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January 16, 2018
By Sergio Farache, Tech Data
Knowledge is quickly becoming the most valued service for channel partners — even more so than an extensive catalog of quality products. End customers want channel partners to understand the intricacies of their specialized technology deployments while delivering the ability to save time and resources in solving their business problems.
This is why IT channel partners and ISVs increasingly are creating specialized solution practices. At a time of greater margin pressures and technology commoditization, offering highly specialized skills and expertise in next-generation technologies is what can differentiate a true partner from a simple product pusher.
Here are four key reasons why technology channel partners and ISVs should create specialized solution practices to better serve their customers.
1. Keep up with the pace of innovation — While the traditional IT market may be slowing, the pace of disruptive innovation in new technologies has never been more blinding. Constant change is the norm in cloud, cognitive computing, data analytics, mobility, security, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other emerging technologies. Business conditions and IT consumption can turn on a dime.
While a channel partner may have expertise in one particular area, innovation is dynamic and constantly evolving. Increasingly, solutions involve multiple technologies. Developing a specialized solutions practice gives channel partners the financial and personnel resources to invest in staying on the cusp of innovation. They also excel at developing the unique proprietary tools, services and sales support customers can lean on for success.
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2. Deliver better business outcomes — Customers that require next-generation technologies need a partner that understands their business needs as well as the technological requirements. Specialized solutions practices combine a business solutions mindset with deep technical expertise.
Specialization gives such partners a better understanding of the drivers of their customers’ business. Some customers are driven by reducing costs or improving operational efficiencies, for example. Others may be more concerned with attracting and retaining customers. And for some, establishing a clear differentiated offering from their competitors is the main driver. Specialized solution practices are uniquely developed to understand these business drivers and develop solutions that support the end users’ needs and the technologies and services that support them.
3. Reduce risk — The economic value proposition that specialized solutions practices offer is the ability to accelerate return on investment while minimizing risks in deploying new solutions. By creating specialized solutions practices, knowledgeable and experienced staff can understand the potential challenges faced through an installation and increase the rate of success. Through a close partnership with distributors, channel partners can remediate additional risk by …
… using the resources they offer to educate staff and deliver services that help ensure successful deployments. These offerings allow channel partners to accelerate development and capitalize on next-generation technologies while avoiding the mistakes often accompanied by a go-it-alone approach.
4. Adopt vertical specialization — Technology specialization is much more powerful when combined with vertical market expertise. Innovations such as smartphones and social networking are reshaping the retail industry. The need for better health-care analytics is driving new opportunities in hospitals, clinics and managed-care facilities. And, financial services institutions are looking to channel partners to provide solutions that address regulatory compliance and other industry needs, to name a few examples.
Channel partners that combine vertical expertise with a specialized solution practice understand specific industry business needs and regulations. Through partnerships with their strategic distributors, channel partners can take advantage of additional knowledge resources by enrolling in their training programs that cover market trends and business priorities. This combination of vertical and technical specialization can provide channel partners with a higher closure rate during the demand-creation phase as well.
Specialized knowledge is what differentiates channel partners from their competitors. The significant energy, resources and investments toward the technologies that will define the future give channel partners the best way to meet their customers’ needs in a rapidly changing market. The best of the best understand business outcomes as well as the software, services and hardware needed to adapt to the changes while reducing their risks.
Sergio Farache is senior vice president, Global Cloud Solutions, Tech Data.
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