Microsoft APC: Cloud pro-activity requires customer, business and objective evaluation

Partners should employ a niche business model while having a valuable answer for customers

Cloud-oriented partners are growing 2.5 times faster in revenue, and 1.6 times faster in profit, according to Microsoft at its APC event.

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Comitting to Cloud can have a dramatic impact on a reseller's business, although the extent of the impact is dependent on the type of business and approach. Independent business consultant, Martin Gregory, sees six points to Cloud proactivity.

While it resembles 'Sales 101', the first step is understanding the customer and being prepared to have an answer.

Microsoft partners need to understand that 45 per cent of IT budgets in the next three years are going to be oriented to the Cloud, with 15 per cent dedicated purely to public Cloud. Resellers must be able to have this discussion and have an answer for potential customers.

Gregory said this can be achieved within a business' own means, or via partnering with another Microsoft reseller.

For partners 'new' to Cloud, it may be too big to do everything at once. Gregory said the first step matters most, alongside the direction in which partners decide to head.

He told ARN partners must "Stop trying to be interesting to everybody, and work out who they need to be essential to. For a partner, if they cross out 90 per cent of opportunities, what are the 10 per cent where they can attach the most managed services that give them long-term recurring revenue."

He added that a campaign cannot be created in hope of attracting every form of customer. Customers are researching and looking for the right pair of hands to take them through resolving a business issue; therefore resellers must evaluate current results and goals, then modify the business model to make the necessary moves rather than approaching the entire market.

Another component of proactivity is making intentional decisions instead of allowing Cloud to "just happen." Investment should occur while a partner's business is on the rise, and not once numbers begin falling.

Partners must also decide what they want from the Cloud. This is a two fold consideration; is Cloud a way of acquiring new customers, or a means of pursuing a bigger share of existing investments? Gregory claims each has a different financial outcome.

As certain partners are ahead of the Cloud adoption curve, Gregory recommends that partners take the chance to observe how other businesses are progressing, and what key Microsoft partners have done to win customers through Cloud services.

Looking at the laggards

According to Microsoft Australia Cloud ambassador, Christian Longstaff, the Cloud market has reached the tipping point where those partners which have been delayed in becoming oriented are realising that benefits outweigh concerns.

Longstaff attributes this to a standard adoption curve where some grasp the opportunity early, and others follow once they see the competition winning business.

But the transformation takes time and furthermore, some customers were not ready due to issues around vendor trust and unavailability of solutions; but these issues are diminishing as Cloud becomes the norm.

The other key factor is that Cloud interest is being generated among customers as they are being forced do more with less in terms of budgets, and see Cloud as a way out of hardware and infrastructure investments.

Nermin attended Microsoft APC as a guest of Microsoft.

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