The first week of April evokes new expectations for corporates and individuals alike.
The yearly plan, quarter breakouts, new initiatives, growth trajectory, company’s top-lines, profit chart, manpower cost - and just about everything is discussed in details. In the boardroom, in team leaders’ rooms, at offsite AGM and near the office coffee machine.
The enterprise technology channel partners have their broad level plans frozen within the first half of April. The three pivots of a channel company, each fiscal, rest on how it hinges its strategy on its tech OEM alliance(s), its GTM strategy, and customer acquisitions.
Several tier 2 channel partners’ ecospheres of systems integrators and solution providers are placed differently in the maturity index that denotes new technology adoption. But, there is a superset of business initiatives and technology directions most would embark on, as per their individual strengths in the marketplace.
Let me call out the most important ones for this fiscal year, in no particular order.
(1) Cloud is loud: Traditional channels hoping cloud will not bite into the on-premise business are on the wrong foot. Cloud service providers are forging channel alliances aggressively than ever. More and more companies are taking the cloud route.
Mantra: Don't get lost in the cloud hype.
(2) Insanity of Threats: IoT (Internet of Things) is gaining acceptance among companies, and they are connecting their customers’ devices, but this also means that wearables will open the floodgates for hackers. This will usher in a huge opportunity to build cyber security posture with the CISOs.
Mantra: Cyber security to be a hyper market.
(3) The M&A mania: Technology OEMs acquiring other companies left, right and center is not going to end anytime soon in 2017. The M&A spree will keep channel companies on their toes to relook at their vendor alliances on a more frequent basis.
Mantra: Don't keep all the eggs in one basket.
(4) Image makeover: Chief Digital Officers and CIOs will turn to channels for their organization's digital transformation journey. Get you teams' hands dirty in SMAC, converged infrastructure, artificial intelligence, big data, SDx and other emerging technologies.
Mantra: Wear ‘digital evangelist’ avatar ASAP.
(5) Bigger big data: Each department in an organization will mine and analyze the data lakes (internal and external) in some form or the other for productivity, cust-sat and revenues. Build an analytics and BI practice with the strategy of big data sprinkled in.
Mantra: Data to be the new oil, oxygen and more.
(6) Everything software: Software factories with app development, software testing is common in a modern company. Channels as software integrators will flourish, as hardware boxes move to third party DC than customer environment.
Mantra: The days of the pure hardware box are numbered.
(7) BYOS: Bring your own service(s) to help customers to rely on you as a trusted value added service provider. Bake services into the solutions sales, as almost every tech OEM emphasizes a services approach through channels.
Mantra: SI now means Services Integrator.
(8) Facetime with CIO: CIOs will remain the chief influencer officer, but more IT orders will emerge directly from LOBs and BUs this year. Cement your relationships with the customer's C-suite secs – CDO, CFO, CMO, LOB heads.
Mantra: Look beyond CIO connects for business.
(9) Mobility maze: Adopt the ‘going digital’ mantra to elevate mobility as the real business enabler for all organizations – big and small, B2B and B2C. Develop a mobility team with an app development unit to ride the tsunami of the mobile world.
Mantra : Catch the mobility network soon.
(10) Pain factor: Technologists being able to understand the customers’ IT infrastructure pain points, in a fast changing technology and hyper competitive business environment will turn out to be more successful. Selling technology as pure product is passé.
Mantra: Customer’s big pain is your bigger gain.
(11) Hello frenemy: A heterogeneous IT infrastructure with tech providers’ various solutions will continue to converge at the end-organization. Collaborate with your channel peers to execute big IT projects and make money together.
Mantra: Be open to collaborations with channels.
(12) Brand value : Don’t be wary of amplifying your and your company’s achievements through social media, PR strategy, digital marketing. A VC or a PE might get interested to invest a stake or acquire your company.
Mantra: Know your company’s worth in salt.
The twelve focus areas are not one for each month, but if companies adopt even some of them, they can empower the enterprise channels partners to stay on top of the game through the fiscal.
Wishing everyone and their organizations a great and profitable new fiscal year!