Introduction: Making the right business case

An overview of ARN's Business Solutions roundtable

The way the IT industry positions and sells technology to business has undergone significant change over the years. There are two overarching reasons: Offerings have matured, gained complexity and infiltrated the corporate environment, delivering new opportunities and business cases for different types of customers. Simultaneously, knowledge and experience of IT systems has expanded at the customer end. Organisations and their users now rely on technology to conduct everyday business. More recently, the proliferation of consumer-based technologies like social media, and smartphones such as the BlackBerry and iPad, are changing expectations of what IT can do and how we interact with it.

ARN brought together representatives from the mid-market and enterprise integration space, along with distributors and vendors, for a roundtable to look at why it is so important for the channel to position and sell technologies around business efficiency today. One of the biggest lessons learnt during the economic downturn was that selling a technology simply because it was the latest and greatest thing wouldn’t cut it anymore. While there were still customer dollars on the table, solutions had to clearly demonstrate upfront cost savings, operational and productivity efficiencies and risk mitigation in a short-term timeframe to get over the line.

Although Australia has stepped out of the shadow cast by the GFC, the need for tangible ROI and measurable business benefits when acquiring IT remains a must. In order to be successful, IT providers must have an in-depth understanding of their customer’s business and operational pain points, and be able to position suitable technologies with this in mind. This also means moving out of the IT department and engaging with every business unit and C-level executive as you can.

While the roundtable discussion began around selling techniques and customer drivers, we quickly progressed into how the transition to cloud computing and on-demand applications and infrastructure would affect IT providers. Attendees agreed cloud offerings represented a dramatic shift in the way IT is sourced, delivered and paid for, as well as the way we sell technology. And all agreed it was another example of how technology has become a business service.

Like the transition from a product sales mentality to a services one, technology providers are facing massive change in moving to hosted, on-demand IT. Channel organisations will need to evolve their business plans to cover new usage and costing models required by their customers.

We’re only at the tipping point of this evolution, but those who aren’t already thinking about how they can better align to their customer’s business within a cloud-based world are running the risk of becoming obsolete in the near future.

Nadia Cameron Editor, ARN Nadia_cameron@idg.com.au

This supplement is sponsored by Microsoft.

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