By David Sebestyen
As a pure-play IT cloud partner, I often am asked about the best cloud solutions telecom agents should sell to get their cloud compute practice off the ground. Hosted PBX and the like have been easy entry points into selling cloud for some telecom agents, but many are finding these "telecom extensions" provide neither a platform nor a path that leads to building a cloud computing practice. Closing this gap to the compute side is very high on most agents' priority lists.
So, how do you jump-start your cloud computing practice? First, you need to first define what "the best" cloud product or solution means to you. For my company, it has always been about delivering those products and services that provide the highest value to the client while nurturing and protecting the long-term relationship by staying ahead of the rapidly changing technology curve and thus remaining in the forefront of the client's mind as the "go-to person" for technology. In other words, it means being a strategic business adviser who consults with executive management on business transformation via technology as opposed to a person who peddles technology products or services — either as a middleman or as a service provider.
A Decision Framework
You may have identified hosted email as a foot in the cloud computing door. While hosted email has its advantages, what you really need is a solid framework through which to evaluate any solution that you may wish to represent. Any new solution set will require a significant investment of time, money and effort in order for you to develop a differentiating level of expertise in the space. So, you must avoid knee-jerk entries and initiatives that amount to nothing more than following the crowd. Instead, consider solutions that fulfill as many of the following four core criteria as possible:
- Reaches across all industries. A horizontal solution helps you avoid having to develop a vertical specialty or expertise, which, while absolutely necessary, takes much longer, requires more resources and is, therefore, not part of a realistic "phase one" plan.
- Is easily understood and needed by most businesses. This criterion is essential for scaling. It also is helpful for the solution to present a potential crossover sale with your core network services offer.
- Causes little or no business disruption. Business disruption is possible with any IT service, but ideally you want the first cloud sale to your client to have very low probability of disrupting its employees. This criterion single-handedly makes hosted email a less desirable entry point.
- Solves a core business problem that keeps decision makers up at night while aligning you with the client's internal or external IT people. This is all-important because it positions you correctly and achieves significant customer mindshare with the first cloud sale, which is a prerequisite for a successful long-term cloud practice.