The Third platform and channel sales

Grasping how third-platform technologies such as cloud, mobile computing, big data and social media are transforming the way IT channel companies do business can be the difference your reselling business needs to stay ahead of competition.

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The Third platform and channel sales ((ITP Images))
By  Manda Banda Published  September 17, 2014

No one can refute the disruptive nature of cloud computing, mobile computing, big data and social media. Everywhere you look in the region channel, IT trade media is covering how these technologies, which collectively is now referred to as the “third platform” – is transforming enterprise IT in the Middle East.

What you don’t hear much about if you are a reseller, solution provider, system builder, VAR or SIs is how these technologies are impacting IT channel businesses.
In my previous writings on this column, I have looked at the business opportunities afforded by cloud computing, mobility and big data.

This time around, I want to take a step back and look at how the third platform as a whole is transforming the way resellers are doing business in the Middle East.

In my many years of covering the channel there is one thing that I have come to understand in this industry and that of course is that if anything is constant, it is change. IT channel companies are, by their very nature, at the forefront of technological change. Their clients of different sizes and in various vertical sectors depend on them to deliver the latest and greatest technologies.

But there is a bigger change afoot as resellers, VARs, solution providers and SIs recognise the need to change how they deliver new technologies. This, partners are doing not just to continue meeting clients’ needs and demands, but also to stay viable in markets they serve.

In the cover feature for the August edition of the magazine, Mohammed Amin, VP at EMC warned the channel that unless resellers lead the big data conversation and develop capabilities in their businesses around this segment now, they risk being rendered irrelevant in the market.

Clearly, there is a demand [for help around big data], but the channel partners are not moving forward and trying to push the process through because they are not looking beyond the sale.

This dependence of just focusing on commodity sales when the market and businesses are looking for channel partners who can help them solve larger business problem is what has made many resellers businesses to struggle today.

Unless you’re a large VAR or SI that’s basically an extension of a manufacturer, there’s no way you’re going to be able to survive without recurring revenue.

The long-term lifeline for the Middle East IT channel will depend on cultivating a successful business that sells and delivers technology services on a recurring revenue basis.

With burgeoning trends such as cloud computing and mobility, combined with expanded customer choice for procuring technology, the need for channel partners to hasten their transition to a services-oriented business is far greater now that in the past.

Even within one of the fastest growing segments in the region like mobile computing, reselling hardware offers low margins. Those partners that have landed the most lucrative opportunities in this sector are focused on helping firms solve bigger challenges.

It’s a fact that the most lucrative facet of any new technology tends to be more complicated. What that means for resellers is that they will be required to invest before they can start reaping the dividends of their investments. What is true about these new areas is that’s where more companies that do not have technology expertise are going to struggle.

In the mobility space for example, that’s the integration, figuring out how these devices integrate in with the business’ networks and security management all present opportunities for channel partners in the region.

That said, what should you be doing? For starters, resellers need to push to the next realm, which is to say provoke thinking; make sure your customer understands that you can do the work to their satisfaction. Until channel providers make this behavioural change, they won’t satisfy the demand despite it being there.

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