Digital transformation peak: Where the channel goes from here - The EE

Digital transformation peak: Where the channel goes from here

Abel Smit of Tech Data

The technology industry has come to a precarious position. Although businesses today understand the importance of technology for achieving their objectives, they are also experiencing ‘digital transformation’ fatigue, says Abel Smit, sales director, data solutions & IoT at Tech Data.

Numerous organisations have grown tired of technology implementations that do not live up to the hype. In these times, businesses are more concerned with how to be more efficient, expand their growth and become more compliant. For those in the business of technology, that means the focus has to shift from technological capabilities to business outcomes.

Selling business value

Technology businesses need to understand how they can sell business value in order to open up new opportunities. To do this will require the adoption and development of new business models.

The Internet of Things (IoT) market clearly demonstrates the shift from technology to business value. When businesses assess their value to a customer, they will ultimately realise that their worth is not measured by the capabilities of the IoT device being sold, but from the data that the device collects and the insight that can be gleaned from it. 

For manufacturers, this will mean they have to instrument their offering. In order to increase the value, you can offer to your customers, you need to understand how your offering is being used. To collect this data, you are going to need to leverage IoT technology.

Once they have begun collecting data, businesses can implement analytics to develop insights that can increase the value derived from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) by letting users make better decisions. Whatever size they are, businesses will need to aggregate and unlock the data they have, while organising it so that it can be accessed and maintained in a safe and ethical manner.

The usage data can help resellers and system integrators uncover the challenges that their customers are facing and what services they’ll need to overcome them. Many benefits can come from the ongoing dialogue that takes place once you have a constant data exchange that some refer to as digital feedback loop.

Improvements can be made to solutions and long-lasting relationships can be built on the foundation of exceeding business expectations and adding value for the end customer. The continuous development also aids with securing new clients, as it helps to iron out pain points and helps with developing solutions for new markets.

Merge IT and business objectives

It’s not an easy feat for companies to merge IT and business objectives but doing so can lead to major success. Businesses should start by changing how they charge their clients, so it is done on an ongoing basis, mirroring the ongoing relationship they now have with them. This will create an annuity stream which in turn will vastly increase the value of the reseller business.

In addition to this, they’ll need to possess or have access to systems that manage their ongoing relationships with customers as well as have teams of people that are trained to assist customers on a regular basis. The sale of a solution is not the end of the proves, it is the start of an ongoing business relation with the end customer. The customer success function is the primary sales function of tomorrow.

There’s also difficulty in securing market expertise and the contacts needed to achieve success in vertically organised markets such as the process industry, manufacturing or retail. To gain entry into such markets require expertise that only a few in the IT environment will have.

Conversely, there are few in these markets who have the IT knowledge they need alongside their industry expertise to achieve their business objectives. As a result, there is an opportunity for businesses from previously unrelated markets to dovetail and create real value for their customers through newly developed solutions. Those that can cover both the information and operational technology spaces will have a bright future!

Distributors as solution aggregators

The upshot of this is that the role of distributors in the technology market is changing considerably, with the focus now being on solution aggregation. In doing so, distributors are helping to connect those with vertical specific expertise and technology expertise so that they can meet business challenges together and develop solutions for the future. As these new partnerships develop and grow, distribution needs to be there on hand to support with technical advice and management support so that solutions can be brought to market as quickly and effectively as possible.

Just because businesses have digital transformation fatigue, it does not mean that the pace at which they have to change is going to slow down. With an incredibly difficult year ahead, now more than ever it is crucial that those in the technology industry sell business value and meet business objectives.

As an industry in which the only constant is change, now is the time for those in technology to demonstrate the true value that they can create by helping their customers adapt to the new realities facing them. In doing so and by working together, we can help them become stronger and more resilient for the future.

The author is Abel Smit, sales director, Data Solutions & IoT at Tech Data.

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