In a post-recession commercial and public sector world, where every purchase of any value has to pass across a C-level executive's desk for approval, explaining business value and talking strategically won’t be seen as value-add but an essential engagement enabler.
They know they are being asked to spend on IT, they just don’t know what real business value the investment is going to make today, tomorrow and in the future.
Until recently, few SIs or VARs found it necessary to build robust strategic engagement in a world where IT investments only had to pass a rudimentary return on investment (RoI) test, where RoI was measured over three, five or seven years, a period long enough for the business to have forgotten why they invested in the first place.
Now, with many business executives in the commercial world demanding RoI of 12 months or less, and the public sector needing to save now, not some time in the future, the ability of the channel to think, talk and act strategically will be the measure of future success.
The channel challenge now is that some in these uncertain times may lack the financial resources or luxury of time to build these skills quickly, if at all.
In 2011, unless SIs and VARs build strategic partnerships with organisations that can help them broker a strategic relationship with their customers and who can turn their technology proposition into real business value, they may be unable to justify their position in the IT eco-system.
Major vendors such as IBM, HP and Cisco have or are building their own strategic consulting divisions because they recognise that spend on technology has to be linked to business value and measurable strategic value in the future.
The channel’s challenge for 2011 is turning business that pre-crash was considered run-rate into projects that will be judged not on the value contained in a data sheet, but on measurable and considered business RoI.
Eric Kihlstrom is an associate at SAMI Consulting
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