Approaching Transformation from the Proper Perspective
The Avnet + Cisco Executive Symposium in Phoenix is supposed to be about the opportunities around the data center. Which, of course, includes virtualization, the cloud, supporting the ever-growing ranks of mobile devices in the workplace, etc. etc. etc. But there’s a sub-level conversation happening as well, and it involves how these opportunities are transforming resellers’ way of doing business, from how they approach sales to how they run their own business.
Indeed, much of the conversation is of the enlightening kind, involving questions some folks don’t want to ask for fear of hearing the answer: Can my current business structure support selling this transformative technology? Will I need to change the way I interact with my customers? And, perhaps most importantly, Can I afford to make this change?
If you stop and think about it, the data center is really the heart of the transformation, and when you factor in the fact that consumers as a whole are a lot more IT savvy than they’ve ever been, it can be a potent mix. These days, IT conversations are happening at the C-level and they involve deep reflections on how IT can — and is expected to — improve the bottom line. Indeed, for many companies IT is now opex, not capex, and in some situations is even considered a profit center.
And that can be a scary thing for some resellers that have built their business on hardware sales and now are facing the prospect of having to shift their operations to meet the opex needs of their customers.
“It’s a fait accompli for many partners that they are going to have to change,” said Darren Adams, VP and general manager of Cisco Solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions. “The channel is coming to terms with the fact that there is a transition happening and they are a part of it. The beginning of a transition occurring is recognizing that one is happening.”
That is key: VARs that recognize — and accept — that cloud isn’t going away, virtualization is here to stay and other transformative technologies are impacting the way we access and consume data will have a much better time shifting their business to meet customers’ needs than those that don’t. In other words: Inertia kills.
Approaching the change from the perspective of business operational transformation rather than a technological transformation may be the best way for some VARs to accept the change. Recognizing their business must adapt, either whole or in part, to meet the shift in customer needs will be necessary — just like you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, VARs can’t force their customers to work in a way that aligns with the VAR’s business model. Customers will just walk away.
Yes, transformation — either technological or business — can be a daunting proposition. But only if VARs look at it that way. I prefer to view it as an opportunity for growth and change — and long-term security.