosystem to make sure they can scale.”
With his digital transformation hat on, there are areas where the business can use technology to improve its own operations.
Roe said it was early in that cycle, but it was looking at how it engaged and operated its supply chain and whether there were opportunities to interface with partner platforms and systems to reduce the friction in the supply chain.
“We can see huge upside for the partner and for us, so that we have an end-to-end supply chain that’s digitised from the reseller to the distributor and the distributor into the vendors themselves. Again, we’re only just starting that cycle,” he added, indicating that there would be a wave of change coming soon.
The other challenge is to make sure there is an opportunity to use automation or technology to improve processes.
“It is about gaining trust. I think we’re still at the beginning of that curve, where we start to see trust built-in in automated solutions,” he added. “There is some opportunity around that.”
Building services and taking advantage of digital transformation take time, but clearly, much of the channel is at a similar stage to Nuvias, and many are looking at how they can change the approach to improve the chances of customer success.
“There are some super wins from delivering customer success in a more digital manner to the user. That means the services piece becomes super strategic to what the channel has to do and becomes more scalable than it’s ever been before,” said Roe.