The role of the IT channel has always been one of a negotiator, a mediator, if you like, translating technical offerings into something that businesses can understand and, in turn, buy. This role should not be underestimated.
Many vendors struggle to explain in plain English how their offering will benefit end users.
They rely on their partners to do that for them.
The trouble is that many resellers have got caught up with technical explanations and industry buzzwords and are using this language to try to explain the business benefits of an IT offering, which just does not work. Many end users are becoming confused and frustrated and in some cases buying IT that does not support their business needs.
But the tide is turning. There is a backlash from end users. This has been caused by the rise of IT consumerisation. The advent of affordable, consumer-friendly IT means that everyone, not just those who work in IT, now understands technology and as a result demands more from their resellers.
Under the strain of this new environment, the channel community must be cautious to avoid focusing too heavily on technical specifications. Instead, an effort must be made to highlight the long-term strategic benefits behind such offerings.
It may seem an obvious point, but the adage "sell the hole, not the drill" is as applicable today as ever, particularly in the context of IT.
As a specialist Oracle partner it becomes all too easy to get wrapped up in the technical language of content and information management, especially when working so closely with a global vendor. To truly succeed at this role we have had to ditch the tech talk and instead turn our efforts towards speaking the language of business.
This tentative relationship between business and IT is going nowhere fast. As the pace of technological change continues to increase, the issues of obsolescence and endless upgrades are likely to get worse.
So how do we fix it; what are the next steps?
Sadly, there is no quick fix. Attempting to fight such changes will only leave us behind the times and struggling to survive. Instead, we must learn to embrace the change and to capitalise on the new business environment. A greater focus on long-term thinking can only be a good thing, even if it makes the role for resellers considerably more challenging.
By focusing on strategic business objectives, resellers can work to streamline their offerings, providing better products and better service. This is what we have worked to excel at, understanding both sides of the debate. We must understand our providers' offerings as well as the demands of our clients.
Most important of all, we must learn to talk less about the tech, and more about the business.
Vikram Setia is co-founder and commercial director at InfoMentum
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