“Then you can demonstrate how the customer can take advantage of the latest cloud technologies and it’s a conversation they will have. SMBs want to hear your vision for the future rather than just coming in and simply taking over the last provider.”
But despite the new techniques required by partners when selling cloud technologies, old habits continue to creep into the channel process, with resellers continuing to rest on old laurels.
“There’s still a tendency to want to do the same as we have done before but do it slightly better,” King said. “But the customer wants something entirely different.
“The channel is now challenged to move away from the mindset of focusing on incremental improvement to looking at an entirely different way of doing things.”
Citing the example of Amazon Web Services (AWS), King said that because the cloud giant started out as a book seller rather than an IT vendor, it wasn’t bogged down by the baggage of past decisions.
“They are constantly looking outside of the box and are focusing on where the customer wants to be in two years time, rather than two years ago,” he added.
For Elliott, the industry as a whole remains in a “race to the bottom” through the move to cloud.
“Realistically, if you can make seven per cent out of reselling a cloud service then you’re doing well,” he said. “Then everything is the value you can add on top of the platform. It’s now a business conversation and as a partner we are selling value.”
In the channel, resellers have always lived or died by the extra value they bring around support and services, with cloud providing another opportunity to create incremental revenue streams going forward.
In looking ahead, and as more leading-edge IT capabilities become available only in the cloud, reluctant organisations will edge closer to cloud adoption.
Change will not only arrive at the door of the customer however, but also the partner, with rigid resellers incapable of producing agile IT solutions.
Spanning technology and business challenges, transitioning from a transactional player to a leading cloud provider is a transition fraught with difficulties, creating a need for partners to leverage the wider capabilities of the channel — which includes distribution.
While the critics continue to think of distributors as pick-pack-ship operations with “order fulfilment” as a primary function, history shows that wherever technology goes, distribution follows, with cloud proving no exception for the channel.
“The key in distribution is to navigate very complex vendor processes and simplify them for our partners,” Valente said. “Some of the processes and compliance issues in place are very complicated and for resellers, complication equals cost. Our role is to take the cost out of their business.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.