As the traditionally on-premise world of business management software undergoes massive change, the demand for new cloud services is on the up. There is a different appetite in the market; traditional upfront big capital costs are being replaced by the desire to pay only for what is used, much like we pay for our gas or electricity bills. Consequently, many channel businesses are dealing with the prospect of ‘adapting or dying’ when it comes to the cloud.
To embrace the cloud, channel businesses need to adopt a different approach; from service delivery, to billing and internal processing, selling cloud packages requires a step into the unknown. But what are the challenges that resellers are facing in the quest to move to the cloud, and how can they ensure a smooth transition to meet these new demands?
Essentially, resellers wanting to offer cloud services need to build new platforms and design new services, which have the appropriate support, billing processes and service delivery to support their customers’ demands. As businesses look to source a variety of different cloud services, increasingly from one trusted supplier, it can be hard for resellers, especially those on the smaller side, to have the funds and resources to do this and gain access to ‘best-of-breed’ services. For example the demand for the same experience across a mobile platform presents challenging security issues. Without the right technology you leave your business at risk. We have been working with SAP Mobile Secure to ensure customers can have confidence in their mobile offering.
New payment processes
With new service packages in the cloud, the way resellers price their offerings will also need to change to cater to customers’ demand to buy what they need, when they need it. For example, payment processing models will need to reflect subscription-based pricing, and other internal processes, such as reporting, will need to adjust to suit this monthly injection of income.
While developing new services and changing internal processes to form an all-in-one offering is, of course, important, channel businesses must ensure they are able to execute and successfully bring this offering to market. They will need to understand exactly what their customers want and position and market their offering to meet this. Without previous experience in the cloud market, this presents a high risk.
It is often these challenges that can prove to be too big an obstacle to overcome, especially for smaller channel partners that do not have the time, resources or funds to invest in an entirely new business model. This is where having a value-added distributor supporting you can really make a difference. Moving into new markets, there is always going to be an element of risk, but it is about how you minimise that risk as much as possible. Finding a partner to support you through this challenging transition can make the whole process much simpler, with lower risk and lower cost.
Here at Arrow, we have developed ArrowSphere to help the many channel businesses struggling to make the move to the cloud. We believe we have filled a gap in the market by providing the platforms required to support cloud services, wrap-around marketing support, financial support, consultancy on setting up new processes and easy access to ‘best of breed’ services for those businesses that are not set up to take advantage of the cloud. Essentially, we help resellers maximise their chances of succeeding by eliminating the pain points associated with transitioning to the cloud.
Channel business, Ascarii is a great example of a partner who has been able to do exactly this. It now offers its customers the security of predictable payments and the flexibility of streamlined processes by working with ArrowSphere to develop a trusted and easy to use SAP Business One OnDemand cloud service targeted at SMEs. In the first few months of trading this was rewarded by huge demand from across different industries, and especially from those micro and small businesses of one to 30 employees that were previously reluctant to move to the cloud.
Ultimately, the demand from end-users is driving this shift in the market and, challenges or not, channel businesses cannot ignore it. Cloud is here to stay so it is just a case of choosing the right route to market.
Dave Ellis, director of strategy at Arrow ECS, UK and Ireland