Our industry increasingly finds itself in the spotlight. On the one hand we are the salvation army, providing the wherewithal for businesses to transform and enable a remotely working world that has kept economies afloat and continues to provide customers with the means to survive.
On the other hand, we are seeing cyber attacks and ransomware impacting the IT systems of enterprises and government, causing concern within the general public, who are also witnessing the decline of many traditional businesses who have lost out to more agile, IT savvy competitors.
And, whilst in this spotlight, the leading Industry vendors are reviewing their go to market strategies for 2021, deciding if to integrate or silo their hardware, software, cloud and services offerings and how to re-arrange their teams in this ever-changing industry.
Regardless of the vendors decisions, Distributors have to silo their resources by vendor. This ensures teams understand the products technically, have knowledge of the support, commercial and incentive programmes (there are many) and can provide education and technical support in both pre and post-sales environments. Having a deep understanding of the vendors and their offerings is key to being a successful value-added distributor.
However, as a distributor, we know the partners requirements are very different. Their customers don’t buy products in silos anymore (it was a lot easier when they did!) but will try and find the solution that provides the desired outcome for their business. The selection process has less to do with the vendors name or brand and much more to do with the partner’s approach to solving the business problem and the perceived value to their business. (The maxim of Value = Benefit less Cost hasn’t changed, businesses are just getting better at understanding and evaluating the benefits and the associated costs).
This has resulted in partners having to carry more brands than 10 years ago and needing the ability within their sales teams to hold both technical and business conversations, across an ever-diversifying industry.
Traditionally, a customer request would fall into one of three categories.
- This is right up our street, we understand it, have a solution and can win the business.
- This is on the edge of what we do, could we build a new offering, perhaps create a new business model around it?
- It’s outside our skills and resources, either no bid or try and sell the customer on a different strategy.
All of these are valid responses, although trying to sell the customer on a new strategy can be time consuming, expensive and may lose you future opportunity; especially if the customer thinks you are not listening.
However, there is now a fourth way. The evolution of the Ecosystem. A willingness by both customers and partners to explore new ways of delivering the required outcome has become a realistic, alternative proposition. But how do you find, select and engage with another partner that might provide the parts of the solution jigsaw you don’t have?
That’s where the Tech Data Ecosystem comes in. Across the thousands (7000 in the UK) of partners we work with, someone will have the skills, resources and applications that could help you win that business. Our role within the Ecosystem team, is to try and match your opportunity or requirement for a different skill set, with a partner who can help you deliver against it.
In my discussions with partners I explain (often) that we are happy to provide a match making service, even some guidance around solutions design, joint value propositions and go to market ideas; but ultimately, it’s between the partners. Do they want to get engaged and take it further? Marriage guidance is not in our brief!
However, we can help you create and tell the story, promoting the joint proposition to a wider audience. And, as the pandemic lifts and we go back to face to face events, we can feature collaboration projects in our regional Meetups as well as the on-line Partner Showcases that we have been running over these past 12 months.
We already have some great projects running, as regular readers and contributors will know. Our next Ecosystem Webinar is focused on Supply Chain, with 4 partners introducing themselves and presenting how their solutions could help the UK Fashion and Textile Industry.
So, if you have an opportunity but are unsure how you might respond positively to it, or you have an industry solution requiring a route to market, please get in touch and let us see if we can help you with an Ecosystem introduction.
We won’t be able to resolve all the issues facing our industry today, but let’s at least have a go at the ones we can. We look forward to hearing from you.