We often throw out that there is this wonderful benefit of moving to Cloud services, and that is shifting from CAPEX to OPEX models. On paper it sounds great, and from an accounting 101 perspective, is certainly desirable, but what we haven't managed particularly well is helping the partner community and, in many cases, the customers migrate to that sort of flexible model as well. Even in our own industry, the bulk of our sales organisations, in most cases, are compensated around perpetual delivery, perpetual license delivery or hardware delivery. So if we posit this flexible, agile OPEX-based annuity model through to the customers as being beneficial, which it is, you also need to reflect that in a way that we manage our own sales teams, in many cases. And that's still one of the hurdles that we haven't properly overcome the way we should.
JO: How much do partners have to lift the game and offer solution selling to customers?
Nathan Vandenberg, Dimension Data (NV): There are lots of similarities that resellers are all going through, similar processes, and certainly, that shift to solution selling is a true one. We're finding we have to look at the more complete picture starting particularly from the business layer, that business process layer, and working downwards through the stack. Traditionally, as IT people, we've worked from the bottom upwards through the stack.
When we talk about things like automation and orchestration and business value and payback, show back, we need to start at that business process layer and that application layer, and then, work down through the stack, and set up the right architectures that support that, rather than move from the bottom up. And then try to build these architectures on top, which has historically, proven to fail. But you can't just walk up to a customer, and have that process layer discussion. We've tended to find where we've got most traction is by those customers we've had a longer relationship with, so those that are five years, 10 years.
We've known them, and transacted with them through traditional things like the routing, the switching, and the licensing. And we've got that trust. We've got the relationship, and we've got a bit of a proven track record as well. So then we're able to have that conversation. It's a change, and it's a change for our architects and our engineers and the whole business.
JO: And a change for the sales people, right across the board.
NV: Yes, we're having to, at different stages of transition, in the industry, support the sales people at certain times, as they catch up and learn. You just can't expect sales people to, tomorrow, be solution selling sales people, across the full stacks, where they used to just be really good routing and switching people or good server people.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.