Cloud Brokers, Peanut Butter Puffs and the New Customer

Roger BlohmBy Roger Blohm

Recently, I was lucky enough to visit Wisconsin. The place wins me over every time — winter makes it less fun, but it’s still great. I enjoyed a Brewers game with some potential future partners from Corvisa, which was recently voted one of the coolest places to work by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Anyway, we were having dinner before the game, and these guys told me about the Barrie Burger. It’s a hamburger topped with peanut butter and bacon (since I can’t stand bacon, I had to pull it) that apparently is a Wisconsin rite of passage. Funny, in dozens of trips to Wisconsin I have never heard that, but I’m always up for new things.

So how was it? It tastes like it sounds, a hamburger with peanut butter. Which bought up the topic of Amazon Prime Pantry and the subscription to Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs that has transformed the world for my son and me. As we were talking, a younger guy in our group who hadn’t heard of Pantry said, “You’ve changed my entire approach to shopping, my entire mindset.” He’s a Millennial from Chicago who sold his car and uses mass transit and Uber. He already had a produce delivery service, and now Amazon Pantry will take care of the rest.

Think of the power of this change. My mother, to this day, makes a trip to the store Saturday afternoon to buy food for the weekly family Sunday dinner. She only buys enough for her and my father and whoever will be eating that week. Think about the change — this Millennial imagines a day when he will never go to the grocery store. My mom can’t imagine doing it any other way.

The way your customers buy technology has changed, too. They’re spending more and more time doing research. They are knowledgeable. They live in a world of cloud and automation. Privacy is a concern, but not too much so. This millennial is OK with cloud providers Amazon, Uber and the produce service knowing exactly what he eats and where he goes. Convenience is king, and soon we will all be connected all the time everywhere.

Enter the cloud broker. Let’s define that, shall we?

The term “cloud broker” is becoming overused, applied to anyone who pushes a hosted PBX or data-center storage solution. This is not how I define cloud broker.

A cloud broker architects solutions to drive a specific business result (like never needing to visit a store). A cloud broker understands the entire life cycle of technology and builds a plan for a customer that addresses that entire life cycle. A cloud broker owns the experience and relationships with all the vendors necessary to make this happen.

Cloud brokers demand transparency from the companies they represent. They require a pre-assessment of the customer’s environment before they implement technologies. Not because an assessment is a revenue stream, but because they will own the entire life cycle of the technology, and it’s the only way they can predict success.

A cloud broker monitors the entire solution because they take responsibility for the ongoing performance of technology. They demand technology partners focus on the end-user experience and the business result because customers are buying a result, not a piece of hardware or software.

A cloud broker has an update and refresh plan to ensure the life cycle of the technology is properly managed. They measure usage and ROI because they manage the adoption and success of the project, not merely the uptime of the technology itself. Unused technology that runs perfectly is more expensive than poorly performing technology used when available. A cloud broker owns the reporting functions and reinforces the good and bad experiences of their customers.

How do you get there? First, own the billing relationship. That means you will be the primary contact for the end-user customer and will provide a billable service beyond whatever bandwidth or commissions you might receive from suppliers and carriers.

This will be more difficult than traditional consulting, but new buyers demand it. With the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon making storage and computing power as readily available as a food delivery or ride on demand, there will be more and more suppliers who will have incredibly rich solutions for verticals and markets.

Cloud brokers need to figure out these markets and work to find the best fits within technology companies. The good news is when this happens, and the effort is made, your work will be more lucrative than ever before.

Transparent, trusted solutions are more valuable. The cloud brokers who provide them will be part of the inner circle — a critical component for the new buyer. Doesn’t own a car. Never grocery shops. But understands the consumption of cloud and the benefit of leveraging the potential of every system, capacity and dollar of a very connected world.

Roger Blohm is the president and CEO of LVM Inc., owner of VXSuite, and has been instrumental in the impressive growth of the product since its purchase in early 2009. Through Roger’s vision, the once single-product VXTracker has grown into a multi-module suite of products named VXSuite. VXSWAT, VXDash, VXMobile, VXRecord and VXPulse have added to the depth of available through VXTracker to offer complete analytic reporting in VXSuite. Follow him at @rogerblohm.

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