Embracing 2011: New Opportunities

Throughout 2010, we outlined opportunities for solution providers to profit through public and private cloud sales, customer on-premise resale and hosting sales. Our 2011 research will continue down this path, focusing specifically on cloud profit trends. So please stay tuned to this column throughout the year for more information. This month, however, we'll discuss 2011 business plans, specifically for solution providers planning a transition to include a greater mix of services in the coming year.

In previous years, vendors were updating their traditional partner strategies, go-to-market plans and programs to focus on solution providers that could transition from product reselling to reselling with a value-added implementation or service integration. Today, however, the focus is not only on the mix of services provided but also the type. In fact, it's becoming more common to see requests for both project-based integration as well as recurring revenue-based services.

These are no longer the offerings of a few early adopter solution providers, but of solution providers transitioning their businesses to reflect customer needs and new buying behaviors. The solution provider that can meet ever-changing customer computing needs will be the solution provider of the future. New customer needs support hybrid computing environments that mix customer on-premise data centers, hosting and data center virtualization. And for midmarket customers and above, many will have aspirations to move toward a private cloud -- one that you will help build.

Let's face it; the services game has changed, specifically for traditional local, regional or national value-added solution providers. The bar has been raised. It used to be enough for solution providers to offer product and services. Today's solution provider must offer a full range of services just to meet customer needs and stay competitive.

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How many of you found your firm offering a hosted solution simply because the decision criteria called for a hosted solution? How long before a similar situation requires you to offer a cloud-based service in addition to a hosted option? Are you prepared to meet those needs?

As you schedule your customer planning sessions for 2011, take some time to understand which vendors would be best served by focusing their resources on high-yield or competitive advantage initiatives while moving standard data center operations to you, with or without supplemental capabilities provided in a cloud offering. And as you factor those needs into your business plan, make sure your service delivery capabilities are aligned with your customers' needs. Work with your vendors to build the skills required.

It's 2011, and the majority of today's solution providers are preparing for a prosperous future by embracing new and emerging delivery models. An alarming amount of solution providers (30 percent), however, are ignoring this changing industry. Even if your midmarket and above customers have yet to require services offerings across multiple delivery options, I would urge you to set the tone for your customers and drive them toward today’s best practices and offerings.

Happy planning and best to you this year!

BACKTALK: Contact IPED General Manager Rauline Ochs via e-mail at [email protected].