Google Executive: Change 'Not Optional' For Channel To Keep Up With Customer Digital Transformation

Solution providers need to invest in next-generation technologies to stay ahead of the curve as more customers target digital transformation for their businesses, said a Google channel executive.

Nan Boden, head of global technology partners at Google's Cloud division, said solution providers need to step up their game and look to new skill sets and services as new consumption models and buyers pave the way to a lucrative cloud economy.

"In the future, industry models will be based less on products and more on services," she said, speaking Tuesday at the NextGen Cloud event, a conference hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company. "This is putting pressure on partners to provide services to customers. It requires a different motion and skill set that is not optional, and we're seeing successful channel partners get ahead of that."

[Related: Solution Provider Panel: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Doesn't Mean Throwing Out Existing IT Investments]

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Customers are demanding faster time-to-value, minimal up-front commitment, and increased flexibility and scalability for their businesses, requiring solution providers to move away from a sales- and marketing-driven reseller model to a more value-added services model. This includes offering managed services and even packaged IP technology solutions to solve customer needs, she said.

More line-of-business customers are increasingly involved in services purchase decisions, according to a Forrester Research report, and this will change how solution providers interact with their customers.

"We see channel partners as being the entity that … solves line-of-business problems," said Boden. "Partners can look at how to talk to customers, and ask them what their business problem is, and what they are trying to do."

"It's interesting. … we're beginning to see that these capabilities can solve the world's problems," said Ben Jacobs, senior business manager at Abacus Data Systems, a San Diego-based solution provider. "My clients care about products that function, but everything is service-oriented now, and we're beginning to realize that recurring revenue in the future."

Despite the need for change, solution providers are in a "critical position" to ride this transition to help their customers in digital transformation, said Boden.

"We're seeing partners using machine learning, the cloud and analytics together in ways that are transforming industries," said Boden. "We believe that if you invest in innovations for your line-of-business customers, that will pay off."