Headed into 2014, I’ve been asked what the key areas are that people need to get smarter about to be successful selling cloud in the new year. Even after several years of buzz and progress, there remains a tremendous amount of confusion around cloud. Trusted advisers who understand how to apply cloud technologies to solve real business problems are at a true premium. Those who invest in getting smarter about cloud are going to be the big winners next year. But with so much noise around all things cloud, where is the right place to start? What technologies should you explore more deeply now to set yourself up for big success in 2014?
Here are my top five.
#1: Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS)
I recently posed the question, “Is DaaS the next hosted VoIP?" There are certainly compelling parallels between the adoption of these technologies. Hosted VoIP (voice over IP) was a big idea with lots of promise for a long time before it went mainstream. When that happened, the pricing was all over the board. The delivery and customer experience were inconsistent. The total cost of ownership argument was unpredictable. Since then, though, those issues have worked themselves out, and hosted VoIP has won its following. Companies of all sizes are adopting it as their go-to telephony and UC (unified communications) solution.
DaaS is on the same path but perhaps at an even more accelerated pace. Just this year, we’ve seen a big shift from lots of quotes to lots of closes. The lookers are now buyers as they recognize the enormous business problems that DaaS can solve. Pricing has stabilized, and a growing list of providers are delivering excellent customer experiences, including Evolve IP, Matrix, RapidScale, and Navisite — to name a few. I’m convinced that 2014 will mark the year DaaS goes mainstream. Those who get smart on DaaS will stand to reap big financial rewards.
#2 : Cloud-Enabled Colo
More and more customers are recognizing that it makes more sense to park their infrastructure in someone else’s closet instead of their own. Cloud is becoming a popular destination for that infrastructure but rarely is it a pure-play cloud solution. In fact, the demand for colocation is on the rise, and customers are now seeking colo solutions that can serve as a bridge into their overall cloud strategy. It’s not just space and power that matter, but locating data centers that are easily connected with cloud assets: big pipes, scalable bandwidth on demand and low-latency peering with public and private cloud providers. Server Central, Savvis and Internap are at the forefront of this conversation. Cloud-enabled colo will repeatedly ring the cash register for forward-thinking channel partners in 2014.
#3 : Cloud Contact Centers
You may have heard me say in the past that contact centers simply belong in the cloud. I still believe that and, in fact, nearly every contact center developer and manufacturer has embraced that thinking. The good news is that most contact centers haven’t made the move yet, and many will be evaluating the cloud as an alternate destination in the coming year.
The other exciting trend is the number of companies embracing cloud contact center solutions that previously never actually managed a traditional call center environment. Companies are learning that driving analytics and intelligence to their sales and customer support people can drive big efficiencies and bigger revenue. There is gold to be mined in every customer touch, and cloud contact center solutions are a fantastic way to do just that. We’re winning big, complex deals on the high-end with the likes of inContact and LiveOps. Suppliers like iCore and Evolve IP are grabbing attention with really disruptive pricing.
Learn to have the conversation: it could be a game changer for you in 2014.
#4 : Video-as-a-Service (VaaS)
I’m convinced this will finally be the year that VaaS breaks out. The value of video conferencing can’t be argued, and with the explosion in mobility, video adoption is finally accelerating. WebRTC will throw gas on that fire, and cloud is making video accessible to the masses. I love the innovative solutions that Simple Signal and Arkadin are doing in this exciting space.
At Intelisys, we’re embracing VaaS for our own use, and it’s changing the way we communicate. With a distributed workforce, there is no better way for a team to stay connected. Strategy is clearer, decisions are better, and your competitive edge is sharper. If you want to win more VaaS deals, use it yourself. Use it in your offices, with your remote employees, on your tablet, on your smartphone and with your customers. It will change your business and will drive more revenue through the front door.
#5 : Selling Is Dead: The Evolution of Solution Selling
The bottom line is this: Cloud demands a different sales approach. Customers are swimming in a sea of confusion and desperately need help navigating those waters. The conversation starts and finishes in the C-level suite, and it requires expert and provocative thinking that challenges the traditional IT point of view.
Selling professionals who want to crush their cloud numbers in 2014 will need to work on their solution-selling craft more than ever. It is exactly where the battle will be fought and won. "The Challenger Sale – Taking Control of the Customer Conversation" by Matthew Dixon is the best book I’ve read recently on the subject of solution selling.
There you have it: my top five picks for where you should get smart in 2014. Seventy-five percent of our cloud wins in 2013 came from those who invested time in attending our Cloud Services University workshops. Get smart on cloud; win big cloud deals. We’re here to help.
Andrew Pryfogle is senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Services & Complex Bids, for Intelisys. He joined Intelisys through the acquisition of Cloud Services Coalition, a master agency and integrator that he founded with the purpose of helping the channel address the growing demand for cloud services . A 24-year veteran of the telecommunications and IT industries, he has held senior sales leadership positions with carriers such as AT&T, MCI and WorldCom. He is a founding member of Cloud & Technology Transformation Alliance (CTTA) and served on the Channel Partners Advisory Board.