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Midmarket IT Leaders Have A Hard Time Moving Fast -- Here's How Solution Providers Can Help

Solution providers need to understand the challenges today's CIOs face and then differentiate themselves, says OC Tanner CTO Niel Nickolaisen at this week's XChange conference.

The midmarket offers a significant growth opportunity for today’s solution providers, but many still need to understand the challenges midmarket IT leaders face every day.

Today’s midmarket CIOs are facing myriad obstacles, said Niel Nickolaisen, CTO of OC Tanner Operations, at the XChange 2016 conference, which kicked off Sunday in San Antonio, Texas. XChange is hosted by The Channel Company, the parent company of CRN.

’We have to shift our thinking so that we’re in the ’experience’ business -- but many CIOs are too busy to think about this,’ he said. ’We need to close the gap between VAR delivery and customer expectations in operational excellence and innovation.’

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CIOs must deal with rapidly changing technology trends as they create strategies to deliver operational excellence while driving innovation, said Nickolaisen. They are buried in data, particularly with the emergence of the Internet of Things, and are trying to figure out how to filter this data.

’IT leaders need to explore new technology, they are having a hard time moving fast, and they need help in-sourcing and outsourcing,’ he said. ’But most of all, they need a trusted adviser.’

Despite these challenges, midmarket IT leaders are reluctant to embrace the looming tech-driven changes, said Nickolaisen.

How can solution providers help IT leaders in facing these challenges as they move forward? As an example, Nickolaisen stressed that he needs help but he has up to 40 people a day offering pitches – so solution providers need to differentiate themselves to capture his attention.

Nickolaisen stressed that solution providers need to focus on how they are differentiating themselves and how they can utilize their unique capabilities to deliver efficient services and solutions for customers.

’VARs need to tell us, who do we serve, what do they want the most, what do we do better than anyone else to meet those wants, and what’s the best way to deliver this capability,’ he said. ’Distill this into nine seconds or a couple of sentences, and we’ll listen to you.’

Finally, CIOs don’t want solution providers to probe into what their company does, as IT leaders already know what they do, said Nickolaisen. Instead, he said, CIOs want to know what the VAR does that’s compelling – so solution providers need to do research and explain how they stand out in helping clients navigate through competitive pressure from different areas.

’I’m looking for solution providers who will help me for a long time,’ he said.

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