The VAR Guy

October 14, 2011

3 Min Read
Symantec Partner Engage: Cloud Services, New Partner Roles

If Partner Engage 2011 had any sort of underlying theme, it was change. The VAR Guy discerned that bit of information quickly, especially after Symantec invited Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova to discuss the future of security services. Are you ready to start offering Cloud Services Brokerage?

Bova cracked the keynote whip quickly, starting by saying there’s a problem in the channel. “Slow migration is hindering growth for cloud adoption in the marketplace,” she said. The changing roles around IaaS and converging technology means partners also must converge, adapt and evolve the kinds of technology they offer. Bova said it’s “beyond reselling” — it’s about competency, specialization and creating internal offerings that customers really want. And it has to happen now, she said, because the customer knows best and the customer wants it now. It’s also about understanding the customer, because not all customers are “digital natives” (born and bred with technology). Most are “digital immigrants” who found technology slowly integrated into their lives. Understanding that mentality is key to moving to the cloud, she said.

That understanding also reflected a need for partners to make a mental shift (or “rethink” their business plans) to meet new customer needs. “It takes times to shift business models,” Bova said, allaying any trepidation, “… but they will work.” It just requires planning.

Bova displayed an interesting chart showing the “hype cycle” of technology. It placed all current IT technologies on a graph, which shows the relationship between the birth of a technology and how it’s perceived. It goes from hype (best thing ever), disappointment (doesn’t do everything promised), to reaching full potential (maturity) over the course of a few years. Bova suggested the most risk-willing partners tackle the objects on the left side of the graph (most hyped, but untested) while partners who are more risk-averse tend to take on objects on the right side of the chart (those leveling out in the usability department). For example, OAuth and Cloud Encryption Gateways are on their way up the hype cycle, while Email Encryption and OpenID are headed toward more mature pastures.

What’s the point of understanding where products fit into the hype cycle? For starters, partners can better predict their customers’ needs, and work with CIOs’ initiatives to steer them in the right direction. To help partners down that path Bova suggested they drop sales teams who focus on facts and figures, and replace them with sales reps who could have a “business conversation.”

But Bova also cautioned partners against going out of their way to do everything. “Work with other businesses. You’re collectively stronger by not stepping on each other’s toes.” And like Salem before her, Bova offered some serious advice:

“Back yourself into … the partner you want to be in 2015. Fire your sales reps and then fire your customers,” she said, stressing the need for change. The world of cloud brokerage is coming soon, and partners and customers both will have to adapt to survive in the coming IT ecosystem.

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