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In a short space of time digital tools have become completely ingrained into every aspect of our working and home lives. We can now book a restaurant with an app and then leave a review with a tap of a button or pay for a taxi using our smartphone. Whether they are used in a professional or personal sphere, these technologies were created to speed up and simplify every day processes.
The lightning speed of innovation means the number of different technologies available to businesses and consumers is rocketing year on year. Take apps for example: according to research t[JV1] he app store is expected to more than double its size by 2020, reaching five million apps. Compare this with the number of apps that were created in its first year: a mere 5,000. While we benefit from there being an app for almost anything, keeping track of these technologies and choosing the best option is increasingly challenging.
In the workplace, confronted with a saturated market of products to choose from and a rising pressure to ditch obsolete hardware and infrastructure in favour of as-a-service delivery models, IT departments face complex decisions going far beyond just choosing the right type of technology. What’s more, the IT department is no longer the only party with authority over technologies used in the workplace. Further complicating the technological landscape is the reality that employees often download technologies outside of the corporate infrastructure to help them with their individual work.
Hybrid IT estates
Led by these significant advances in technology, customers are continuously investing in new IT solutions – such as cloud computing – to effect organisational change. However, running new, external services across legacy infrastructure can prove problematic. Customers are managing increasingly sophisticated yet complex ‘hybrid estates’, which can cause revenue or customer-impacting problems. Already faced with other complications - whether that be an increase in ransomware attacks, rising inflation, or volatility in the political sphere - customers are searching for a touch of simplicity.
So, how do we make their lives easier? In a complex world where time is money, partners will need to re-think how they can work with their customers. This will involve growing and flexing with their unique needs. This means not just offering point solutions but helping them with their transformation by offering solutions to provide a platform for growth and innovation while supporting legacy environments.
Be the ‘Amazon’ of vendors
With the rise of giants such as Amazon and eBay, the retail industry set a precedent for a change in consumption habits. Consumers lead increasingly busy lives, and expect to be able to find everything in one place and purchase instantaneously with the tap of a screen.
This trend is being reflected across the channel as customers seek a simple approach to digital transformation. Whilst previously, customers were buying kits from resellers or outsourcing completely, customers are favouring a pay-as-you-grow, OPEX approach to investment. The complexity of their IT environments means their requirements will be diverse – and they don’t want to have to look for solutions in numerous places for solutions. Consequently, the channel ecosystem will need to change to accommodate new demand.
The answer to this lies in strategic collaboration. Customers are looking for a ‘one stop shop’ service, and a partnership between Managed Services Providers (MSPs) and vendors can help fill the gaps in your offering and cater to a comprehensive range of customer needs.
A comprehensive offering
The truth is, as the landscape around them rapidly shifts, partners who lack the resource to build new offerings will need to adapt to stay relevant. Those who sell products alone may struggle to succeed in a world where businesses are rapidly ‘consuming’ services.
Channel partners will need to take the time to assess their own capabilities and USPs and match them against customer demand. What are the missing pieces in the package on offer to your customers? For example, does your business provide data protection for your customers, but no recovery services? Do you offer IaaS but not the ability to provide a private cloud solution? Choose your collaborations carefully, ensure you’re covering all the right bases. It is important to find a service provider who can fill the gap in your portfolio so that you remain relevant, enhance your competitive differentiation and most importantly retain and grow your customer base.
Work with vendors and consultants for mutual benefit
A partnership should be underpinned by synergy and collaboration. Work side by side with vendors and consultants - rather than working against them - in order to provide the whole suite of solutions to your customers to get those sales. Your relationship should be based on teamwork, rather than competition. Equally, in the most beneficial partnerships, all parties should be able to operate together without their business models being compromised.
Remember, a ‘one stop shop’ is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Launch a multi-pronged approach, but be in a position to tailor the service according to the customer. You and your partners will also need to be able to work together to understand and adapt to individual customer needs, offering a bespoke solution.
With an abundance of performance-enhancing digital tools raising the bar in every industry, your customers will be feeling the sting of increased competition. They often don’t have the time or the expertise to work out which products and services they need in combination, before scouting out the best person for the job. Forging partnerships that will allow you to offer the whole package will position your offering head and shoulders above the rest.