When it comes to helping IT providers build profitable businesses, Andrzej Bugowski, IoT & Analytics East Region Director, Tech Data has some valuable guidance and tips for customers
I love what I do at Tech Data for two main reasons. Firstly, I am passionate about Technology. Secondly, I thrive on helping organisations find ways to be more successful. So in that sense, I have the perfect job.
It’s not easy for the channel
I really feel for our customers, it is not easy being a provider of IT these days, especially in what we call the East Region, where I mainly serve. It is not just keeping abreast of the latest technologies that is challenging. It’s transitioning to those technologies. By that I mean, accessing the right skills and resources, whilst simultaneously bringing your customers along with you on that journey, or finding a completely new set of customers. Many companies are finely balanced between what it costs them to have the right resources and what their customers are prepared to pay for. It is about optimizing your team’s utilization. A key component of this is having a compelling value proposition that makes you unique in the market, and then being able to deliver on that proposition so that you can proudly stand head and shoulders above your competition.
IoT is a game changer
IoT is one of the next generation technologies that is a game changer for the channel and your customers. It is a technology that is innovation driven, which offers huge potential to completely transform a business model. There are of course IT providers out there that are happy to continue to sell IT hardware and software. Others are happy to stick with traditional services. However, if you want to be on the cutting edge, where there is the most opportunity and future, you need to be in IoT. Period.
Overcoming the barriers to entry
Getting started in IoT comes with a unique set of challenges. Firstly it is about focusing on innovative and transformational vertical market business outcomes, not the technology. No one buys IoT because it is IoT. They buy it because it allows their business to do something incredible. So you need real insight into the business challenges your customers are having. Then you need the ability to apply the IoT technology to innovate and solve those challenges. In the past your main contact might have been the IT team. However, with IoT it is about talking to key stakeholders in the business. Often, IoT solutions can be centered around operational technology, not information technology. So here you need a different approach to selling traditional IT. Guiding a customer through a process of changing their business model needs a very high caliber consultative type of sales team, as opposed to a transactional approach. You need to become a strategically critical trusted advisor to their board. Secondly, there is a technical consideration when it comes to IoT. At the risk of generalizing, many IoT solutions require varying levels of expertise from the point of collecting the data (sensors, apps, etc.), securing the data and routing it to a data centre or cloud, augmenting it with other data sets, using analytics and AI to gain meaning full insights and then providing some sort of output. This is a very broad skill set for any organization to have inhouse. For this reason, most of the successful IT providers in IoT will plug themselves into an IoT ecosystem of other complementary partners.
The secret is finding partners that provide lots of enablement opportunities
Part of the reason why I love what I do, is because Tech Data has invested so heavily in helping enable customers to smoothly transition into IoT. For starters, we have developed an IoT Practice Builder programme. It is designed to help you plan out where you want to be in the market and identify where the best opportunities are in key vertical markets (smart spaces, retail, manufacturing and transport & logistics). Then it will help you to develop a value proposition and structure sales, marketing and technical resources. I know I am bias, but believe me when I say this is an incredible and valuable programme.
If you are really new to IoT, you should check out our IoT Solution Factory (https://iotsolutions.techdata.com/) . This is where we’ve done much of the upfront development and testing. The solutions are largely ready to be sized and implemented. With these solutions, you have far less development costs and much shorter sales cycles. Plus of course, the solutions are scale able and repeatable! To be able to do this, we’ve had to invest in our own technical resources. You are able to draw on this resources of course to help you build your own proof-of-concepts. Related to this, we have a really cool demo centre, where you can invite your customers in and showcase various cutting edge solutions. I take great personal satisfaction when you see a customer come in and show their customer what’s possible. It’s like flicking on a switch and innovation ideas begin to flow!
When it comes to the IoT solutions themselves Tech Data is very must a solutions aggregator. We’ve built up a balanced portfolio of vendors comprising of known and trusted vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Adventech, HPE etc.) along with highly innovative vendors born in the IoT space. The portfolio has been skillfully constructed to ensure you can access the best technology for every IoT component, end-to-end. Then we have product specialists who are onboarding exciting new vendors all the time to give you the very best technology options. We’ve also built up an eco-system of partners with specialist industry knowledge or technology expertise. The IoT ecosystem is hugely important when it comes to helping you profitably design and implement enterprise strength customized IoT solutions.
The really good news is that Tech Data has dedicated IoT specialists locally and regionally. In the East Region we are hosting various enablement events. In March and April we are planning a series of local webinars for Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Plus we are in the throes of arranging a kick-off in September.
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