CH: Telecom channel partners have a huge opportunity to be the front end of any cloud-based service to end customers. As with any partner channel, the key is understanding customer needs and aligning services based on those needs. This is especially true in the area of technology solutions. Whether it's cloud computing infrastructure services for IT departments or what we consider “finished goods" apps and desktops ready for consumption by end users, channel partners are able to match the solution to the need. The opportunity for channel partners in this new space is all about customer satisfaction. The management of IT is very personal to business owners, especially the SMB. The CEO wants to know exactly who he/she has entrusted their data to. When the channel partner has a relationship with the owner or IT manager of the business, the trust level increases right along with adoption of the services.
CP: How can channel partners create business value from technology solutions?
CH: We’re already seeing commodity services offered at a low cost based on scale, like hosted [Microsoft] Exchange-only for example, become a race to the bottom. The partner networks that will really be successful are the ones that can identify a strategy for differentiation. Your technology solution needs to offer a unique set of value, expertise and service — and one of the ways to do that is to offer combinations of finished goods and services for end users — like cloud desktops and apps — in your portfolio. Gone are the days of delivering piece parts to serve businesses. IT “solutions" are exactly that. The best way to sell technology to the end customer is to first ask the question, “Why?" Why is the customer looking for an IT-as-a-service model? As a trusted partner, once you’ve established the answer to this critical business question, you can better serve your customers with IT technology.
As a case example, one of our [partners] was providing outsourced IT to a physician's group in Atlanta. When the “Why" question was asked, it was determined that patient satisfaction was low because of the time it took for the physicians to handle information about each patient. The doctors literally had to drive to the place where the information was in order to access it and then contact each patient. By providing seamless cloud-based services to any location on any device, the patient satisfaction went up tremendously because the information was now readily available to the doctors. The group went "all-in" with the partner because they solved the “Why" issue and not because of any technology discussion.
Hear more from Citrix Vice President Calvin Hsu in his Keynote Address on "Creating Business Value" at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Feb. 27-March 1, in Las Vegas.