It is difficult to argue any more that the cloud has not entered the mainstream of business IT. Indeed, businesses in every sector and of every scale are rapidly adopting the ‘cloud first’ mentality that even until comparatively recently was the preserve of early adopters and pioneers. Businesses are moving away from implementing all-encompassing monolithic IT systems in favour of more flexible end-to-end cloud solutions.

For the channel, these shifts pose a unique set of challenges. With revenues from traditional technology sales declining and in some areas, disappearing altogether, (for example, prices for traditional telco bandwidth sales are roughly halving every five to seven years), businesses must transform to build new revenue streams from cloud by educating and commissioning sales teams in new ways.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Prices for traditional #telco bandwidth sales are roughly halving every five to seven years” user=”comparethecloud” usehashtags=”no”]

Channel players who grasp the business transformation opportunity, will be able to grow far more revenue via new cloud models than with the traditional sales model. Of course there are opportunities to sell additional managed services, but the real opportunity lies in the potential to deliver services and applications through intelligent platforms that simplify and consolidate IT functions for end users.

Key drivers for change

Businesspeople, driven by their experiences with large, expensive, complex IT systems, are increasingly looking to simplify their IT departments, consolidate functions and adopt an opex-based delivery model. However, changing business attitudes to IT delivery are not just driven by desires to move away from painful up front capex costs to more ‘pay as you go’ models – there are also strong operational and productivity drivers.

Mobility and flexibility are key watchwords for businesses today – both in terms of optimising their business processes, but also improving productivity by giving employees the ability to work when and where they want to.

Traditional IT sales feel a lot more cumbersome than the world of individualised ‘microtransactions’

Alongside this trend of mobility, there’s also the factor of consumer experience driving business change. Traditional IT sales, involving RFPs and the involvement of the board, feel a lot more cumbersome than the world of individualised ‘microtransactions’. Consumers, used to the ‘app store’ and ‘always available’ cloud services such as Google Drive, now increasingly expect to be able to provision things they need in a granular way, and at the click of a button. This attitude has quickly shifted into the business world as users look for ways to achieve higher levels of productivity and collaboration with colleagues.

The integration challenge

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Of course there are already a myriad of cloud tools on the market designed to serve this growing demand: from productivity tools to network and communications management software. It is already common for businesses to be making use of at least one or two of these services – either within certain groups, or across the whole organisation.

However, beyond ‘dipping a toe’ in this way it is simply not realistic for businesses to expect to be able to reliably and securely manage and scale its IT provision if it is based on an ad hoc collection of disparate tools relying on wildly different platforms.

Instead what businesses really need are consolidated cloud platforms, which can quickly and easily integrate new services and be managed via a ‘single pane of glass’. Delivering this sort of simplicity to enable the flexibility, agility and scalability businesses want, requires advanced orchestration and automation capabilities working behind the scenes. This allows self-service and automated set-up of almost anything.

Grasping the opportunity

[easy-tweet tweet=”Servicing the demand for flexible self-service #IT provisioning is a huge opportunity for the #channel” usehashtags=”no”]

To return to my earlier point, servicing this demand for flexible self-service IT provisioning represents a huge opportunity for the channel. Rather than relying on one off sales, self-service centralised cloud infrastructures open up new progressive, cumulative revenue streams.

By giving end-users the power of self-service, combined with the ease of automated service provisioning and delivery, resellers will generally experience organic growth with minimal input from their sales teams. A good example of this is a business self-provisioning a higher bandwidth package (for example, when they employ additional staff or when Wimbledon is on) that, once delivered, rarely tends to be reset to original levels. Other examples are allowing the self-service of voice features, such as ‘hunt groups’ on telephones, or the setting up of security groups on a wireless network.

It’s a win-win for both parties

It’s a win-win for both parties. Customers feel more in control and can easily service a genuine business need without reams of paperwork and laborious requisitioning processes; resellers can focus on service and support rather than having to continuously upsell and push product.

Piecemeal, siloed cloud tools simply will not deliver what businesses need in the future. Consolidation, integration and simplification will be the key watchwords in the near future. The demand from businesses and users is clear. Now channel players need to grasp the opportunity.

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Joe Murray, Channel Director, essensys

In the early 1990s, BT offered Joe £100 a year more than Ford as sponsorship at university and he has spent the last 20 years in telecoms and IT.

Joe was the founding member of Viatel’s Channel business in 2003 and enjoyed being the principle contributor in the team that grew that Channel from zero to almost £20M revenue over 5 years. More recently, Joe has been Head of Sales at MDNX and then Easynet, running a sales team responsible for growing a Channel base in excess of £50M turnover with over 1000 resellers.

Joe has known the team at essensys since the company was formed in 2006. When it became clear that essensys needed someone to drive the Channel business, bringing Joe in was an easy decision. Joe is known across the industry for his leadership skills, speaking his mind and always keeping the customer at the centre of all decisions. He strongly believes in running a high energy team that is fun to work in and delivers on promises.

Joe is married with three children and lives in Cheshire. His sporting interests have included playing Gaelic football, however in more recent years this has calmed as he has taken up running.