Digital is Transforming All Businesses, Including Companies that Provide and Resell the Solutions
In my industry, we talk a lot about digital transformations. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are beginning to recognize that a new approach to IT—a complete shift, really—is creating new opportunities to reset competitive advantage, stimulate sales growth, improve customer retention and increase employee productivity.
With all of those opportunities, the most logical next step for any company is a rethinking of the business model. Sales and marketing messages will need updating. Operations will undergo reviews and overhauls. Roles in the organization will be redefined.
Inevitably, everyone is impacted by digital transformations—including companies such as my own, which is providing the actual digital transformation solutions, as well as our channels partners, who are reselling our solutions to their own customers. At Riverbed’s recent global partner summit, I spoke to the audience about the changes that are impacting all of us, not just our mutual customers.
In this new digital age, the status quo for our partners who have traditionally resold hardware-based solutions is no longer good enough. Customers in this new world have a different view of the role technology contributes to business success. Companies like Riverbed have evolved their solutions offerings to reflect the new demands. Today, it’s no longer about hardware-based CAPEX expenditures but instead about cloud-based managed services built on consumption models that best fit the customer’s needs, be it by subscription, use basis or outcomes based models.
For our channel partners, the shift has also created another sub-trend that impacts their traditional sales strategies—the need to call on and address the needs of new decision makers. In the traditional world of selling tech, the IT leaders were the customers, the ones who understood the company’s technical needs and were getting spending approvals from the business and finance leaders. IT investments were viewed as simply the cost of doing business.
But as the technologies continued to evolve and advance—far faster than companies could keep up—there was a moment of inflection when business and finance leaders started questioning the value-add of new technologies and regular hardware upgrades. At some point the conversation shifted to, if we make this investment how will it create a competitive advantage, will it drive productivity and how can it drive top line growth?
That left our sales partners not only talking to a new type of customer but one who was less interested in technical details and more interested in outcomes, capabilities and business performance metrics that the technology would provide. The good news is that new digital technologies provide the ability to measure performance, visibility into specific data, analyze it and make changes to improve it.
Consider the example of a IT help desk that has invested in technology to enhance various operational processes, such as prioritizing service issues. People call the service desk when they have a problem that’s keeping them from accomplishing a task. More than 50% of the cost of service desk tickets is due to staff salary and benefits. The longer it takes to resolve customer issues, the greater the impact, including the potential loss of customers and reputation.
If the old process was fix and keep fixing similar issues as repeated help tickets come in, the technology will allow IT administrators to measure performance and quickly identify bottlenecks and issues—whether at the device, in the network, the application or a poorly designed user interface.
That sort of intelligence allows an IT service desk to make changes—or invest in specific technologies—that focus on the issue at-hand. The service desk is able to provide detailed analysis of the problem and its cause, allowing for escalation support to rapidly solve the problem. Through these efficiencies, companies can handle more transactions with fewer support desk staff, providing the potential to take on bigger or more accounts and drive a more profitable business.
Certainly, change can sometimes be hard to embrace but there are a lot of silver linings around today’s digital transformation efforts—beyond the business outcomes.
First, IT leaders may no longer be the sole decision makers—but they now have an important seat at the table with executives who realize that IT is less of an expense and more of a strategic business investment that is being monitored and evaluated by the IT leadership. IT becomes a critical business partner for any company.
Second, the digital tools that monitor security concerns, network congestion or outages free up IT professionals to focus on tasks that enhance business performance, such as new applications or analytics that better serve employees or customer’s experiences.
Finally, it gives our channel partners an opportunity to not only evolve their business models but to also identify new offerings and build additional revenue streams. This inflection point allows them to review their current strategies and expand their relevance, differentiate and provide more flexibility to our mutual customers.
Digital transformations won’t happen overnight. But it is happening with first mover companies looking to differentiate by leveraging technology. Companies are beginning to understand that this latest digital revolution will allow them to improve their own business health by creating new opportunities to compete, even leapfrog, to drive sales and increase productivity.
That’s true for everyone—retailers, medical industries, financial institutions, schools and more, including IT vendors like Riverbed and its partners.
Originally posted on Forbes.com.