Today, a Google Cloud partner is specialised, collaborative, a developer of applications and a builder of code. But crucially, on occasions, cut from a different cloth.
“We have recognised that we require a different type of partner to take us into the future than what we have had in the past,” Google Cloud head of cloud partners and alliances Asia Pacific and Japan, Ash Willis, said.
“If you look at some of the channel partners we’re bringing on board into our ecosystem, that really helps demonstrate this approach.
“We’re working hard to on-board those partners and they are also recognising that we now have enterprise credibility. Customers are now asking for Google Cloud solutions which is driving a huge amount of conversations.”
With career expertise spanning AWS, VMware, Hewlett Packard and Citrix, Willis has observed a changing partner ecosystem, an ecosystem that continues to evolve at a rapid rate.
“Not long ago, GSIs were that ones that carried out the big deals, SI covered the medium deals and telcos had a role to play also,” he added. “But I think we’re starting to see that ecosystem change now.
“We’re seeing some relatively small SIs that have deep technical capabilities engage with some incredibly large customers.”
For Clarence Barboza - director of channel partner organisation at Cisco - there is a “definite evolution” of the partner ecosystem, with such an evolution set to continue as customer needs evolve.
“As customers IT adoption and understanding becomes increasingly mature, they’ll begin turn to technology to help them achieve specific business outcomes,” Barboza explained.
“For example, we had an Australian-based ISV join forces with a long standing reseller to utilise Cisco Meraki’s wi-fi access points paired with the ISV’s social sign-on and customer intelligence.
“This combination of different technology providers joining forces to provide a valuable business outcome for a customer to improve their overall customer experience highlights just some of the changes that we’re beginning to see in the future partner ecosystem.”
When assessing the end-user landscape, Barboza has one simple observation - “the way customers are purchasing technology is evolving”.
“It's no longer just about buying a specific product, but rather about the value that particular product adds to the business or how it meets a business objective,” he added.
“This evolution of the customer requires the channel to be the link between the line of business and IT, in more of an advisory capacity.”
Meanwhile, market demands are forcing customers to transform or lose the ability to compete, according to Tiang Hin Ang, general manager of commercial channels South Asia at Dell EMC.
“As the scale of complexity gets wider, the question is no longer about whether to transform, but what is the right transformation journey?” Ang asked. “Customers are turning to emerging technologies to accelerate this process, but there are big challenges along the way.
“The future channel will need to evolve to help customers cope with these challenges.”
For Ang, this will be partly defined by investments in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, in addition to multi-cloud environments and software-defined solutions.
“Due to the pace of change and complexity, collaboration between providers will have to become more common in the future partner ecosystem to deliver on solutions to meet customer’s complex needs,” Ang explained.
“This environment also means that future partners will have to put a lot more emphasis on training and enablement in order to succeed.”
Despite a strong majority of business leaders (80 per cent) in Asia Pacific and Japan - according to Dell EMC commissioned Realise 2030 research - expecting that humans and machines will work as integrated teams within five years, many (just over 60 per cent) are struggling to keep up with the pace of change.
Two thirds are being held back by a poor digital vision and strategy, and struggling with a skills gap and a lack of employee buy-in - there is also little certainty over whether this change will free-up time or bring about more job satisfaction.
“The ambiguity over what the future holds makes it hard for leaders to plan for it,” Ang said.
“Partners are no longer looked upon to just sell products, but have to support in establishing what that vision for the future would be – the channel is moving towards more solutions-oriented selling and really helping customers transform their entire businesses.
“Successful partners are those who are able to sell the end-to-end transformation solution and help customers deliver business outcomes.”
This Channel Asia event was sponsored by Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell EMC, Google Cloud and Microsoft