I got my start in the channel working for a newly appointed Microsoft software distributor where I managed the Microsoft product line. In those days, working for a distributor meant moving heavy boxes filled with thick training manuals, managing floppy drives and SKUs, expediting shipping, executing big launch events and delivering partner education—classroom style.
Along with all this, we also provided product support and often interacted directly with end users who were trying to understand how technology could be used. “You mean you can hook two PCs together and they ‘talk’ to one another?” Anyone remember Windows for Workgroups? Oh those were the days!
And Then Came the Cloud
I was definitely curious how distributors today are using the Cloud to innovate their business model. I recently attended the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit and was pleasantly surprised and energized by what I saw. The distributors I have spoken with are doing a tremendous amount of repositioning and are an essential tool in any partner’s toolbox. Where else can you procure Azure or IBM Cloud and a myriad of other software tools all in one spot? They do all the contractual agreements, negotiate the cost, help ISVs retool their products for the Cloud and much more.
It’s apparent to me that partners who create and deliver total packaged solutions for their clients will be the ultimate winners, especially if they have just one spot to procure everything they need—from managed IT services to business software and third-party applications—whether it’s all in the Cloud or a hybrid.
The Value in Building a Complete Portfolio
Publishers such as Microsoft and Amazon, and others with marketplaces, are doing a lot of heavy lifting helping ISVs and app builders build and present their IP in a way that’s easier for customers to buy. At the same time, when visiting some of these marketplaces the experience feels a lot like going to buy a loaf of bread at a grocery store and being presented with 150 options – HOW and WHAT do you choose?
This is where the savvy partner comes in. The partner with a vision or a specific vertical focus who can take all the options and curate a solution for their clients from these rich portfolios of cloud products. We already know clients want to work with partners they trust and limit the number of providers they deal with. Most of them prefer to keep their business in one place and now, with a growing portfolio of services and solutions on these marketplaces, partners can address nearly any client need.
These marketplaces provide partners with the choice and the flexibility they need to create or curate comprehensive or specialized solutions for their clients. This also enables partners to continuously offer new, modern and innovative solutions as their customers’ business evolves—keeping the partner engaged and relevant so it’s easier to sustain long-term customer relationships.