Digital Transformation has become a strategic imperative for most CEOs , with those at the vanguard adopting technology to solve existing business problems in new ways. This presents partners with an opportunity to sell new services and solutions to non-traditional buyers, with the prospect of being able to create annuity revenue streams.
However, to achieve this, partners will need to evolve as the market expands to include a new wave of entrants, often professional services-led, looking to help customers overcome pain points, without simply pushing commodity technology solutions. Partners that invest in developing their own vertical and pre-sales capabilities will not only become more relevant to customers, they will be better positioned to compete against this new breed of partner.
However, it is not merely about developing a consulting capability. Customers are looking for digital solutions that help them drive greater efficiency in their business, through the automation or improvement of often broken processes.
At face value, this would appear to be ‘easier said than done’ if you are a partner that has historically received most of your revenue from the successful delivery of project services.
Microsoft Australia partners that have recognised that insight is the core ingredient to identifying and/or building repeatable IP and solutions. At the heart of this is identifying ‘something that doesn’t work’ within a given customer or number of customers that you have worked with that often would be equally applicable to other customers within the same or adjacent industries.
Armed with this insight, there are different ways to approach the development of a ‘solution’.
- To build technical IP on top of an existing cloud platform and this would normally involve having in-house developers, an example in this area is VDocs – a Readify solution to automate document verification for the Legal industry. However, if you are a partner that does not have in-house capability, this is potentially the hardest path but also could give you the highest degree of differentiation as you would have both the insight about the customer pain point (that other partners may not know about) and a unique offering that helps the customer alleviate an acknowledged pain point.
- To bring together existing technologies like Sitecore on Azure, Yammer and Dynamics365 to create a tenant engagement platform from Veritec and package them into a single ‘solution’ that enables a similar outcome as having built new IP from the ground up. Again, the key is to identify what an outcome a customer is looking to achieve before the development of a solution.
- Perhaps the quickest way is to productise your service based on your understanding of the customer pain point, whereby your understanding of the issue at hand is, in effect, the IP that you are bringing to the table. This would normally be predicated on having identified very specific industry pain points that would not be broad horizontal plays. In this space, Dealer Insights – an Agile BI Power BI-based solution targeted at manufacturers and other customers that have difficulty gaining insight into their dealer networks. This may be simply a ‘marketing veneer’ but it demonstrates a partner’s relevance to a given customer type or industry because you have identified a given paint point and understood how you can help the customer overcome this.
Fortune will favour the bold and the successful embrace of digital transformation-related solutions by partners will depend on an appetite for risk and an understanding of how to rapidly adapt business models to harness market opportunities.
Whilst digital transformation is still in its relative infancy, Partners that create repeatable IP and corresponding vertical expertise will significantly increase their ability to participate in the digital transformation conversation to a far wider and more varied stakeholder base within their customer set.
What is clear is that we are already seeing amazing examples of partners productising IP that are gaining considerable customer cut through when marketed and sold effectively. These are often partners that have no history of selling vertical solutions, but those that have taken the time to carefully examine past deals and gained an understanding of what a given customer is really trying to achieve above and beyond simply purchasing technology.