CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux said cybersecurity and cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings represent the most immediate money making opportunity for channel partners.
The Downers Grove, Ill.-based IT trade organization said a gigantic number of companies have come out of the woodwork with cloud-based applications, addressing everything from human resources and payment processing services to customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Thibodeaux said channel partners could, for instance, unlock additional credit or payment processing opportunities by helping their customers move from Peachtree or Quicken-based financial management products to cloud-based application services. But not many solution providers have taken advantage of this possibility, Thibodeaux told CRN leading up to CompTIA ChannelCon 2017 in Austin, Texas.
"When you talk to the average partner, they haven't embraced very many of those," Thibodeaux said. "They're still working on the transition from desktop or notebook-based Office installations to Office 365, making transitions of existing infrastructure, disaster recovery backup, and remote monitoring."
To succeed in selling cloud SaaS products, Thibodeaux said solution providers must adjust to a different sales motion that offers fewer opportunities to engage the customer following the initial implementation. That's because solution providers delivering cloud-based applications are no longer responsible for ongoing maintenance, patches or updates, according to Thibodeaux.
"On the cloud platform, they're not on your system anymore," Thibodeaux said.
Solution providers, therefore, need to find different reasons for maintaining consistent engagement with their clients. Thibodeaux said this might come in the form of adding capacity or, if the platform has a good application program interface (API), doing project work to extend or build out the platform.
Channel partners additionally need to gather more information about how their clients' businesses operate, Thibodeaux said, ranging from the flow of payments and how they keep track of employers to how they manage healthcare administration and their relationships with banks and creditors.
"You need to have a deeper knowledge of how your customer's businesses operate beyond just, 'how are they using technology in their business?'" Thibodeaux said.
Solution providers can gain this knowledge through both internal and external means, according to Thibodeaux. Internally, Thibodeaux said channel partners should speak with their outsourced human resources and finance providers to get a better understanding of how they manage their business and deal with customer flow.