“If you can’t beat them, join them.”
When it comes to accelerating your business to the cloud, is that the mentality you have taken toward finding the right service provider?
The large-scale cloud providers—I won’t name names here, but you know who I’m talking about—dominate the headlines and also the market share. They also may make it seem impossible for your business to get value for the cloud from anywhere else.
There’s a major flaw in their business models, however: The major cloud providers are one size fits all. Oftentimes, if a service is ‘one size fits all, it also has difficulty being the perfect solution for any business.
If can find a flaw in their business, you should also be able to find an opportunity to take advantage of that flaw to benefit your business.
In your years of providing customer services, how often have you found two businesses to be exactly the same in operation? Probably never. Instead, growing businesses vary in size and structure. They have unique technology challenges and specific applications they need to operate at their best. Most importantly, they also need a knowledgeable solution provider to help them embrace cloud solutions and deploy their solutions correctly.
Below are five ways you can position your business to successfully fill the void left open by the major cloud providers.
Fill the Gap for Medium-Sized Businesses
Your small-business customers likely have limited budgets and rarely invest in technology to scale their business. If you work with enterprises customers, they may have greater resources. They also likely have existing relationships with vendors and limited ability to change their strategies. So what marketplace presents the best growth opportunity for the cloud? Medium-sized businesses.
Medium-sized businesses often have a limited IT staff that is more than likely overworked. They also display a dependency on business applications to run their day-to-day operations. If they are a growing company, they also need the ability to scale their technology in a predictable manner.
Stop chasing after new business opportunities that requires a long sales cycle with existing staff that has limited interest in change. Position your cloud offering as the perfect solution for growing medium-sized businesses, and you should also find the path from RFP to ROI to be much simpler.
ID Applications That Drive Business Operations. Present Them to Markets That Have a Need
Your future customers are looking for innovative solutions and disruptive ideas to help give them an edge in their marketplace. Be the cloud provider to give these to them! Focus your prospecting efforts and communications on presenting your cloud offering to industries where applications are essential to running an operation. Simply being a “me-too” technology provider just adds to the noise and confusion in our industry, and will likely lead to more businesses simply embracing the providers with the largest market share.
If you implement enterprise technology solutions in markets that do not otherwise have it, and you perfect your messaging to reach the right prospective customers in those markets, you can become a go-to solution provider and overcome the noise and confusion.
Focus On Adding Applications, Let Your Infrastructure Follow
There are many other companies that have built (like Netrepid) or are starting to build their own infrastructure. With so many existing infrastructure providers, your business doesn’t need to have a complex infrastructure to be successful with cloud services. Instead, your businesses should be looking to deploy cloud services into their solutions with a focus on finding scalable, in-demand applications that you can quickly integrate with a clear go-to market strategy.
At the end of the day, follow the old adage: Work smarter, not harder. Save on the investment required to build a large physical footprint to host your own cloud. Instead, focus on meeting customer demand and improving user experience by adding the applications they need. Creating an infrastructure to support your services can be a long-term goal.
Integrate Services To Improve UX And Better Position Expertise
Just because you don’t have the industry-leading, name-brand services behind you doesn’t mean you have to use multiple vendors to build a comprehensive cloud offering. Deliver an enterprise-caliber suite of cloud solutions by providing integrated services. If Hosted Exchange and SharePoint are on your cloud services menu, deploying Lync as a cloud solution for unified communications is a natural addition. Because of the seamless integration with your other hosted services for communication and collaboration—even if it isn’t a market leader—Lync will improve the user experience for your customers using your Microsoft (MSFT) family of services, cut down on your time to market and make upsells a lot more logical.
In addition to improving user experience and making the sales process more efficient, your position as an expert on the services will be solidified, further shortening the sales process.
If you’re a jack of all trades, you’re a master of none. When it comes to your cloud services, it’s better to be a master of one trade with competency in all of the opportunities it can present your customers.
Build Your Revenue with Quality Services and Support
Once you have the right customers, the right applications to meet their initial needs and the right add-on services to meet their challenges as they grow, your future revenue is dependent on the quality of services and ongoing support. To capitalize on those opportunities, create an actionable plan for upgrading your services. Then, build your support model on ongoing managed services and remote management to create a predictable flow of recurring revenue each month.
There is a fine line between competing with the largest names in the cloud, and taking advantage of the opportunities they leave open for your business. If you create a sales strategy to target the best prospective customers, build your applications and expertise to meet the unique needs of your clients and leverage your expertise to consistently improve and support the applications that meet their needs, short-term and long-term success becomes almost inevitable.
Sam Coyl is president/CEO of Netrepid, a provider of colocation, infrastructure and application hosting services that help growing companies accelerate their technology from the ground to the cloud.