(Pictured above: AppDirect’s Dan Saks (left) with Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ T.C. Doyle at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, April 19.)
In the early days of AppDirect, a platform for selling cloud apps, founder and co-CEO Dan Saks steeled himself for what he thought would be a critical moment. One of his first customers wanted to put its software suite on AppDirect, and Saks and his team spent nearly a year preparing for the big launch.
But 72 hours before the launch, not all the apps were on the platform. AppDirect jumped into high gear to get everything ready. Hours passed. Saks says his team’s hard work paid off; they had made the deadline. Excitedly, he pressed the launch button — and crickets. No one showed up.
Saks learned a valuable lesson that day about what channel partners can bring to the table.
“Businesses won’t just buy technology from a website; they buy technology from people they trust,” Saks told attendees at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas last week. “The biggest thing we realized is, how do we build the tools and technologies to enable you – the channel of resellers – to best help your customer through this shift to digital transformation?”
Companies everywhere brace for the swirling storm of digital transformation bearing down on them, which will no doubt be rife with new software-as-a-service (SaaS) purchases. They’re expected to make a dramatic metamorphosis to their business in order to avoid disruption and compete in the digital economy.
This change is scary, and they need a trusted adviser to help them.
“The channel is more relevant than ever,” Saks says, recalling his lesson from the launch. “Businesses still need someone to tell them not only what they need to do, but how to implement it.”
For Saks, the SaaS business model lies at the heart of digital transformation. It has changed how companies operate: Companies don’t sell products anymore; rather, they sell solutions and digital services. Even traditional services such as telecom, voice over IP, fixed line and broadband are being sold digitally and in a recurring way.
Channel partners, too, need to show they understand digital transformation by selling solutions — that is, consolidated multiple services.
“We need to take a unified front on the value that we’re providing to the customer,” Saks says. “Mixed messages come when people lead with products without talking about the value that a solution brings.”
Digital transformation is also about knowing how data has changed how companies look at technology and solutions providers. Saks says it’s no longer about putting information into a technology tool to get value; rather, the technology tool uses data to be proactive.
Saks cites changes in how people buy music as an example of how people view technology. In the not-too-distant past, he says, people used technology to acquire music that they already knew they wanted. With Spotify, though, it became all about discovery.
“Now people are used to listening and finding new music all the time,” Saks says. “Digital tells me what to do.”
This kind of cultural rethinking in the digital economy should give channel partners confidence. Much like music lovers, business executives also want technology solution providers to tell them how to digitally transform their companies.
“Each and every one of you can be a digital hero by thinking about how you can transform either your company or your customer,” Saks says. “Being a digital hero doesn’t just start by understanding the products and technologies you can bring to market; it also starts with thinking differently about the way business operates.”