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Memo to VARs: Find and Embrace Line of Business Owners

Memo to VARs: Find and Embrace Line of Business Owners

We're four weeks into the New Year. Chances are you've already broken a few of your New Year's resolutions. But here's one you can't afford to break: As a solutions provider, you've got to find and engage line of business owners within your customer accounts. Indeed, success for the rest of 2011 will have everything to do with the right relationships with the right people. We all understand the value of relationship selling. However, what is also important is to understand the changing nature of who we should be building those relationships with.

Last month, Novell hosted a cloud-computing focus group in Las Vegas. There was a clear recurring theme during this meeting: IT departments are losing budget and control within their companies to the business units. Several key insights surfaced from these discussions:

  • Business units are increasingly making their own application choices and outsourcing services by themselves.
  • Business units are gaining budget authority that used to belong to IT.
  • IT must still support the applications and services that business units choose.
IT department heads are getting the message loud and clear. Aligning IT infrastructure with the needs and actions of business units requires one of two things: a fresh way of looking at roles and working relationships, or a new CIO.

Trend Watch: Budget Ownership Is Shifting

These days, business units are under pressure to deliver immediate results—and they want greater authority and control over the technologies they use to reach their numbers. This explains the significant budget shift that’s taking place, as funds traditionally managed by IT are moving to business units. In its April 2010 survey of 400 business technology professionals, InformationWeek Analytics researchers concluded that “14 percent [of respondents] would like to move computing expenses off IT’s budget and onto line-of-business balance sheets.” According to some estimates, business units will control the majority of technology funds by 2012.

Targeting LOB Owners

Channel partners in 2011 must seek out meaningful relationships with business owners and traditional IT contacts. As a channel partner, it’s in the best interest of you and your customers to help IT and business owners work together earlier in the process.

What do line-of-business owners know about IT infrastructure? That’s my point. They need to know more—and in many cases, want to understand the business benefits of intelligent infrastructure and why it’s important to their applications and services. In other words, the more business owners know, the more successful you will be in selling to them. With that in mind, here are some recommendations for 2011:
  • Find the business owners and start having conversations with them.
  • Educate business owners on the relationship between business service delivery and intelligent infrastructure.
  • Where possible, work with IT to include business owners in meetings and presentations.
In 2011, successful channel partners must become valued consultants to business owners. True trusted advisors will be the consultant, the educator and -- at times -- the mediator.

Dan Dufault is global director of partner marketing at Novell. Guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship program. Read all of Dufault’s guest blogs here.


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