When it comes to 2017 channel predictions, RingCentral‘s vice president of channel sales, Zane Long, has offered some thoughts when it comes to the ongoing move to the cloud:
- The Bubble-Up Effect: Change demand for UCaaS is coming from customers, which is creating a bubble-up effect in the channel. Organizations are initiating conversations with their trusted IT advisors (channel partners) about moving not just core data-driven applications, but also their business communications systems to the cloud. Increasingly, I hear customers say that going forward they will be “cloud-first” and “cloud-only” when it comes to all things IT. In 2017, we’ll begin to see an increase in this customer-to-partner demand behavior, which will ultimately drive new channel business models.
- The Proof is in the Platform: Today’s business cloud ecosystem is successful because of the various business application integrations that make greater work productivity possible. But this is still a nascent concept in channel sales. As this trend continues to unfold and enterprises adopt interoperable platforms, channel partners will realize that there is more to sell beyond the software. An integrated business needs integrated solutions, and only those vendors that offer up an open platform will win the business.
- The End of Hybrid IT Models: The channel model of selling hybrid traditional on-premise hardware with cloud-based infrastructure and capabilities is coming to a halt. The value proposition for cloud is too great, and in particular, for cloud communications. According to a recent NoJitter report, more than half of companies surveyed said they currently use or will be using the cloud for their unified communications needs in the next 12 months. Over the course of next year, we will see a major shift in the way channel executives model their business, both from a sales and services perspective. We’ll see the channel redefine the model for technology services – blending both conventional and emerging IT approaches – to achieve long-term success, and less tightrope walking / more cloud conversion among mid and large-sized enterprises.
- Enablement is King: Partners need the right sales support and enablement in order to be successful. It isn’t enough to have just an amazing product or the richest commissions, because if partners are not fully enabled to really market it, they will not position your product first. The cloud communications marketplace is crowded and the demand for these competing solutions is evident (as noted in my earlier predictions). Vendors need to “think partner enablement first,” making it easy to transact to keep their partners transacting and gaining market share for their solutions.