VAR 2.0 – The Reboot
The failure to evolve has the potential to affect every business. Just look at retailing, it’s sad to think of the high street names that have disappeared because of changes in consumer buying habits and an inability to respond to them at all, or at least in a timely fashion. Businesses that have been around for decades have sleepwalked into oblivion.
To think that those of us operating in the channel are immune to these same challenges is a serious misjudgement. Disruptive pressures from emerging trends like Cloud, Software-Defined Data Centre and the Internet of Things are fostering a different conversation around IT that is beyond technology and more concerned with time to value and flexibility. Likewise, the millennial-generation are rapidly appearing in decision-maker roles. Born in the Cloud, they come at IT with loftier expectations and a desire to challenge convention.
Failure to respond at least by thinking about these dilemmas will inevitably mean someone more nimble will enter your market, better satisfy customer appetite and simply out-innovate you.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Inevitably it spells transformation, because it’s not a case of ‘if’, but ‘when’ you’re going to need to change your business. Transformation is a scary word and loaded with risk, but it’s a necessity. So, how do you find the right “new idea” to be relevant now and in the future – let alone get it off the ground and begin to enact the actual process of transformation in your business? And, perhaps most importantly how do you remove or at least mitigate the risk of what you’re about to embark on?
Transformation: Version next…
The good news is that it’s not all bad news and there are things you can do to better prepare yourself for transformation! The key is to ensure your business has options. In some cases that might mean doing things radically different. If you have always delivered solutions on-premise, then perhaps it’s time to look to the Cloud and how you can offer your customers a like-for-like alternative.
Similarly, maybe you’ve built your own IP around a particular technology, or even industry, and now need to figure out how you carry that into a cloud-first world or a different market or line-of-business unit. This could involve building a new commercial model that both supports and justifies going to market in this way.
If your customer is talking to you about things outside of your comfort zone, think about how you can credibly respond without dismissing things as out of your scope. That doesn’t have to mean spending months developing capability or investing in expertise you don’t currently have. Instead, partner with a like-minded organisation who has already developed these skills and has experience you don’t possess. Think pragmatically and get over the feelings of letting a ‘competitor’ into your account – they’re not a competitor if chosen properly, as you’ll have value to complement whatever they bring to the table. It might not be as profitable as owning the whole solution stack yourself, but you’ll get to where you need to be considerably faster.
Finally, you need to be prepared to sell with and against cloud solutions. Just because Cloud is capturing peoples’ imagination it doesn’t mean it’s right on every occasion. Cloud offers lots of functionality, but if your customer won’t use it all, it’s a bit like paying for a tool in their toolbox that they’re never going to use. Therefore, knowing how to properly respond in this situation and do so confidently is critical.
Where to start?
This is just a small insight into some of the ways you might seek to introduce innovation in your business and begin transforming what you do. Of course, this all sounds simple but in reality the process of transformation might feel a much more daunting task.
What’s needed is a strategy that supports transformation, informed by those with experience of the road you’ll be travelling. And guess what? Distributors – at least those with vision to back it up – could be ideally placed to leverage the resources at their disposal, orchestrate the right partnerships and open up the networks they have built to do just this.
Distributors have the relationships with vendors, the wider channel, specialist contractors, finance and legal – essentially everything necessary to help support you in the transformation of your business – whether that’s setting up a new business unit or re-engineering your business completely. Additionally, they have the solutions, products and services to augment what you do today and fuel the innovation your customers are seeking. If they’re visionary, then they’ll have been doing this now for some time with other organisations like yours and have deep knowledge of the pitfalls and benefits of different courses of action – all invaluable input to your own transformation journey.
What are your thoughts on how our business is transforming?
Richard Holmes is IBM Solutions Leader at Arrow ECS and spends much of his time supporting partners with business transformation.
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