In the digital era, channel partners must transition to a cloud first model or they risk getting left behind. Resellers, service providers and ISVs should harness the massive opportunity and long term business value presented by becoming complete cloud solution providers.

[easy-tweet tweet=”#Cloud services eliminate cost, scale and reliance barriers and enable businesses of all sizes to compete”]

Why? Because cloud services are rewriting the rules of business. They are making it easier for businesses to operate, interact and transact in the market, increasing efficiency and flexibility for employees and opening up the borders to expansion. Cloud-based services eliminate cost, scale and reliance barriers and enable businesses of all sizes to compete more successfully. For resellers, cloud services open the doors to recurring revenue streams and a sustainable business model focused on building integrated solutions, value-add and a seamless lifecycle experience for customers.

Over time, more and more IT services will be delivered from the cloud. This provides traditional resellers with the opportunity to expand their offering and profit from delivering cloud services and building value-add using professional services. The latest research from Microsoft and IDC revealed that Microsoft’s cloud-focused partners are growing at double the rate of non-cloud resellers, and enjoy one and a half times more gross profit. When making this transition, channel partners must embrace a new role – a complete cloud solution provider that can provide end-to-end solutions and value add across the customers’ lifecycle, becoming a trusted advisor.

This new landscape can be challenging to navigate. To help partners get started on their journey to the cloud, Michael Frisby Managing Director of Vuzion and Cobweb Solutions, shares his key considerations for the channel to bear in mind when switching to a cloud first model.

Adopt a strategic approach

Cloud services and partner programmes are driving significant disruption across the IT channel. It’s vital for partners to have a strategy in place for how they are going to develop their organisation’s structure, sales and service capabilities to embrace the cloud opportunity.

This means adapting their business model to a new way of creating, delivering and managing services and value-add, as well as altering the way in which they work with customers to address their individual business needs. IT service providers need to move from a transactional service to an integrated solution offering in order to provide more value to customers.

The key to success lies in working with a provider who proactively helps their partners to build on their capabilities to drive sustainable profitable growth, rather than being just a marketplace to transact through

Collaboration is key

If IT service providers don’t yet offer the services their customers require, they need to find a partner that can help them source new services and capabilities in the shortest time possible. The right partner is ideally one with experience in packaging, delivering, managing and supporting cloud services and who can easily transfer these capabilities.

Resellers, services providers and ISVs should partner with a value-add cloud aggregator who is expanding their portfolio of cloud services for delivery through channel partners. A provider which delivers the full spectrum of offerings across the cloud platform will enable partners to bring new cloud service sales capabilities and provide complete cloud-based solutions, as well as enhancing go-to-market and customer life cycle management services.

Future proof your business

Being able to source complementary cloud and professional services quickly will be vital to building a sustainable channel business model. Partnering with a cloud services provider who was born in the cloud is key. By so doing, channel partners will benefit from their heritage and expertise. Not only this, experienced providers can package up the support and knowledge to help traditional IT resellers, SIs and ISVs to make the successful transition to reselling cloud services.

The key to success lies in working with a provider who proactively helps their partners to build on their capabilities to drive sustainable profitable growth, rather than being just a marketplace to transact through. Finding a cloud ecosystem which offers integrated solutions instead of individual services is essential, and will enable traditional IT partners to gain real value from the growing cloud landscape and keep their customers at the cutting edge.

Remember, the customer experience is vital to succeed

In this changing landscape channel partners will always be relevant but to stay competitive their role as trusted advisors will become ever more critical. There is no compromise. Customers want trusted advisors that pull together and package the best services into solutions and deliver them to their specific needs.

Partners must evolve from being a transactional IT provider to a complete cloud solution provider, helping customers to maximise the benefits they deliver. Evergreen cloud services will mean the end of one-off upgrade projects. Resellers need to adapt their customer engagement, revenue and profit models to deliver ongoing value to end users. Those that help their customers to unlock the value of their IT investments will be the most successful.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Partners must evolve from being a transactional IT provider to a complete #cloud solution provider”]

The right provider can help partners to successfully manage the customer lifecycle and speed up go-to-market time and growth rates. This will enable partners to serve their customers with mature cloud services and solutions, combined with streamlined operations and experienced customer care. By so doing, partners will be able to make greater margins with less risk than by constructing their own services portfolios from scratch. This will enable them to focus on building their own value add on top of cloud services, whilst being confident their business model is future proof.

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Michael Frisby, Managing Director, Cobweb Solutions Michael’s early fascination with technology led him to a BSc in Computing. With over 20 years of IT and cloud sales and business development experience with PA Consulting, HP and Microsoft, Michael’s expertise lies in combining technology and customer requirements into commercial solutions. At Cobweb, he is responsible for leading the company's transition as a value-add cloud aggregator. He previously lead Microsoft’s SMB Managed Reseller channel across Western Europe, accelerating the transition to selling cloud services, and building the Office 365 Syndication business to one million users. He is an enthusiastic squash player and avid Formula 1 fan.