1. Key channel plays for 2015
A lot of channel players have been slow to adopt a recurring revenue model, instead clinging to selling hardware coupled with services. However progressively they’re finding that clients are looking to avoid CAPEX and on-premise infrastructure in favour of paying a monthly fee for a cloud solution. Most would struggle with building a viable Cloud solutions platform, particularly at this late stage, but by partnering well channel players can leverage a mature solutions suite to rapidly shift from reselling hardware to reselling Cloud solutions. And they are still able to offer maintenance and over-the-top services much as they previously have, thereby protecting a significant proportion of their overall margin. Moving from lumpy once-off revenue to recurring revenue can still be challenging, but it is definitely time for channel players to cannibalise their own client base before somebody else does it for them.
2. Key technology for 2015
There is always some major technology trend in the ICT industry that generates a lot of hype at any given point of time. However these days clients are increasingly more interested in acquiring a tightly integrated solution with greater accountability and less finger pointing. Channel players that can tailor and deliver a complete solution comprising network, hosting, backup, DR and unified communications with a single point of support will generally be far much more effective than those that are offering point products coupled with integration services. They will win more often, have a greater share of wallet and be far less susceptible to churn than their competitors.
3. Key message to the channel for 2015
Find a partner that can underpin your transition to a recurring revenue model. Look for someone that can offer a broad suite of service elements that can be tailored to suit a given client requirement and don’t underestimate the importance of the network. If the network is not reliable and/or not equipped to cater for the applications running over it the result will be a very frustrated client than will churn away at the first opportunity. And churning is now much easier than it has been in the past. Individual service elements should be best-of-breed to ensure they don’t devalue the overall solution when compared with other products and services. And it’s important that the partner is willing and able to provide sales and presales support. The transition to selling hosted solutions is not always easy. It’s a cultural shift and sales people often need support to effectively sell the value proposition.
4. Key warning to the channel for 2015
If you don’t already have a viable cloud solutions platform of your own, partner with someone who does and move quickly to cannibalise your own client base before someone does it for you. The market is now maturing rapidly, clients will often make a quick decision in favour of a solution with little or no upfront costs if it meets their requirements, and the CFO will frequently be the key decision maker as clients transition towards an OPEX-centric service model. Channel players that don’t adopt a cloud solutions model will progressively lose their relevance as the market continues to mature.
5. Key to Cloud Plus for 2015
Continuing to build our team, scale our infrastructure and expand our solution suite to support the significant increases in demand that we are seeing from the channel. We’re hiring additional sales and presales resources to work with our partners on opportunities and ensure that they are fully effective. We’re hiring additional engineering and support staff to ensure that we are able to maintain our high service levels. We’re progressively upgrading our infrastructure to ensure it scales effectively with the size and volume of the opportunities we are closing with our partners. And we are continuing to expand our solution suite to satisfy the needs of our partners and help them maximise their share of wallet.