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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.

Capturing the Midmarket digital transformation business value map

IT trends belong to one of two main categories. Some, like Linux or cloud, refer to a product or product category that changes IT strategies by providing breakthrough capabilities. Others are statements of IT strategy, highlighting opportunities to directly connect IT capabilities to broader business objectives.

Digital transformation (DX) is an example of this second type of trend. DX, according to a report by global research leader Techaisle, is the integration of digitalized processes to achieve enterprise-wide automation spanning multiple functions; modernization of current processes and supporting infrastructure to achieve previously-unattainable or unimaginable business outcomes.

Digital transformation isn’t defined by a single initiative or end-point. DX describes an evolving set of capabilities that connect investments in core technologies to enhanced operational efficiency, employee empowerment, product innovation and customer intimacy – which in turn enable DX adopters to increase revenue, decrease costs, reach new markets, deliver better products and services, and ultimately, drive more profit and improve shareholder value.

Viewed from this outcome’s perspective, DX success is rooted in the ability to connect incremental investments in technology with milestone achievements, aligned within a roadmap that ties to the organizational vision of modern capabilities delivering new levels of business performance.

The channel will play a critical role in guiding midmarket firms through the DX transformation. This starts with helping IT and executives within client organizations to define their vision for the key competency areas: mapping the digital transformation pillars to business outcomes provides IT and non-IT management with a cohesive set of meaningful objectives for addressing business pain points.

techaisle midmarket business value map

Capturing the midmarket DX opportunity

What does the channel need to do to translate midmarket demand for DX and its attendant benefits into long-term customer relationships? To capitalize on the DX opportunity, channel partners need to develop deep understanding of how the DX platform is built – how this framework supports process evolution – and how to cleanly align the IT and process frameworks with a delivery plan that addresses midmarket executive care-abouts.

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IBM empowering partner ecosystem to co-create the future

Enablement, execution, empowerment and experiences are the unwritten principles driving the entire IBM partner team in transforming the rules of partner engagement. At the recently concluded IBM PartnerWorld at Think conference in San Francisco, the term partner ecosystem was emblazoned across the entire IBM partner leadership team. Techaisle data shows that channel partners are faced with balancing investment in depth vs breadth and increasingly turning to a larger ecosystem for partner-to-partner collaboration. Between 2014-2018 there has been a 69% increase in opportunistic partner collaboration for sales. By using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to empower its partners, IBM is formalizing partner-to-partner collaboration and ecosystem, named IBM Business Partner Connect, built on Watson.

With an instant match capability, IBM Business Partner Connect has been designed to accelerate solutions for end-customers by matching partners looking for assistance with partners offering expertise. Business Partner Connect also allows partners to join the business partner Slack community to share best practices and find new partnership opportunities. In its pilot stage, approximately 800 partners participated, which unveiled 300 matches.

Enablement to Empowerment

In the current channel world – where core business conditions, market opportunities and requirements are all in flux – an opportunity to provide relevant guidance, targeted business advice from IBM, plus peer-level input, is an enormously important and valuable capability. Partners need guidance to transition through current market and business changes and a community is an appropriate context for this guidance, and leading the community will be IBM at the center of this dialogue/activity. Over time, Business Partner Connect and the community platform will give IBM the ability to involve a large number of partners, increase IBM’s centricity, and provide a revenue line into the channel operation.

It is quite evident that a key factor in IBM’s partner program’s momentum and transformation has been John Telstch’s leadership and his own ecosystem of senior leaders (Carola Cazenave, Jacqueline Woods, Catherine Solazzo, Chris Oliver, Jamie Mendez, Ken Gregory and Rose Nunez). He has been listening, responding and committing to having the channel partner’s back. Techaisle’s latest study of channel partners shows that 52% of partners want their vendor partner channel chiefs to be setting a clear overall strategy and 44% value trustworthiness and accountability. John gets a check mark on both these value traits.

Vendor organizations usually focus on simplifying drivers of channel enablement, but IBM is consciously extending enablement to empowerment to deliver customer success. Enablement (usually incentives) is a short-term lever to change immediate partner behavior for achieving sales quotas and revenue targets. Regardless of addressing short-term objectives, it is necessary. In Techaisle’s study, 50% of partners mentioned that incentive programs are important for marketing and sales. Empowerment helps partners transform themselves from a vendor’s sales agents to sales advocates especially when increasingly partners are focusing on business outcomes with hybrid/as-a-Service delivery solutions and shared-risk partnerships. IBM has spent the last one year in understanding the present and is working consciously and furiously in shaping the future.

Simplifying partner experiences

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Digital transformation and customer intimacy in modern midmarket – 3rd pillar of DX

A Techaisle survey of nearly 900 midmarket firms in the US found that 41% of midmarket firms believe digital technologies impact every aspect of the business and are a core part of organizational strategy and more than one-third of midmarket businesses – 34% - believe that digital transformation is a key to customer intimacy. Executives are surrounded by examples of organizations that are using data – drawn from integrated internal systems, or from social media, or from far-flung sensors, or from third party services, or from a mix of all of these sources – to improve the key operating parameters of their businesses. Midmarket firms anticipate 21% improvement in upsell/cross-sell, 20% improvement in brand image and 19% improvement in customer satisfaction as outcomes of a successful DX strategy.

DX-enabled organizations generate more revenue from cross-sell/upsell; they have greater customer loyalty; they are able to open new markets and introduce new products and services faster and with better payback periods. And they do this through customer intimacy – by better understanding what their clients want and need, and by being agile in responding to these wants and needs. Techaisle research finds, in fact, that performance metrics that are tied to customer intimacy – improved upsell/cross-sell of products, improved brand image, and better customer satisfaction and retention – are the areas expected to improve the most as a result of digital transformation in the organization.

The constraints
Building customer intimacy is a little bit like making Baked Alaska: the promise is delicious, but the method is mysterious. With Baked Alaska, it’s the notion that ice cream can emerge from an oven unmelted. With customer intimacy, it’s the mystery of how to successfully aggregate data and integrate it with customer-facing activities.

techaisle digital transformation 3 2

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Dell Channel Partner Program – a reality check

Data speaks volumes

Techaisle’s channel survey data shows that Dell channel partners’ perception about Dell has improved by nearly 50 percent in the last 4 years. 61 percent of partners say that they trust Dell, up from 43 percent in 2014, an increase of 42 percent. Similarly, 45 percent of partners believe that Dell has cutting edge technology, an increase of 45 percent from 2014. Most interestingly, unlike in the last several years, 57 percent of partners mention that they like Dell as a partner, very similar to HPE partners liking HPE. For 93 percent of partners, Dell’s messaging on Simple, Predictable & Profitable has resonated although variations in perception remain. Dell’s messaging on digital transformation also seems to be having a positive effect on its channel partners. 65% of Dell partners are currently offering some form of digital transformation solutions and 76% have moved beyond 1st step of digital transformation, which is, digitization, the lowest ladder of the transformation journey. However, not all have reached the pinnacle of transformative solutions.

Dell Technologies channel revenue is US$43B, slightly above 50 percent of Dell revenue (had languished around 40 percent the last 3 years) which is bigger than revenues of Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and would neatly fit as a Fortune 64 company. In Q1’19, Dell channel revenue grew by 14% Y/Y and distribution by 19% Y/Y.

All of the above statistics are very impressive and are a result of Dell’s wide solution portfolio range as well as a maniacal focus on streamlining channel partner’s total experience which includes simplified deal registration by accelerating deal registration response time to 4 hours for most deals and 48 hours for storage; accelerated speed to quote by providing best price faster and 80 percent within 4 hours and 95 percent within 24 hours; and finally, faster speed to pay by cutting cycle time by nearly 30 percent.

Dell listening, partners noticing

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