Page 4 of 4
8. Get Free Training
A great many companies offer free training on their products. Of those, it’s likely that many also provide additional training and support for presales and postsales activities. Such programs are a golden opportunity to enrich your organization’s sales and support teams for little or no net cost to you.
For example, VMware (www.vmware.com/education) offers extensive training delivered in a variety of ways, including classroom, live online, self-paced and on-site. Many of its programs are free to anyone who registers; others are free to VMware resellers.
The Web also contains plenty of free sales training sites. One good example is EyesOnSales.com, which publishes numerous quick-read articles targeted at specific sales issues. For example, after visiting the site just once, I’ve learned how to further qualify a sales lead when they’ve told me to “Just e-mail your information.”
9. Seize The Cloud
Every company wants to know how they can use the cloud to improve their business. With the virtualization of literally everything, opportunities exist in just about every area of the data center to help companies improve server efficiency and performance during season peaks, reduce or offload energy usage requirements for computing resources, improve data backup and disaster recovery plans, and on and on.
To seize on this, pick an area of technology that you or your organization already understand and become an expert. For example, off-site backup and disaster recovery is something that every company needs and many companies ignore. Dozens of reseller-friendly solutions exist, including those from Barracuda Networks, Iron Mountain, JungleIT and StorageCraft.
Another way to leverage the cloud is to resell services of a cloud-compute provider such as Amazon. Its Elastic Compute Cloud (aws.amazon.com) took the virtual world by storm in 2006 and has been a leading force in virtualized computing ever since. The company’s innovative pay-as-you-need pricing model and API-based access have not only set the bar for resource allocation, they have spawned hundreds of new companies and services that resell or reuse on-demand compute and backup resources.
Applications, too, must be made to work on with cloud-based platforms, and there will be a learning curve associated with relevant APIs. For Windows developers, Microsoft is trying to flatten the curve with Windows Azure, its cloud development platform. Solution providers also should be aware of OpenStack (openstack.org), an effort spearheaded by Nasa and Rackspace to develop a “ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds.”
10. Mobile Security
As you’re evaluating Amazon’s APIs, you might also verify that they’re in line with your client-side development efforts as well. Because if you’re not currently building apps for clients, you’re missing a lucrative opportunity that can cost relatively little to enter into. As we wrote in our June CRNtech cover story, “The ‘Write’ Opportunity” for resellers today is increasingly to add the title of Independent Software Vendor to their shingle.
Again, opportunities exist to build new apps for Apple’s iOS (Objective C; Mac-hosted tools), Google’s open-source Android (C, C++, Java, Linux-, Mac- or Windows-hosted tools) as well as Microsoft’s Azure platform that’s akin to Visual Basic and .Net (Windows-hosted tools). There are additional platforms, of course, but for any development effort, be prepared to dedicate at least one full-time programmer whose job does not also include Web site maintenance.
If the plan is to build apps for health-care workers, be sure you don’t run afoul of HIPAA -- and the more recent HITECH Act -- regulations. You might not even be aware of HITECH, which was part of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan. Start with a visit to its official Web site (www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy) and consider subscribing to the regulations mailing list. Another great resource is the HIPAA Survival Guide (www.hipaasurvivalguide.com/), which includes the HITECH Act. Exercise similar cautions for the regulations of PCI Security Standards Council for credit-card transactions and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Compliance also can be enhanced by simply selecting one platform or protocol over another. For example, forward-thinking developers can equip apps with the IPv6 protocol, which ensures iron-clad security as well as an incredible performance boost thanks to its point-to-point communications nature. And though its future is unclear, HP’s TouchPad and its webOS has VPN capabilities built right in. How you choose a platform can help differentiate your company from competitors, and give your products and services an edge.
11. Increase Your Recurring Revenue
The Holy Grail of any business is the recurring revenue stream. It’s predictable and stable, and continues to flow just by keeping the doors open. Such income usually includes fees for services that you provide, such as backups, on-site and remote technical support, routine maintenance such as that for printers, copiers, telephone system programming, employee installations and moves and so on.
For example, let’s say 20 of your existing customers agree to pay $25 per month for you to back up their data to your cloud system each day and visit them once per month to pick up their backup media for off-site storage. That’s $500 of monthly revenue for a service that costs you perhaps a few dollars per month for electricity and gas.
It’s easy to see how several of the categories in this article can be combined to help transform your company and improve its bottom line. As another example, recurring revenue can be generated with the combination of a good backup application that you purchase or develop, linking it with a cloud-based storage repository for backup and recovery, and tying it all together with a disaster recovery plan and a monthly fee that’s tailored to each client’s needs.
Putting It All Together: Analyze, Plan, Do
The first step in transforming your business is to get together with your staff to analyze their strengths and interests and the greatest needs of your customer base. Then focus on two or three of the easiest and most applicable suggestions we’ve made here, develop a strategy for making them happen, and then make them happen.
One more thing: Be sure to set SMART goals, meaning that all your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. With this simple rule, a successful transformation is all but assured.