Returning from your holidays? What have you missed? The good news is the continued growth of consumer cloud (IDC states that the Western EU public cloud service market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent). This will warm the hearts of the channel, as history shows that where consumer trends lead, business opportunity follows.
Consumer cloud now enjoys a joined-up supply-chain so that, although the solution may involve multiple vendors and complex alliances, the delivery to consumers is now relatively straightforward. The channel needs to follow suit with the delivery of business solutions with multiple moving parts across the likes of the business cloud and the IoT landscape.
But to do so, the channel needs to form strategic partnerships that enable resellers to take multiple solutions to market. As the old adage goes, ‘no man is an island.’ Increasingly, that goes for IT companies as well since the customer wants “one throat to choke” despite the fact that the diversity of solutions and services is too great to be effectively delivered by a single company. Even the delivery of “single solutions” like the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite requires diverse skills. Increasingly, more formal collaboration and business partnerships are required in and amongst the channel.
Hence the new and popular phrase Partner-to-Partner (P2P), which is all about the collaboration within a channel community and which, by definition, doesn’t require the involvement of the vendor. However, since these partners have traditionally been competitive, how do they now meet in the middle, collaborate and complement one another?
To begin with, finding the right-fit partner is hard, not only in terms of the right solutions and service offering, but the right cultural fit too. As anyone who has tried will know, it is a painstaking task to do the desk research to build a long-list of potential partners. And that is just the start of the journey since building long-term profitable partnerships requires a lot more than desk research.
This topic was center stage at this season’s vendor conferences, but there was little or no substance and few programs to support the rhetoric and enable this essential teaming. When vendors are conducting their annual partner program refresh, they need to consider developing programs that actively assist in the matching and securing of these necessary business partnerships. This includes the resources to protect and secure these relationships, such as contracts, terms of engagement and collaborative sales processes. The vendors have been talking about P2P, but what genuine steps have they actually put in place?
To start the ball rolling, we suggest that vendors should lead by example, take the initiative and demonstrate the benefits of their own Vendor-to-Vendor (V2V) relationships. For instance, Cisco and Microsoft could potentially team up to provide a joint matching program and set of resources. There are many aspects to a business partnership, and vendors like Microsoft and Cisco have a wealth of experience in these initiatives. Elements such as contracts, commercials, sales processes and sharing these alliance experiences in a structured program to promote P2P collaboration in the channel would be valuable. This is an issue that’s causing midsize companies to scratch their heads, and it isn’t going away any time soon.
In this increasingly complex IT landscape, we are all striving to keep it simple. So should any good Vendor Partner Program. Making sure you are easy to do business with is one of the key challenges, but so is staying current and leading through example. We should see training and enablement programs that help VARS (CSPs and MSPs) deliver on these technologies in collaboration with vendors and each other. The channel needs practical P2P guidance and training.