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Can You Rely On Your Current Resellers For Today's Services?

Managed services, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and 'cloud computing' are gaining increasing attention in the press and among IT and business decision-makers because they promise to alleviate many of the day-to-day hassles of deploying and administering technology and applications.

While these new forms of remote and web-based services have demonstrated many tangible business benefits, they have also disrupted the traditional value-chain of the technology industry.

Traditionally, technology vendors relied on channel partners to extend their reach into market segments they couldn't address either by offering lower costs of sales or by delivering more customized solutions. Often the channel partner also took on the role of pre-sales consultant and on-site support provider.

This model worked well when customers needed help with the initial planning and design, as well as the installation, integration and ongoing maintenance of the hardware and software. And, customers needed plenty of help in all these areas because of the complexities and costs of traditional hardware and software.

A Different Set of Challenges
Today's SaaS solutions and cloud computing services were designed to eliminate, or at least substantially reduce, these challenges. They have been architected so that the vendor now operates the hardware and assumes responsibility for the deployment and ongoing availability of the software functionality. This approach fundamentally changes the relationship between the customer and vendor, and raises questions about the role of the channel partner.

However, while the burden for the success of the 'solution' has shifted from the customer to the vendor, THINKstrategies believes that there is still plenty of room for channel partners to play a role in this relationship. Once again the SaaS and cloud computing vendors cannot afford to help individual customers with adopting their solutions to meet their unique requirements. They also cannot afford to customize their solutions to address these requirements. Channel partners can help with these tasks, as well as helping their customers with change management and training.

However, those channel partners who are wedded to the past formula of hands-on software deployment and maintenance will be adversely affected by todays' SaaS and cloud computing movements because these new services substantially reduce these opportunities.

Adapting to the Change
Even the many channel companies who have tried to transition their businesses from traditional on-site support to remote managed services have found the shift difficult.

Rather than sell the value of their rapid response to system failures or software problems, channel partners must demonstrate their ability to keep customers' systems and software up and running with limited on-site presence via managed services. This requires a different set of service systems, skills and operating policies.

The Right Skills for the Task
For IT and business decision-makers within customer organizations, today's new service alternatives represent an important time to reevaluate their supplier relationships to ensure that your traditional service providers are adjusting to the new market opportunities and challenges.