One of your SMB customers told you they just started running a business application on Amazon Web Services.
How do you compete with that?
Jon Gacek, president and CEO at Quantum, observes that along with the benefits of the cloud comes perhaps the biggest challenge to date for VARs. He advises VARs to remember two things as they embark on turning this challenge into an opportunity: know your value and stay current.
VARs have the inherent role of linking users to technology. “The VAR is always relevant because of the customer relationship,” says Gacek. To thrive in the changing market, Gacek tells VARs to rely on this strength. “Sell solutions, not a product. That’s what you already do.” But in doing what you already do, the temptation might be not to change — and business could begin to die. Gacek says Quantum, a provider of hardware for deduplication sold through the channel, has changed in response to the evolving market. “We didn’t change our salespeople. We changed our message and our marketing. Our ability to position gives us a strategic advantage.”
According to CompTIA’s 4th Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study, 60 percent of solutions providers say offering cloud services has strengthened their customer relationships. “Cloud really affords an opportunity to cement that trusted-advisor status,” comments Carolyn April, director of industry analysis at CompTIA.
Understanding the impact of the cloud on the market and adopting new technologies is also crucial. Again, VARs can leverage what they already know. “A lot of cloud technologies aren’t combined into solutions,” Gacek says. “There are plenty of ways to add value around cloud services.” He says resellers — smaller and more nimble than big box competitors — have a better chance at creating a niche market.
The CompTIA study also addresses the issue of businesses procuring their own cloud solutions — “rogue IT” — and points out it doesn’t have to mean a lost client. The cloud service your customer just subscribed to might not scale with their needs and moving to the next level could be beyond their capabilities — opening up an opportunity.
Gacek says VARs who embrace changes and navigate them the best will find success. “Really understand where you are going, and always improve. That’s more important now than ever.”