When the risk of extinction is discussed in relation to the IT channel, traditional resellers carrying servers, PCs and printers tend to be the ones branded as dinosaurs. Some argue that those not adapting to up-and-coming tech – often cloud-based services – risk dying out. Vendors moving to cloud are keen to shine a light on their cloud partners, which are often held up as shining examples of how to succeed in today's cloudy world.
However, one Born in the Cloud partner, IA Cubed, has said that being a cloud-only partner is not without risks.
IA Cubed is a Scottish reseller set up five years ago. It focuses on Microsoft technology such as Yammer, SharePoint, Office 365 and CRM Online. Business development director Margaret Totten said that when her company was getting up and running in 2010, bigger, traditional resellers brushed off the firm as a passing fad, and failed to take its growth seriously. But five years on and IA Cubed has thrived, winning some big-name customers such as the Commonwealth Games, Marie Curie and Standard Life.
Totten said that innovation was at the core of the company when it was established, and it is essential that this remains in the future.
"We were not invested in the server environment because we were new," she said. "We didn't come from this mindset of 'I could have made so much money on a server' for this customer. We came to it from a very different perspective. But now there are more people invested in the cloud – including the people who five years ago were laughing us out the door, thinking we were a flash in the pan.
"[We have] to make sure we don't get stuck in the same trap, because that can be dangerous. We could have thought that Office 365 is where it's at; we have made our name there and we're not looking at the new stuff such as Power BI and Azure. We have to make sure we're adopting that the same way we adopted Office 365 a few years ago. Partners are now coming out of the woodwork focusing purely on Azure and building around that. If we didn't update our skills and sales message, we would become like those partners five years ago who did not embrace cloud.
"We would become the dinosaurs for sticking with Office 365."
"Cloud-first, mobile-first" has emerged as the mantra for Microsoft's chief executive Satya Nadella as the company continuously pursues its cloud strategy. In the recent past, pushing cloud tech sales was enough for the vendor, but now it is desperate for its channel to encourage the consumption of the technology too. The vendor has put its money where its mouth is and is giving its channel partners incentives to go down this path. As more partners are lured towards cloud, the unique selling points of Born in the Cloud partners may be diminished.
But Totten said first-mover advantage is something that can never be caught.
"Having moved to the cloud, we will always have something that will give us a competitive advantage – because we are small, we have the ability to pivot and change our business model to meet what the customer wants," she said.
"A lot of bigger companies don't have flexibility. Because we have first-mover advantage and we saw it before other companies did, we have case studies now which stack up a lot, even against the big names. You're always going to lose some [deals] to bigger partners because they've got the name, but it has made us work hard to build as strong a brand as we can for the size we are. We were quite aggressive with our sales and marketing in the beginning; we have a lot of customers to our name."
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