The last two years have seen a rapid acceleration in the adoption of cloud technologies and services. Part of it was reactionary, as cloud services enabled workforces to operate remotely. But the interest in the cloud was also strategic. KPMG predicted that 80 per cent of revenue growth for businesses would come from digital offerings, and cloud technology is an essential foundation towards delivering on that opportunity. Channel organisations have therefore been tasked with firstly helping customers transition to cloud, and then to look for strategic opportunities with the new environment.
Despite this interest from customers, there does persist the perception that cloud is a disruptive and therefore undesirable matter for the channel. According to Crayon, global leader in software asset management, innovation, and cloud optimization, channel businesses actually stand to benefit by supporting their customers in the cloud, by playing a consulting and holistic fulfilment role. To help avoid the cloud becoming disruptive to them, the company has undertaken a number of activities to assist partners, including the development of its platform, named Cloud-IQ, that aims to simplify and speed up the work that channel partners can do across provisioning and managing cloud subscriptions.
“Channel partners need to adapt to an unprecedented wave of consolidation of IT players, to a major shift to subscription/consumption-based models, to higher expectations from customers to better secure the products and services they sell, and to a major evolution of channel programs,” Stephanie Benisty, Crayon VP for Channel and Cloud, said.
“Wise partners are building scalable practices to capture this revenue through professional services such as integration, security, compliance, managed services, and of course, a massive number of applications. We see it very clearly at Crayon, the ISV population has been growing exponentially.”
Dealing with customers in the cloud
Another factor currently in the channel’s favour is the IT skills required to manage cloud environments, which are in short supply across the Asia-Pacific region. Research last year showed that close to three quarters or organizations across the APAC region was facing critical skills shortages. Channel organizations can leverage their in-house technical capabilities as a resource to the benefit of their customers, saving them the need to try and locate skills internally.
According to Benisty, this all further highlights just how uniquely placed the channel is to add strategic value to their customer’s IT environments. “The mission of the channel remains fundamentally the same in the cloud and on-premises. The mission is to aggregate technologies and services, delivering innovative solutions to solve customers’ problems effectively. It is the pace of innovation which has increased,” she said.
However, channel partners themselves need help in grappling with technology solutions and the rate of change. Benisty claims that as Crayon is the third largest SPLA Aggregator, and the third largest CSP Indirect Provider worldwide, it offers compelling solutions to partners with regards to Microsoft cloud environments. Partnering with Crayon means instant access to software and cloud experts, that will help channel organizations to grow their business, profitability, and end-customer success. The range of benefits that Crayon offers its partners are broad, but two key ones are:
· A close partnership with Microsoft. As such a large partner to the company, Crayon can assist partners with significant technology opportunities, such as Microsoft’s New Commerce Experience (NCE) that brings substantial changes in how Microsoft partners transact and work with their customers. It is critical for channel organisations to count on a trusted advisor like Crayon who is ready for those changes and can help them navigate the operational, commercial, and financial consequences for their company.
· Take away the operational, technical, and financial complexity of dealing with cloud is top of mind for Crayon. With Cloud-IQ, channel partners can provision, manage, and bill cloud subscriptions through a single-pane portal view. The partner is supported at every stage by the Crayon Cloud Desk Team to ensure that all benefits are leveraged in full.
Crayon continues to invest in ways to further support the channel, too. The company recently, in late 2021, the company acquired Rhipe with this in mind. Rhipe has a proven track record in marketing services and particularly lead generation, which will now assist Crayon partners in deepening their engagement and outreach opportunities.
Preparing a channel business for the cloud
Crayon advocates for a three-pronged approach to cloud readiness for the channel:
- Have a strategy in place for how the business will be structured, and how the sales and service capabilities will allow them to embrace the cloud opportunity. This means adapting the business model to a new way of creating, delivering and managing services. In a consumption-based economy, the conversation with the customer is permanent, so is the opportunity to grow usage and to provide more value.
- Accept that Collaboration is key. If channel partners don’t yet offer the services their customers require, they need to find a partner that can help them source new services and capabilitiess. Peer-to-Peer is a reality in cloud.
- The user experience is extremely important. The demand for automation has significantly increased. It is certainly because the buyer has changed – it is not only the IT department consuming cloud services, but very often the Finance or Marketing Departments.
This isn’t necessarily easy to achieve. The shift from the traditional sales cycle to a consumption-based model can put strain on a channel organization’s cash flow, and the business needs to be resourced differently towards ongoing and incremental engagement.
The opportunity is too pertinent to the current market conditions to overlook, however, and at all levels of enterprise it is the cloud where end users will be looking for the greatest assistance. Collaborating with a partner such as Crayon provides the local channel with a depth of resources and capabilities that will help them to maximize the opportunities within their customers.
For more information on Crayon solutions and its channel program, click here.