Pick Your Path: Planning for 2014 and Beyond

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No pressure, but planning for your future — not only next year — starts now. "This may be a defining moment for many in the technology channel," said channel expert Tiffani Bova, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner Inc. "Decisions made in the coming months will have long-term implications for the future viability of existing business models." 

Cloud, social and mobile influences have transformed the way businesses buy and use information technology. Organizations of all sizes are looking to optimize processes in both the front office (e.g., customer care, sales, marketing and distribution) and the back office (e.g., finance and accounting, HR and supply chain). However, as long as the channel remains comfortable selling and servicing IT without considering the broader needs of the business, they may find it more difficult to grow in the future.

Gartner's Tiffani BovaHere are Bova's recommendations for what you can do today to impact what kind of company you can be two to three years from now.

Path 1: Keep doing business the way you have with the offerings and providers you currently work with.

  • Opportunity: Get more focused on a particular vertical segment and create differentiation on "how" you deliver solutions and not get caught up in "what" you sell.
  • Risk: If you don’t find a way to stand out from the crowd, you will be viewed as a "supplier" of technology and, more often than not, compete on price versus business value.
  • Action: Take an inventory of your business, find those sales opportunities where you win and those where you lose and understand why. Where you win, double down, highlight those reasons customers choose you in everything you do. Where you lose, speak with customers to understand why, then make course corrections where you can (and where it makes sense) to shore up those gaps in your marketing, sales or products and services. Look at each situation through the eyes of your customer — not yours or your suppliers.

Path 2: Find natural evolution points in your current offerings and begin to develop outcome-based offerings that are more compelling, especially to new buyers, such as marketing and sales executives.

  • Opportunity: The new front-office buyers are looking for outcome-based services to create competitive advantages for their businesses, so your opportunity is to go to market with integrated offers that solve specific business problems in ways that are easy to understand, consume and measure.
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