By Dave Hauser, Vice President of Cloud Services, PlumChoice
Currently, an untapped opportunity exists for channel partners — one that will create a higher value exchange with customers and position businesses to take advantage of the cloud: outsourcing.
In today’s highly prolific and cost-conscious business environment, organizations are looking to migrate to the cloud to save time and money, add productivity, and better preserve their data. This need for increased efficiency has led IDC to forecast that the cloud market will reach $200 billion by 2018.
But many channel partners are missing this chance to help their customers realize the full potential the cloud offers and how it can help to secure reoccurring sales and customer loyalty.
Much more is expected from a channel partner beyond just the upfront sale. Cloud developers like Microsoft now require resellers to offer comprehensive services to support end users, but many channel partners are not positioned to deliver technical support for many solutions. Without this help, end users can become frustrated, adoption and usage will lag, and subscriptions and sales will decline.
Should I look to partner? Following are the three primary areas channel providers should focus on:
- Services that are not core to your business: You know your customer base and how cloud offerings can add flexibility and save costs. Unlike cloud developers, you “own” the end customer relationship. But helping businesses get up and running in the cloud is not a core competency for many channel partners. This includes securing activation, ensuring adoption and delivering technical support at scale, and many more. However, you may not be building your team with cloud enablement services in mind, and you may not be built organizationally or technically to help your customers fully adopt cloud solutions. Knowing what your core capabilities are — and what they are not — is the first step to making sound decisions around partnership options. Consider partnering with a cloud enablement services organization that can look at the entire customer lifecycle to identify services critical to the value you provide your customers. You will find there are core services your business can perform and services you can acquire through partners to build a comprehensive services solution.
- The economics of building a comprehensive services portfolio. Services like pre-purchase consultation, onboarding, migration, and ongoing support of your customers’ cloud solutions may not be among the services delivering the highest margins for your business. In many cases, you may even be losing money. These lower-margin services sap resources and detract from your ability to generate greater customer profitability. By developing a partnership you can focus on the areas of your business that drive higher margins, including upselling customers on new services, developing new solution offerings, and acquiring new customers. At the same time, you are often able to reduce your cost structure while also decreasing opportunity costs.
- Services that have coverage for timeframes when you have a harder time responding: Organizations migrating their business to the cloud need rapid, round-the-clock, 365-days-per-year access to support resources so they can troubleshoot issues. Most channel providers are not equipped to deliver this level of support on their own, especially off-hours and during holidays. Outsourcing these ongoing support services to a third party not only allows your company to ensure higher customer satisfaction, but also helps your customers drive higher activation, adoption, and usage of their cloud solutions.
By requiring channel partners to provide comprehensive cloud enablement services to the end user, developers have heightened the expectations on channel partners. The good news is, in this new complex environment smart channel partners have an opportunity to differentiate their business and further enhance relationships with customers by offering top-level support throughout the customer lifecycle.
You can offer services like pre-purchase consultation and migration that give you a foothold into a customer’s journey to the cloud, then upsell that customer with more comprehensive services such as customer training and managed services. These progressive sales help drive greater customer lifetime value and adds profitability to your cloud business.
Partnering with a cloud services enablement organization can be a key part of this strategy of transforming into a service provider, focused on helping businesses achieve the promise of the cloud.