The shift toward cloud services forces channel partners to reinvent themselves, even while they continue to find success in the old model, according to a Gartner analyst.
During her keynote speech at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, under way this week in Phoenix, Ariz., Gartner Research Vice President Tiffani Bova laid out a dire warning: "Innovation by the channel is a must," she said. "If you don't innovate, you probably won't survive, not because you did anything wrong, but because the market doesn't need you anymore."
Bova advised that continued success for solution providers largely translates to their ability to bridge legacy offerings, new technologies, new delivery models and new architectures. "New skills and approaches will be needed to survive, let alone succeed," she said. "Be oriented around professional services and also software and application development. This will often lead to hard choices around priorities, investments and the roles of people. And, this can be especially difficult when you can still make money under the old model."
Gartner has been front and center in coining the market opportunity around cloud service brokerage, which Bova described as a business model that continues to grow quickly. Keys to success include expertise around provisioning, support, management, governance, customization and integration.
Both cloud-based and on-premises solutions will live side by side for the foreseeable future, as the high end of enterprise uses the cloud for a handful of workloads and the low end of the market becomes increasingly cloud-dependent.
"At the end of the day, the world is going to be hybrid," she said. "The percentage of on-prem vs. off-prem will be based on the specifics of the business, especially market, region, segment and vertical."
Ultimate success for partners is seen to be based on the partners' ability to assemble the right solutions, backed by sales forces that understand how to support both models, with sales strategies targeting customers who are open to change.
The Gartner presentation also described a power shift in IT decision making as decisions about applications become distributed across a wider variety of roles.
"It's more than the move from Capex to Opex," said Bova. "It's a shift in emphasis from the back office to the front office because sales and marketing are what drive the business forward. About 40 percent of technology spend is driven by the front office, especially marketing. CFOs are also becoming purchasers too, especially BI, analytics and enterprise business apps."
"When you think about information, you also have to think about the analysis that goes behind that information," she concluded. "Everything comes together more tightly, making solution selling more important than ever before."
PUBLISHED APRIL 10, 2013