Want to Capitalize on the Cloud? 3 Actions to Take Today

by admin on August 9, 2011

A few months ago, I shared ideas with you on how to find the right partner to help you establish sales in cloud services. Now, I’d like to expand on the cloud opportunity by relating three specific actions you can take now to help your organization profit from the cloud computing revolution.

They include…

Action #1: Develop a common understanding of cloud across your organization.

Let’s face it: cloud computing is complex, and still evolving. Part of the complexity of cloud sales is that you’re typically not dealing with a single, tidy solution. Long-term success in cloud sales hinges upon confidently speaking to all of the private, hybrid and public cloud options available to help solve customer problems. To do this effectively, each member of your team must possess the same understanding of what the cloud is, as well as what the cloud can do.

In recent studies I’ve read, the need for employee training in selling cloud ranks among the top-five most reported cloud challenges. Another study I came upon indicated that only a few percent of enterprise IT shops today have enough experience to satisfy customers’ cloud computing needs. Clearly, if you want to sell cloud, training is a must!

Action #2: Engage with your customers to determine where cloud fits on their priority list (before someone else does).

At the heart of cloud computing demand today is the business need to do more with less. This quest for efficiency is common to organizations in all industries and goes hand-in-hand with many of their other goals, including reducing risk, optimizing service quality and increasing business agility. Cloud addresses all of these business challenges, making it a top IT investment priority for most organizations. But if your customers aren’t aware that you, as their “traditional” solution provider, can also help them solve business challenges through cloud technologies, they may be a ripe target for your competitors.

Now is the time to meet with your customers and learn about their goals. If cloud is on their mind, be prepared to discuss why you are the perfect advisor to help them reach their goals more cost-effectively through cloud solutions.

Action #3: Help your end customers get started on the path to cloud.

A growing number of CIOs rank cloud computing at the top of the list of technologies they are focusing on going forward. The reality is, however, that a wide gap still exists between where most enterprise IT shops are today and true cloud computing. You have a great opportunity to help close the cloud gap by offering your customers cloud workshops, or even cloud assessment services.

At Avnet, we work with our partners to set up billable consulting engagements with their end-user customers. These engagements provide a dynamic forum to identify and unify the end customer’s leadership around key cloud goals and determine next steps to achieving them.

For end customers ready to commit to the cloud, Avnet partners may recommend our Cloud Assessment Service. An assessment engagement lasts several weeks and provides the information needed for sound decision making in determining a go-forward strategy and migration path to cloud computing. Other companies provide cloud assessments too, but our vertical market focus and data center technology expertise makes Avnet an optimum cloud partner.

Vertical Market Impacts

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are all around us. For the most part, SaaS—the first signs of clouds in our future—got its start as horizontal solutions aimed at solving fairly broad and common needs. While the SaaS market continues to grow, the scope of these solutions is expanding to encompass more verticals. As if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, new cloud-based technologies are emerging every day. One of the newer cloud offerings you’ll want to keep an eye on is infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions. There’s already considerable interest in these solutions among IT leaders in the hospitality, healthcare and retail industries.

So remember: Solution providers who get in front of the cloud hype now and deliver impactful business solutions with their customers will remain in a leadership position for years to come.

Michael Houghton is VP of vertical market solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship. Read all of Houghton’s guest blogs here.

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