Midmarket CIOs must understand the mindset of their tech suppliers to achieve outstanding results.
Besides selling more IT solutions, what is on the mind of your primary tech suppliers these days?
That is a question every senior IT leader and CIO should be asking themselves to help solidify the relationship with their partners. These partners can come in the form of solution providers who sell a wide range of IT products and services, or specialty organizations that focus on security or app development, or staff-augmentation companies, among others.
We recently held a gathering of these partners along with the industry’s largest tech vendors—such as HPE—where both sides came together to discuss the most pressing issues of the day. The conversations at our XChange March conference revolved around a wide range of issues CIOs are not typically privy to, but important to understand what motivates their partners.
What follows are some observations from the conference that should help every CIO and senior IT leader understand the mindset of today’s IT solution provider.
- The plain truth is that every IT integrator is looking for ways to grow their business, mostly by offering more advanced services and products. They want to go higher on the so-called value stack. Selling commodities is something they continue to shift away from in the quest for higher margins and profitability. This is probably very much like your organization, which is looking to expand market share or acquire new customers. But growth is on the minds of your partners.
- Public cloud is big focus for IT solution providers who are primarily partnering with AWS or Microsoft Azure, with Google’s cloud offering a distant third. The Channel Company CEO Bob Skelley unveiled new research at the event that shows public cloud sales through partners accelerating significantly over the next few years. There are some partners who have multi-cloud practices, but many have formed strategic alliances around one public cloud platform to date. This means partners can now help midmarket IT or business leaders manage public cloud workloads, quickly launch pilots or select apps from public cloud marketplaces.
- Solution providers are as focused on IT security as their customers. A top priority for many organizations in the channel is beefing up their security practices. Solution providers like Atrion Communications and Vology have hired highly accomplished security leaders to set internal security strategies along with the best way to serve customers. Solution providers are also looking to partner with specialized peers to fulfill the security needs of their customers.
- CIOs work with vendors such as HPE and IT solution providers who are either strong regional players or have a national presence. From a customer perspective, the experience with each can vary, despite the two sides working closely on go-to-market strategies. CIOs need to understand the dynamics behind the supplier-partner perspective. Rob Schaeffer, who manages HPE’s channel sales, put it perfectly in an Xchange keynote when he said, “What an OEM does for a living and a partner does for a living are two different things.” During Schaeffer’s career, he has worked on both sides so he understands well that vendors may be great innovators, but their solution provider partners are the ones who must make those innovations work for the customer. Understanding the dynamic between vendor and supplier can help CIOs get the most from those partnerships.
- Just like you, executives of solution provider organizations are trying to improve their leadership skills. One of the highest-rated speakers at the event was motivational speaker and author Kevin Brown. Brown helped audience members understand how to motivate their teams by recognizing individuals who engage deeply with customers. One attendee said Brown’s message resonated because he learned new techniques to motivate employees by identifying outstanding performers who go the extra mile. He also discovered ways to raise customer satisfaction—an important differentiator in today’s competitive market.
For midmarket CIOs under enormous pressure to justify IT investments with strong ROI metrics, understanding what motivates their tech suppliers could mean the difference between success and failure.
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