Embracing 2011: New Opportunities

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It seems like just yesterday I was preparing my keynote address for Everything Channel's March 2010 XChange Americas event in Los Angeles. The focus was around cloud computing -- the hot topic at
the time -- and how solution providers could prepare for the economic rebound by becoming cloud experts and redefining their role as trusted adviser to customers. Nearly a year has passed and cloud computing is still the hot topic of the day -- and once again the focus of this monthly column.

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.

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 rauline.ochs@ec.ubm.com.

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