August 6, 2019
By Mike Shonholz
By Mike Shonholz, Chief Revenue Officer, ARG Inc.
With new applications and solutions hitting the market at an accelerated rate, businesses face more technology choices than ever before.
This is creating massive opportunities and challenges for customers and solution providers. As such, providers need to position themselves to guide customers through thousands of technology options, and help them make the right decisions to solve business problems and support strategic goals.
The fact is no business can keep up with the constant stream of technologies entering the market today without help. Even providers need resources and focus to develop depth of expertise to support customers in such a dynamic, crowded technology marketplace.
Make the Move to ‘As a Service’
Service-based models are responsible of the abundance of technologies available today. For example, solutions that would have been cost-prohibitive for all but enterprise businesses in the past now are easily accessible on a subscription basis. From collaboration tools to advanced business applications, just about any type of technology is now available as a service.
And while it may have seemed service-based models would squeeze out solution providers, the reality is customers can’t handle all these choices on their own. They don’t have the expertise to map technology solutions to business needs, something that’s going to become even more prevalent as Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence applications come online.
The evolution of unified communications and now workstream collaboration creates yet another opportunity. The convergence of text, voice, email, online chat, video and document management applications can deliver a multichannel experience, but these technologies aren’t without challenges. Solution providers can help their customers navigate the things they need to consider, such as governance and compliance as they migrate to an omnichannel world.
Meanwhile, the explosion of cyberthreats has also been a significant development. Cybersecurity is the biggest concern for most companies. As a solution provider, if you can’t help protect your customers, it will get harder and harder to win business.
Develop More Depth
These developments have also changed how providers deliver services. You need depth of engineering, consulting and overall expertise to help customers make good business decisions. IT remains the entry point for most customer deals, but you can’t stop there – you will do yourself a disservice if you focus only on IT needs and fail to connect the dots to business value realization.
As a solution provider, you can show customers how spending a little more now will translate to greater value in the future. One example is how the integrations, features and functionality available today can directly impact their efficiency, customer experience and revenue targets. With many of the newer technologies not widely deployed, this is an opportunity to help our clients differentiate themselves in their markets and find considerable competitive advantage.
Also, you need to protect your customers. Everybody talks about moving to the cloud, but that shouldn’t happen until …
… the business is protected. You have to make sure the customer has a data backup solution that works as expected, that proper security controls are in place and that the network has the redundancy and resilience to support business applications requiring 100% uptime.
Decide to Grow, Team or Go
The tech landscape is changing rapidly, making it more challenging to stay current on innovations and guide customers to the right solutions at the right time. As a result, we see many channel partners coming to a crossroads when it comes to growth: Is it time to build, buy or bail out with an exit strategy?
It’s not always a black-and-white decision. My advice? Know your numbers and explore your options. If you don’t have the means to build or buy the expertise you need, consider bringing in a partner who does have that expertise. Alternatively, if you’re looking to retire in five years or less, selling the business outright, or selling it and taking an active role in the continued growth, can be a good move as well.
The beauty about this industry is that opportunity is everywhere. Take the time to ask yourself, what’s standing in the way of our success? Take inventory and then act. Whether it’s one move or many, doing what you’ve always done isn’t enough. Make the move or expand the effort around “as a service,” build your bench and expand the depth of what you provide, and identify what you need to do next.
Mike Shonholz, chief revenue officer for ARG Inc., leads consulting, partnerships and marketing. Before taking on his current role, Mike served as director of CDW’s Aggregation, Infrastructure, & Managed Services business from 2011 to 2018, and grew that business significantly. Among his many accomplishments, Mike has been pivotal in establishing partnerships with leading industry providers and managing solution architects as well as in developing relevant offerings, go-to-market strategies and programs to successfully grow revenue and solve client business challenges. Follow Mike on LinkedIn or on Twitter @my_ARG.
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