Gartner’s Bova Challenges Partners to Move Outside Comfort Zone

CHANNEL PARTNERS Theres a future new powerful decision maker when it comes to technology: the chief marketing officer.

That was one just one of the salient messages Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova hammered home Tuesday during the keynote address at the 2012 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

If the chief marketing officer becomes your client of the future what is going to be the technology you actually are going to sell to them,” asked Bova, vice president of Gartner Research, in the context of channel partners expanding their offerings into cloud services.

For example, Bova pointed out, CMOs are beginning to get involved with mobile for such purposes as mobile advertising. Gartner forecasts that CMOs will carry a larger budget than CIOs by 2015. Readers may disagree with that prediction; nonetheless, consider the bigger picture.

The point is they now are a new buying center,” she said of CMOs.

In a new age of cloud computing, Bova raised concerns that some channel partners will fail to successfully migrate to a new business model because of a lack of skills.

She distinguished digital natives” from digital immigrants.” The former have grown up with such technology as cell phones and laptops and possess a different skill set than immigrants”.

The way you compete with a native is very different than how you compete with an immigrant,” Bova said.

Bova challenged the audience to continue to adapt since she said adoption of cloud services will not occur unless you guys embrace it.”

Bova also implied channel partners should think about the customer in a different way by asking a fundamental question: What is the market demanding from me versus what products am I selling?”

The analyst also emphasized the importance of channel partners distinguishing themselves and potentially moving outside their comfort zone by expanding into such areas as intellectual property and software development.

Developing intellectual property and having software development capabilities is the key to the kingdom,” she said.

In the context of mergers and acquisitions, Bova asked channel partners to consider whether its short-sighted for them to buy companies with similar assets and capabilities. She recommended examining the advantages of combining with a company that possesses a different skill set such as intellectual property or software development. This equips a sales partner with distinctive capabilities and potentially makes the company less reliant on its telecom suppliers and the prices and margins they are dictating.

Bova also underscored that cloud services and the sales process is less about technology and more about responding to a customers specific need. A customer often needs technology for a specific reason such as to grow its business or innovate faster than its competition. Identify the client’s specific need: That’s been a recurring theme during the conference thus far.

I am not having a conversation with you about technology,” she said.

The analyst also tempered expectations that cloud offerings are the future evermore.

Cloud is not the end game,” Bova said. Cloud is the next step to whatever is going to come five years from now.”

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