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How can the Asian channel capitalise on cloud?

How can the Asian channel capitalise on cloud?

Channel Asia Roundtable outlines partner opportunities

L-R: Andy Waroma (Cloud Comrade); Vijayan Haridas (Insight); Mark Johnston (Channel Asia); Melvin Lim (Datto); Sofiane Behraoui (SoftwareONE); Daniel Shaw (LogMeIn); Marion Ryan (SAP); Roger Siow (Syner-G Technologies); Daire O'Mochain (NTT Data); James Henderson (Channel AsIa) and Manu Khetan (Rolling Arrays Consulting)

L-R: Andy Waroma (Cloud Comrade); Vijayan Haridas (Insight); Mark Johnston (Channel Asia); Melvin Lim (Datto); Sofiane Behraoui (SoftwareONE); Daniel Shaw (LogMeIn); Marion Ryan (SAP); Roger Siow (Syner-G Technologies); Daire O'Mochain (NTT Data); James Henderson (Channel AsIa) and Manu Khetan (Rolling Arrays Consulting)

Credit: Channel Asia

With organisations across Southeast Asia now on board and now investing, cloud has moved past the hype and into the mainstream, creating new opportunities for the channel as a result.

Spanning public, private and hybrid, implementations will continue to accelerate as end-users seek to take advantage of increased levels of speed and scale.

But as cloud becomes default, a default cloud channel strategy still ceases to exist. In 2018, partners must re-evaluate business models and technology offerings, seeking new ways to add value in an ever-changing market.

“We’ve reached the stage in which conversations have moved away from ‘why cloud’ to focus more on how cloud can be deployment within an organisation,” observed Marion Ryan, vice president of SME ecosystems across Asia Pacific at SAP.

“Customers now want to know how they can maximise cloud and that represents a key shift in the market.”

In assessing the local and regional landscape, Ryan said businesses are currently motivated by two key triggers within the context of cloud, starting with business transformation.

“Customers are seeking business transformation and are using this concept to transform their technology stack,” Ryan explained. “This also impacts how they engage with partners and the resources that they will deploy inside the company.

Marion Ryan (SAP)Credit: Channel Asia
Marion Ryan (SAP)

“Also, customers are reaching hardware refresh cycles and are using this opportunity to make wider decisions about the technology they use. But whatever the trigger, customers today are starting conversations with the cloud - it’s top of mind for organisations today.”

Cloud - in whatever capacity or flavour - continues to dominate boardroom agendas, as businesses chase the common goals of cost reductions and greater efficiencies, backed up by an increased desire for innovation.

Irrespective of company size or sector, cloud is transforming business prospects throughout Asia, impacting customers but also back up the supply chain in the form of partners, distributors and vendors.

“We are currently going through our own cloud journey internally,” said Daniel Shaw, head of sales in Asia at LogMeIn. “For our business, it’s important that we don’t sit still because the market is changing rapidly.

“Our focus is centred around how we can become engaged long-term with the customer and partner so we can deliver on the potential of cloud technology.

“This is an area of the market that we are currently challenged in as we look to build out a deeper channel to service our growing base of customers on an ongoing basis.”

Likewise, Datto is also leveraging the cloud to trigger transformation both internally, and for the vendor’s growing base of managed service providers (MSPs) across Asia Pacific.

Daniel Shaw (LogMeIn)Credit: Channel Asia
Daniel Shaw (LogMeIn)

“Our solution is born in the cloud,” said Melvin Lim, territory channel sales manager at Datto. “We also provide back-up and disaster recovery offerings alongside a platform for MSPs to be able to manage the technologies and services they deliver to customers.

“But a challenge associated with managed services is having to be on-site to fix an issue, which is a regular occurrence for MSPs and traditional system integrators.

“In the context of Singapore, it could take a lot of travelling time through traffic to address these issues, which could be time better spent for the partner.

“Therefore, we believe it’s important to provide a solution in which you can support customers without having to leave the office. Automation is key in this scenario, providing MSPs with a way to manage customer problems without being on-site - this runs on a cloud platform.”

Furthermore, Lim also said partners are beginning to grasp the concept of changing consumption models, driven by as-a-service demand.

“There’s always going to be a difference in selling as a traditional system integrator, compared to selling a managed service,” he added. “Customers are asking for managed services because of cloud and asking to pay monthly or quarterly, rather than in one lump sum.

“Customers are no longer paying millions of dollars in one go, they are paying smaller chunks over a longer period. This is good for cash flow and partners are starting to understand the benefits of this shift in approach.”

Melvin Lim (Datto)Credit: Channel Asia
Melvin Lim (Datto)

Cloud creates new customers

Irrespective of industry, businesses are undergoing internal and external transformation fuelled by increased cloud adoption, creating new business processes and models in the process.

Yet as outlined via IDC research, another core change impacting the channel centres around the shift in technology spending from IT to the line of business (LOB).

According to findings, LOB decision makers will overtake technology spending by the IT department in 2019.

“We do not actually talk to the IT department like we used to talk to them before, based on what we have been experiencing here,” said Vijayan Haridas, head of cloud practice South Asia at Insight. “The decisions are not made at that level.

“They are actually made at a more senior level, what we call the business decision makers, especially in larger organisations. These business decision makers actually come from various business units.”

For Haridas, such a shift in buying behaviour has allowed Insight to engage with multiple stakeholders across the business, leveraging cloud technologies to tap into marketing and HR budgets.

“We talked with a marketing team and they wanted a digital solution capable of coping with high demand during peak hours, which could also scale back during normal operational hours,” Haridas explained.

“They did not want to know what was running at the back-end, the focus was on the service. The back-end capabilities are our call and we believe the cloud helps deliver rapid results.”

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