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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

How can suppliers identify cloud partners most likely to be successful

How can cloud suppliers identify the partners most likely to be successful or very successful in selling cloud? Techaisle’s 7th year of channel tracking survey data indicates that a powerful indicator is found in the growth paths identified by channel firms.

Characteristics of very successful cloud channel partners (“what to look for”)

  • Very successful cloud channel firms view advanced solutions as major opportunities and are focused on growing business in BI/analytics and IoT
  • Very successful cloud firms recognize that hybrid IT is the key and are anticipating increased revenue from data and/or application integration than their less successful peers
  • Nearly 90% of very successful cloud channel firms (as compared with just 23% of unsuccessful firms) offer IaaS to SMB customers
  • Over 90% of very successful cloud partners offer SaaS today. Less than one-third of unsuccessful cloud partners offer SaaS, and 20% neither offer it nor are planning to do so
  • Successful cloud partners view partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships as a strategic imperative, whereas unsuccessful partners connect with other channel firms on an opportunistic basis
  • There is a clear, multi-year trend of very successful cloud channel partners differentiating themselves by selling self-branded (and supported) cloud offerings
  • There is strong evidence in data to support the notion that very successful cloud partners are focused on assembling multi-sourced solutions to meet customer needs, 57% of very success cloud partners as compared to 31% of unsuccessful and 34% of successful partners
  • Three-quarters of very successful and nearly 70% of successful cloud partners offer UCaaS, vs. just 20% of unsuccessful firms
  • Successful channel firms are actively participating in cloud and IT orchestration and are investing in technology advisory & architects
  • Digitalization & digital transformation are new focus areas of very successful channel partners

What to look out for – characteristics of unsuccessful cloud partners

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12 points for Cloud Channel Transformation

Recent work by Techaisle shows that the need for channel management imperatives has expanded beyond the tactical questions of sales or management metrics or marketing activities. Techaisle has identified twelve fundamental areas where conventional wisdom has not kept pace with the fast emerging business needs of the channel. Channel policies based on conventional wisdom and past history is leading channel organizations away from the practices needed to compete successfully in the cloud market. Techaisle has developed 12 points for transformation of SMB channels table to illustrate ways that channel organizations must alter basic attitudes towards their business in order to be successful in the current and future IT market. Table below compares old model with new model with imperatives that are losing relevance with those that are emerging.

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Dell’s Channel Chief Cheryl Cook continuing to motivate partners

Dell has been busy, its channel partners are increasing their likeability of the company, and Cheryl Cook, Vice President of Dell’s Global Channels & Alliances is staying steady on her path to grow and maintain channel partners who add value to their customers. In Techaisle’s latest US SMB Channel Partner Trends survey, 57% of both Dell & non-Dell partners said they “Like” Dell, up from 53% a year ago and substantially higher than two years ago. In Q4, total North America partner revenue was up and while majority of North America channel partners showed growth, Dell’s distribution partners experienced double digit growth.

In a recent discussion with Techaisle on the state of the Dell channel, Cheryl Cook focused on:

  • Partner direction
  • Partner experience
  • Partner competencies
  • Partner cloud playbook
  • Partner investments
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Indicators of managed services channel (MSP) success

Where is the SMB managed services channel today, as we enter 2016? Since 2013, managed services has taken deep root within the channel, and at the same time, some of the firms that were only casually involved with managed services have pulled back in order to focus in other areas. In the report, The SMB Channel & Managed Services: Success Metrics, Techaisle uses findings from 808 in-depth surveys with US-based channel firms to illuminate conditions within the US SMB managed services channel, and to develop perspectives that suppliers (and the channel itself) can use to construct successful managed services channel strategies. The survey identified a set of issues that is highly correlated with very successful managed services channel businesses, another that can be used to identify partners that are likely to be unsuccessful in managed services, and a third which lacks predictive value.

Results from three annual Techaisle channel surveys, shown in figure below, show that the trend towards specialization – in which channel members commit more strongly to managed services, or move away in order to focus on other areas – is well underway. 64 percent of the channel is ‘very successful’ in selling managed services, meaning that the population of very successful managed services channel members has increased by nearly 70 percent since 2013. A much smaller but growing proportion (currently 11 percent, more than double the 5 percent logged in 2013) acknowledges that it is not having success with managed services. MSPs and SPs report the highest level of success in selling managed services, while SIs, consultants and (especially) VARs are see less success.

techaisle channel msp resized

A view of these findings organized by core business model provides additional insight into the partner communities where managed services are – and are not – gaining traction. As would be expected, managed service providers themselves are most likely to report success in managed services sales. Beyond this group, there are several interesting observations contained within the data:

  • Nearly three-quarters of service providers state that they are “very successful” at selling managed services. This is an important issue within this community: SPs increasingly rely on managed services to differentiate their core hosting or connectivity services, which are (in many cases) relatively low-margin, and which offer limited prospects for future growth. Perhaps the most interesting finding for SPs is that 18 percent consider themselves to be unsuccessful in selling managed services. This group will be at risk as they compete with firms that augment core service presence with expanded, high-margin service portfolios that lock in an increased share of ‘customer wallet’.
  • SIs are not especially aggressive in this space. At a high level, this data makes intuitive sense: SIs tend to have engagements that have a fixed duration and deliverable and managed services involve longer-term relationships tied to SLAs rather than functional specifications. However, it might be expected that SIs facing a shrinking product delivery market (due to increased use of cloud) might look to solidify customer relationships via managed services. The data shows that some SIs are following this path, they are either not committed to this strategy or are actively pursuing other options.
  • Consultants and (especially) VARs are tepid in their pursuit of managed services business. Corresponding 2016 channel reports from Techaisle (see details below) show that VARs are finding great success in cloud, while consultants report that they are experiencing high levels of mobility sales success. Neither group seems particularly enthralled with managed services

It’s clear to all of us that today’s IT industry is comprised of many ‘moving pieces’. This is especially true in the SMB segment: with cloud, mobility and managed services, the buyer’s options have expanded; with the increased involvement of non-IT managers (in both ‘real’ and shadow IT), the buyer community has expanded; and with the channel’s struggle to understand and act on the new cloud-driven demands of a post-transactional IT market, the supply chain itself is undergoing tremendous change.

Techaisle is committed to working with the IT industry to ensure that these changes result in increased opportunity. Techaisle has recently completed two large-scale surveys – one of channel partners (VARs, SIs, MSPs, SPs and IT consultants) and another of SMBs (firms with 1-999 employees). We have also created a thought leadership piece, “Channel Imperatives for 2020: The Changing Channel for a Post-transactional IT market” which examines how 12 tenets of ‘conventional wisdom’ in the channel – mantras like the need to add value, or to increase service revenue, or to focus sales people on retiring quota, or to assemble and deliver best-of-breed solutions – are giving way to new management imperatives. We believe that this research is essential for suppliers looking to plot a channel-centric strategy for SMB market development by capitalizing on the insights contained in our analysis.

The series of three channel focused reports are The SMB Channel and Cloud: Success Metrics, The SMB Channel and Mobility: Success Metrics and The SMB Channel and Managed Services: Success Metrics. Each contains charts and analysis that can be used to identify high-value ‘very successful’ partners and avoid low-value ‘unsuccessful’ channel organizations. They are designed to connect with channel marketing, recruitment and management strategy.

techaisle channel success reports resized

 

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