The services up-sell

The services business can provide lucrative margins for resellers, and many vendors are pushing their channel to up-skill to deliver services on their behalf, writes Piers Ford

Tags: Blue Coat Systems IncorporatedBrocade Communications Systems IncorporationCisco Systems IncorporatedHPJuniper Networks Incorporated
  • E-Mail
The services up-sell Aiham Al -Akhras, Fujitsu Technology Solutions
More pics ›
By  Piers Ford Published  April 20, 2011

The services business can provide lucrative margins for resellers, and many vendors are pushing their channel to up-skill to deliver services on their behalf, writes Piers Ford

While the big names remain largely defined by their pedigree as product producers and technology developers, most of them are hitching a growing range of services – stretching way beyond traditional maintenance and support – to the strength of their brands. And they’re looking to the channel to deliver an increasingly sophisticated service portfolio to their customers.

“This model is becoming more than ever the route to market for the majority of system integrators and even multinationals,” says Taj El Khayat, regional director – channels and commercial sector MEA at Juniper Networks.

“Professional and support services are becoming the key driver of revenue and customer maintenance, as well as customer acquisition. We see this model solidifying in the Middle East. We believed in supporting our channel to leverage services and service capabilities as a differentiator – whether in the distribution channel or value-added reselling.

“In the Middle East, customers are becoming more demanding, looking for cost effective solutions and highly available services,” he says. “We’re committed to creating a channel ecosystem focused on value added services, enabling faster time to market, finance programs and efficient logistics to meet customer needs.”

It’s a similar story at HP Middle East, where ESSN channel manager Karam Jabi says the company’s strategy is to be as close to the customer as possible. “We have HP Services offices in most of the countries and where we don’t have one, we work with our logistics partners to ensure the availability of any services-related material and expertise in the countries,” he explains.

“We bank heavily on our certified channel partners to provide these services in agreement and with support from the HP worldwide service teams. The customers often prefer to deal with the HP partners because they trust the quality and passion with which HP and its partner community service their clients.”

A snapshot of the scope of vendor services reveals the potential depth of the added value – and the challenge for partners to perform at the expected levels in areas for which, traditionally, they have been best known for delivering boxes and packages.

Planning, design and implementation, infrastructure maintenance, systems integration, migration, management and monitoring are the requirements of the day, promising attractive margin prospects in a world of rapid product commoditisation.

Many vendors now scale their service partnerships accordingly. Cisco, for example, divides its services portfolio into two main areas: support and maintenance, and advanced professional services.

Nadim Khoury, director of services Cisco UAE, says the support and maintenance programme allows partners to brand their own services with Cisco in the background providing support on a customer-by-customer basis, including access to online tools and local depots that allow RMAs to be handled in a coupe of hours.

“Our objective is to empower the partner to deliver a differentiated service and leverage the quality of Cisco’s support through our gold and silver partners. We have a comprehensive metric programme in place, renewed monthly, to monitor the number of RMAs, customer satisfaction and renewal rates,” Khoury says.

At the professional services end of the portfolio, Cisco partners with the systems integrator to deliver everything from low level design services and testing to implementation – either as simple modules or as projects requiring comprehensive multi-level engagement with the customer.

“The end customer is looking beyond the project deployment and CAPEX spend to day two operation,” says Khoury. “Priorities are shifting with the financial environment in the region. Customers want to know how to get the most from their investments rather than just embark on new building projects. So they want assurance about the quality of the project delivery, the quality of the support they’ll receive, and the longevity of that support for their business.”

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code