May you live in interesting times - the words of Professor Mohan Sawhney, when addressing the channel some 12 months ago.
An English translation of a traditional Chinese curse - as the saying goes - the term interesting in fact means dangerous and turbulent, implying a period of disorder and conflict within the channel.
Fast forward to 2018 and such a statement continues to be true, as a new pool of customers gain purchasing powers over new technologies, procuring solutions in new ways through new types of partners.
It’s a recalibration of the channel, instigated by end-users from the bottom up, racing back up the supply chain to shake the industry to its core.
Perhaps one could argue that the market has forever been in a state of flux, yet in 2018, there’s never been so many balls up in the air.
Never has the channel had to contend with so many moving parts simultaneously, as digital redefines the role of buyers, providers, distributors and manufacturers of technology.
“Today, every company is a software company,” observed Gerald Leo, director of small, mid-market and corporate customers at Microsoft Singapore.
“Organisations need to start thinking and operating like a digital business in order to ensure relevancy in today’s digital-first economy.
“And as businesses embark of their digital transformation journeys, partners need to keep up with the pace of transformation in order to maximise opportunities to address strategic business imperatives.”
With the barrier of entry lowered due to the proliferation of cloud computing, such change has triggered transformation across the partner ecosystem as a result.
In short, Leo said the playing field is now levelled, meaning that it’s “no surprise” to see more born-in-the cloud partners, as well as non-traditional players such as consultancies, developers, and even customers-turned-partners arise.
“The future channel will see partners becoming co-collaborators with customers to maximise opportunities enabled by cloud,” Leo added. “Today, Microsoft is assisting our partners by providing the essential blueprints and tools to develop, analyse, manage and secure apps hosted on our platform.
“More importantly, we are helping partners to build an effective practice that is built to last, while concurrently helping to increase their profitability.”
The change comes as technology buyers step out from behind the CIO to purchase nimble, specialised and pluggable solutions, encouraging partner collaboration while testing time-honoured selling techniques.
Specific to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the future channel will continue to be “customer-obsessed”, centring around the notion of end-user innovation.
“A guiding principle for everyone working in and with AWS is to always keep the customer at the forefront of our thinking,” Amazon Web Services managing director of ASEAN, Nick Walton, said. “As the current channel evolves to include the provision of consulting and software services beyond traditional products, meeting customers’ needs will remain a priority.
“Our partners will need to understand and help customers move to the AWS Cloud, as well as help them use AWS in more efficient ways.”
For many years, Walton said the vendor’s growing base of customers across Asia Pacific have chosen to build or migrate their businesses on AWS for multiple reasons.
Specifically, a company’s decision to align with AWS has been due to the infrastructure build around regions and availability zones (AZs), which offers a more highly available, fault tolerant and scalable option.
“Today, customers are no longer thinking about whether they should move to the cloud, but rather how quickly,” Walton added. “Customers are identifying the most appropriate path to take to retire technical debt and expand their revenue with the various digital services.
“Partners are going to need to provide more critical assessment, migration consult and managed services options to effectively service customers, who now have increased awareness and expectations about the benefits of moving to the cloud.
“We are already starting to see more of our independent software vendors (ISV) community provide new digital services to our customers and a richer set of skills such as offering multi-tenancy architecture and cyber security expertise.”
In assessing the changing ecosystem regionally, Google Cloud continues to turn channel aspirations into market reality.
The vendor has outlined a framework in which cloud can be delivered through the channel, with partners front and centre of enterprise ambitions.
Spanning ISVs; system integrators (SIs); born-in-the-cloud players; developers; consultancy firms; managed service providers (MSPs); global system integrators (GSIs) and telecommunications firms, the Google Cloud ecosystem is as varied as it is deep, housing a contrasting but complementary collection of partners.
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