Last month when I spoke to Darren Bibby, program vice president, channels and alliances research at IDC, about partner collaboration as the path to new and broader channel business opportunities, he said that he considers partner collaboration as the eighth transformation area that IT solution providers must deal with to transform their business. Why the eight and, what are the other seven?
In a presentation that Bibby put together this year, Business Transformations in the Third Platform, he highlighted seven vital areas partners must tackle to transform their business: technology, time horizon, customer, sales motion, marketing, activities and competition – partner collaboration, which wasn’t on that list at the time he put together his report, would make it eight.
As covered in the article – “New Types of Partners Spark Channel Alliance opportunities” – SearchITChannel delved into what partner collaboration looks like, why partner companies need to make it a business imperative and how some channel partners make it work.
But what about the other seven transformation areas that Bibby noted in his research that partner firms need to keep front and center?
The first area is technology, which is moving from the 2nd to the 3rd platform and along with it – spending. The 2nd platform is defined by distributed systems with packaged software compared to the 3rd platform that has cloud at its core, drives always-on connected mobile devices, employs social technologies and supports new cloud workloads, according to IDC. The research firm contends that the 3rd platform drives 30% of information and communications technology spending and 100% of spending growth.
The second partner transformation, time horizon, is on a steady and steep upward trajectory toward the future and encompasses everything from technology to how customers buy to impacting the sales motion to marketing etc. Partners must take action and change the way they do business and keep it in motion.
Already underway at many customer businesses is the change in who has a role in technology purchases and how business customers purchase technology. The changing buyer represents the third transformation area. Today, it’s largely the IT department, but not for long. By 2016, line of business executives will be directly involved in 80% of new IT investments, according to IDC.
As technology moves from the 2nd to 3rd platform and the buyer changes, the sales motion changes as well. According to Bibby, the sales motion will transform from a deal to a relationship. Selling technology is rapidly changing to solving a customer’s business problem to deliver business outcomes.
Partner marketing is the fifth transformation area and one that’s quickly moving away from traditional marketing to digital marketing, i.e. Internet, online video, mobile and social media. It’s the partner’s job to capture customers on their buying journey as well as more tightly align the sales and marketing functions.
What activities partners engage in as they transform their business must change as represented in the sixth transformation. A partner business must transform from resale to services, from professional services to managed services and, from services to creating unique intellectual property, according to IDC.
Finally, partner firms, if they haven’t already noticed, will see their competition change from companies that looked more like them (traditional) to a slew of new faces that are non-traditional – vendors, digital marketing firms, born-in-the-cloud companies, distributors, and, even their customers.
So, it makes sense as partners transform their businesses to become more technologically specialized, vertical and unique, with honed sales and marketing machines, they collaborate with other partners to more confidently face the future.
In earlier IDC research that addressed partner-to-partner collaboration, the research firm highlighted what it called the partnering maturing model. According to that model, maturing moves from basic (or local, subcontracting) and reactive (or ad hoc, local) types of partner partnering to more proactive (deal planning, more geographically diverse) and dynamic (annual planning and integrated go-to-market) types of partner partnering.
Where on the model is your business?