2018 and the channel: Intermedia executives predict what’s in store
2017 was a big year for the channel, no doubt. More SMBs have adopted the cloud, and the conversation has changed. With the benefits of cloud-based services becoming undeniable, more MSPs than ever have made these solutions part of their portfolios. However, it also means that business differentiators are that much more critical.
I sat down with a few of our executives to get their take on what 2018 will bring for the channel, and they had some pretty interesting perspectives:
What will be the biggest opportunity for the channel this year?
Mike Gold, CEO: The future of work is already here – every day, people are working from their mobile devices in their homes, in transit, and in other cities. To keep up, businesses need applications that are secure, provide reliable backup, and are easy to use. This creates a more productive and efficient workforce. But many SMBs aren’t there yet and still operate with older, seemingly simpler, ways of doing things. Partners have a real opportunity to show SMBs how collaboration tools like chat/video conferencing, file sharing, and real-time backup can drive productivity and flexibility.
Mark Sher, VP, Product and Marketing, Cloud Voice: I completely agree, Mike. The opportunity for partners offering UCaaS solutions is significant. It not only diversifies their portfolio of services but also enables their customers with remote employees to collaborate and make decisions faster.
What are partners looking for to be successful?
Mark: A partner’s number one priority will continue to be profitability. As more customers demand cloud-based services, partners will have to fine-tune their knowledge of what their customers need and master the customer acquisition lifecycle, all while achieving a successful business transformation.
Mike: Differentiated services are critical to achieving this profitability. To remain competitive, partners need a business approach that allows them to be the brand, face, and solution provider for their customers. Partners should expect to take greater ownership of their own brands if they want to succeed, and grow profitably, long term.
What advice do you have for partners already selling in the cloud?
Eric Martorano, CRO: 2018 will be the year of vertical specialization. When margins begin to shrink, partners need to reevaluate their offerings and determine how they best add value. One opportunity to do so in 2018 is by refining their knowledge in a particular vertical (healthcare, legal services, finance, etc.), specializing their services to fit their customer’s business needs. Becoming a subject matter expert on vertical markets will substantially help partners to stand out and demonstrate value in the increasingly crowded cloud solution provider space.
If channel partners do one thing in 2018, what should it be?
Eric: Sell the experience, not the product. In this era of cloud, just selling a product won’t cut it. Customers want to know that partners understand their industry and where they’re headed as a business. Partners should work backward from the desired outcome to the challenge to paint a full picture for their customers.
Mike: Exactly, Eric. The products or solutions that businesses think they want aren’t always what they actually need. Instead of serving as an order taker that fulfills every request, partners need to understand the problem that customers are trying to solve and deliver solutions that meet that need. Partners who are trusted advisors, not just order takers, will win in 2018.