Our relationship with partners -- resellers, integrators, service providers, etc. -- is no exception.
While it's true there's always room for improvement, we've done an admirable job of building deep business relationships with hundreds of partners around the globe.
During this period of time, our focus has visibly shifted from "here's someone who can sell our stuff" to "here's someone we can partner with around a business opportunity".
I get involved in these discussions frequently: I always take some time to understand our partner's current business model, and then share some of the things things we're investing in to create more opportunity for them to serve their customers even better.
An increasing number of our EMC partners now appear ready to take on a big opportunity we at EMC have been working for a while: IT transformation.
But, just as every IT organization isn't ready for an IT transformation, not every EMC partner is ready to go do this.
What's Going On?
It can be a long discussion, but I basically boil it down for our partners like this:
- a sizable number of IT organizations have begun to transform their IT operational model to look more like an internal service provider.
We can explain why it's happening, and why IT transformation is inevitable for some. The pace appears to be increasing.
We've established a reasonable profile of what to look for. We know what steps they'll likely want to take along the way. Sure, every customer is different, but there are clear patterns you can learn from if you choose.
- and, as they do this, they'll be looking for something very different from their partners -- and vendors.
Sure, you can sell them great products with services wrapped around it. Sooner or later, they'll need modern technology in their transformed IT environment. Think virtualization, converged infrastructure, VSPEX, Vblocks and the like.
One way is to invest in helping your customers in their transformational journey by offering the consulting services they'll likely want.
They'll also want choices on consumption options: not everything will be a product sale, or everything an external IT service, or everything a consulting engagement, so there are some real implications on your partner offering portfolio.
- if you -- as an EMC partner -- want to pursue this opportunity, it's best to think of it as a new business model for you.
If you haven't invested in business-level consulting services (vs. implementation or project management), that's going to be a requirement. If you're an IT service provider, and can't offer your customers a traditional internal consumption option, that's going to be a requirement. And if you're mostly a product and services reseller/integrator, you're going to need some external IT service consumption options on your line card before long.
To be clear, it's not probably what you're really doing today. Only a very few of the partners I work with can check all the boxes.
But, for those that are equipped, these folks are doing quite well indeed: we're partnering with them closely on an ever-growing roster of IT transformation engagements in environments large and small. And, to be fair, not every one of our partners are candidates to invest in this sort of business model -- or may want to.
But it's an opportunity that's worth exploring to some ...
New Partner Capabilities Required
The aspects of the required partner business model are pretty easy to understand and explain. Implementing them may be more difficult, but there are many ways to get into the game without betting the farm.
For example, EMC has invested in standing up many of the required consulting and integration services required for these engagements -- giving our partners the ability to offer our capabilities while investing in their own.
Partnerships make sense here as well. Plenty of resell/solution/integration partners I meet recognizes the need to provide an external IT service capability, but don't have the business model to justify stand up one of their own. Well, we've got a nice club of compatible IT service providers around the globe who are always looking for a better way to market with the high-quality, enterprise-grade IT services they're offering.
On the other side of the equation, I work with some wonderful IT service providers who are recognizing that they've got a go-to-market challenge: selling enterprise-class IT services requires a high-touch model. They're envious of the close relationships our resell EMC partners have with customers, and they'd like to find a way to leverage that.
Chocolate, meet peanut butter.
New Partner Skills Required
We've had some good success in training our direct sales force some of the key skills required in pursuing IT transformational opportunities. One of the key skills is profiling: not everyone is changing at the same time, so how do you spot someone who's started to transform?
Since time is always our most precious asset, this one turns out to be very important indeed.
Now that you've found someone who fits the profile, what do you do? Who's the target, what's the message, how do you engage, what resources and assets are required, what are the most common sequential steps in an IT transformational customer engagement?
Again, we've answered many of those questions for ourselves here at EMC, and we can share what we've developed and learned along the way.
Especially gratifying is the work I've been doing with some of the bigger consulting and integration firms. They've got an amazing amount of intellectual assets, great customer relationships, proven capabiltiies, etc. -- they just seem to need a little help in organizing it all into a focused, repeatable engagement model.
Is This A Formal EMC Partner Program Around IT Transformation?
Well, no, not really. While it's true all the back-end ingredients are there (campaign assets, training, etc.) and are starting to be used -- we still have more work to do in assembling them into a formal business-oriented engagement model with our partners.
The biggest piece that's missing -- from my point of view -- is the individualized assessment: is this right for you, as our partner? What would be required? How do you start doing some of the new stuff without impacting your current model?
Simply put, we have some work to do around what I call a "business development engagement" -- a sober, frank and transparent business-focused discussion around an investment opportunity.
I'm doing more than a few of these myself, but it's still early days -- more programmatic resources and tools are required.
One day, I'd like to be able to approach my EMC partners on a repeatable basis around these emerging topics.
Here's an important industry trend that's shaping up: cloud, big data, trust, mobility, social, app factories, digital business models, etc.
Here's how EMC is planning to go after it.
Here's how we see the potential opportunity -- and challenges -- from your perspective. Here are some scenarios where we could work together to begin to explore it.
Does this work for you?
Because -- at the end of the day -- that's what great business partnerships are *really* about.