Do your customers know what the cloud is? Chances are they have some vague ideas about cloud computing, but if you pressed them on how the cloud fits into their IT needs, most would stumble.
It isn’t because your customers haven’t heard about the cloud. If anything, they probably have heard more than enough to be confused about it. They are seeing Web, TV and print ads from the big brands about the cloud, but the message of how cloud services can maximize their use of IT isn’t necessarily getting through.
Got Expertise?That is why you, the IT services provider, have to step into the educator role. Only by walking your customers through the benefits of the cloud and how it fits into their business, as well as the potential pitfalls of choosing one service versus another, can you help them make the right decisions to support their business goals.
The educator role is fundamental to the customer relationship. It’s part of solution providers’ consultative responsibilities and helps cement their role as trusted advisors.
In a CompTIA survey last fall, 54 percent of small business respondents cited lack of understanding of how to manage and use cloud solutions as their primary reason for avoiding the cloud.
This means that a large number of end users need more information about the cloud before they can fully embrace it. While they may believe the cloud brings benefits, many still wonder exactly how cloud services fit into their businesses. Many have no clue about how the services are managed.
Confusion Equals OpportunitySuch questions of course are tailor-made for solution providers. Here is an opportunity for providers to explain how cloud services are delivered and how the service provider fits into the equation. The message should revolve around persuading customers to hand over management of cloud services to the provider, freeing end users from day-to-day IT duties that distract them from their primary business focus.
End users will welcome the peace of mind that comes with letting solution providers manage their cloud environment, performing the required upgrades, maintenance and – when necessary – troubleshooting.
Other common end-user concerns regarding the cloud revolve around security and control over data. Such fears can be put to rest as solution providers bring their clients up to speed on cloud computing and the variety of approaches to consuming IT through the cloud. Data control and security issues, for instance, can be addressed with a private cloud solution that keeps a business’ data inside network walls while replicating the public cloud on a small, local scale.
Our StrategyZenith Infotech’s cloud strategy is to ease customers into cloud services, one by one, by using business continuity to get there. First provide a platform that replicates the data onsite and then use that platform to run the production environment in a local private cloud, using the same hardware assets. We are finding this transitional approach is resonating with partners and customers alike.
It resonates in large part because our partners are taking their educator role seriously, through face-to-face meetings, solution demos and marketing efforts to introduce customers to cloud concepts. According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) primary research, 48% of surveyed businesses that have adopted Cloud resources reported data storage or business continuity as the primary reason for their deployment. Solution providers can use this information to gain greater acceptance of their cloud services.
Maurice Saluan is senior VP of sales for Zenith Infotech as well as seasoned sales veteran in the managed service arena. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor's Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Saluan’s blog entries here.