To Stay Relevant in Today's Modern Cloud-Ready Era, Partners Must Evolve to Meet Customer Demands
Nick McAllister, Senior Director, EMEA Channel & Partner Go To Market, VMware
In today’s multi-cloud era, we are opening the door for customers to achieve both freedom and control; to forget the historic question ‘do I innovate OR do I retain control of my IT?’ and replace it with what we call the power of ‘AND’.
It’s a significant technological and mindset shift for customers and their IT teams that are used to traditionally always having to compromise. Which means it’s such a big opportunity for partners - to help support organizations as they navigate this newfound freedom.
There’s also the opportunity for partners themselves to innovate. In fact, it’s more than an opportunity – they should see it as imperative. To stay relevant in today’s multi-cloud world and deliver true change for their customers, they must adapt. As Yves Sandfort, CEO at comdivision puts it, “we are no longer driven by hardware and software release cycles but by the cloud. Cloud evolves much faster and so – if we want to be a modern cloud-ready partner – we have to evolve faster too”. But what does this evolution look like?
Going Beyond Technology
Technology is no longer just about what it does, but what it can enable. It’s a topic I touched on in a recent conversation I had with Opher Bettan, VP Engineering, Computing & Technology at Israel-based Systems Integrator Bynet, which you can watch below.
As Opher commented, “it’s no longer enough to deliver a simple technology stack – customers are looking to partners to provide expert-based services that allow them to harness the latest technologies”. All in the aim of driving new capabilities, thinking and innovation.
This manifests in two ways. Partners need to work closely with customers to understand what technology services need to deliver to create value for the business, not only IT. For some, that will mean training their employees to have those business-led conversations with customers. At the same time, one of the biggest challenges that Sandfort identifies is that “most IT teams are still not seen as a value generator”. As well as enabling their own people, partners also empower in-house IT teams to reposition themselves as driving value not just keeping the lights on.
Which is why Consulting and Professional Services will become a far greater tool in a partners toolkit moving forward. As customers look to increasingly rent or subscribe direct from vendors, partners will need to be ready to provide services in support of these agreements to ensure that they work for the customer.
Secondly – as discussed with Bettan – partners, resellers and systems integrators need to be able to deliver those services and bring together all the technologies that are critical to digital enterprise into one coherent strategy. That requires a range of specialisms, meaning partners are having to deepen and broaden their skillsets, quickly. For example, where field engineers once specialized in Microsoft, today they have to specialize in open source. The increasing adoption of Kubernetes is also driving demand for a more streamlined relationship between development and operations. In other words, a DevOps approach.
Upskilling opens up new opportunities for partners to generate revenue and position themselves as full-service partners that are equipped with what Yves describes as “the overall vision and view”. This includes being able to plug in-house skills gaps that plague many end user organizations thanks to the ongoing skills shortage.
Our Master Services Competencies (MSCs) are designed to foster this upskilling, and allow partners to capitalize on the opportunities that new technologies and new vendor solutions present. When achieved, they have a transformative impact on customers’ confidence; not only that the partner they’re working with has been approved by a trusted brand, but also that the solutions they’re are offering are at the leading edge of enterprise IT.
Innovating in Parallel
The advent of multi-cloud and the freedom it offers have taken the need to innovate at pace and stuck a rocket to it. Partners that aren’t putting in the work now to evolve their services alongside technological change and adapt to the changing needs of customers will simply be left behind. Innovating alongside customers by building unique skills and competencies is what will drive the success of customers and the partner community in the multi-cloud era.
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