Through our 2015 Trends in Cloud IT research, we found that today’s cloud-enabled organizations use an average of eight cloud applications. In two years, that number more than doubles to 17. How many cloud applications will you run in five years? In 10?
Can your IT team handle that kind of rapid cloud application growth? Perhaps. Will a partner help set you up for success as you scale and layer on more applications? Most likely — and we have the data to back it up.
We’ve discovered that large enterprises (5,001+ employees) that work with partners are 33% more likely to be satisfied with their cloud office system (Google Apps or Office 365). For smaller businesses, the partner effect is less pronounced, yet still evident. Organizations with more than 1,000 employees, but less than 5,001, are 16% more likely to be satisfied with their cloud office system while those under 1,000 employees are 3% more likely.
So what exactly is improving cloud office system satisfaction among organizations that work with partners?
The very nature of how organizations use and adapt technology to meet their needs has changed. “The cloud is not a transactional sale like buying a retail product off the shelf,” says Fintan Murphy, CEO at Damson Cloud, a cloud advisory and technology services firm. “It’s an ongoing relationship that strengthens and develops over time.”
Compare that to bare metal on-premises environments, where partners are brought in only to help guide organizations through infrequent and large-scale projects. For example, a company may bring in a partner just once every three years to install new hardware and customize a piece of software.
These are true projects with clear end dates — point A to point B.
In an on-premises world, it only makes sense to think of partners as one-off project tour guides. But with cloud technology, projects become more fluid. Technology advances faster.Even large cloud projects like migrating to a cloud office system lack clearly defined end dates. In fact, migrating to your cloud office system is only the beginning of a much larger and ongoing cloud initiative.
“The [partner-customer] relationship is no longer focused on ‘putting in X technology.’ It is about enabling the business, empowering users, providing solutions, and measuring success,” says Allen Falcon, CEO at Cumulus Global, a Google for Work Premier Partner. “This only happens with an on-going relationship where we understand our customer’s business, goals, objectives, and challenges.”
Each new enterprise innovation extends the list of questions that IT must answer. What are the latest and greatest cloud applications? How do I keep my company’s data secure while providing a breeding ground for end-user innovation? How do I quickly adopt technology and maintain a well-trained end-user population?
That’s why today’s partners should serve as your cloud GPS, acting as a continuous resource, not just an occasional helping hand.
Knowledge and Experience
According to data uncovered by the Cloud Technology Alliance, 52% of surveyed partners have 5-10 years of experience selling cloud solutions. The majority of partners have been selling and implementing cloud solutions for years.
However, make sure your partner has experience dealing with companies like yours, says Murphy. “You should look for a partner that focuses on your vertical or organisational size as they will be better suited to your specific business challenges.”
Partners are constantly surveying the technology landscape to find the best solutions for their clients. It’s their job. When asked what goes into deciding whether or not a partner will work with a vendor, partners say the decision comes down to “Strong market demand for a solution” and “Innovative technology,” according to the Cloud Technology Alliance Report.
In fact, 90% of channel partners say they “Frequently” conduct strategic reviews of their vendor relationships. You should avoid the 10% that don’t.
“Prospective customers often come to us with a specific solution in mind and are surprised that we still want to talk about requirements,” says Falcon. “Too often, as we learn about their business, we see other options that will be more successful and cost-effective. Share your requirements and your thoughts, but let us bring you options with pros and cons. We will validate your expectation or, in many cases, provide a better solution.”
In a heterogeneous cloud environment, paying for technology isn’t as simple as it once was. You’re no longer paying only a few vendors for all your technology needs — you’re billed by dozens, perhaps hundreds of cloud application vendors.
Partners can consolidate your payments as you scale. Instead of paying 10 — or potentially hundreds of bills for each of your cloud applications — you pay one. It’s just easier.
IT professionals are commonly looking to add a suite of cloud applications, as opposed to one-off solutions. Today, nearly 35% of partners say they are being asked for bundles more than ever, and just 2% of partners never get asked about bundled cloud application packages, according to the Cloud Technology Alliance.
Through close vendor relationships, partners can create enticing cloud application bundles at the most competitive prices on the market.
In a recent webinar, we polled more than 100 IT admins to find out how many end-user cloud applications they’d deployed in the last 12 months. More than 60% of respondents had rolled out more than three and more than 25% had rolled out five or more cloud applications. That means your end users, many of whom are likely new to cloud technology in general, are expected to learn — and master — roughly three new applications a year.
Cloud partners are experienced in a wide array of cloud applications, making them a reliable source of ongoing training for your end users.
Many companies that purchase solutions from large vendors may struggle to get the personalized support they need. Because they tend to focus on a niche industry or size, partners can provide tailored support at a level that most vendors can’t match.
Streamlined Deployment and Integration
It’s impossible to shortly summarize what goes into a cloud application deployment. There are just too many variables. Companies have different needs based on factors like size, security, budget, employee population, and much more. Every step in a deployment, from research to the roll out, requires a tremendous amount of care and expertise to pull off.
The best partners aren’t just thinking six months down the road; they’re helping you lay the foundation that will define the future of your organization.