How the channel can help businesses transition out of the transition
VMware’s Jean-Philippe Barleaza examines the role of technologies and partnerships in helping businesses reset and recover
Regardless of what happens as coronavirus restrictions continue to change in either direction, we must accept the return to any kind of ‘normal’ will not be a complete reset. A post-pandemic landscape will demand a different way of doing business, as companies look to revive revenue streams and pivot their offerings to meet a world of new organisational models, fresh ways of closing business deals and evolved consumer behaviours.
The challenge companies face over the coming months is in sustaining value creation born from the crisis, and reinvesting in recovery. This is an opportunity for businesses to recalibrate how they function, and it’s a significant opportunity for our partner community too. On a scale before unseen, partners can help their customers transform the very nature of what they do; pivoting entire business models, supply chains and operations to help their customers.
The stakes have never been higher. It’s a case of immediate make-or-break survival for many organisations, and being forced to weather the long-term economic storm for others. For all businesses, however, leaders must grapple with the need to drive efficiencies and develop a post-pandemic competitive advantage.
Vision and perspective
The response to the coronavirus crisis resulted in one of the largest mass proof-of-concept exercises for digital transformation ever undertaken, in a sense. However, post-lockdown life requires a different level of mid-term decision making than many would presume.
Businesses must now apply continued strategic thinking in short-term decision-making, taking into account the events and insights of the past few months. This involves transitioning the immediate business continuity measures into a robust digital foundation that enables organisations to modernise application environments and fully commit to cloud-based flexibility, further distribute network capacity and continue digital workspace investments to create more agility for employees.
The right partners can play a vital role at this stage as trusted advisors so long as they have the right vertical market and technical expertise; they know, for example, the particulars around certain cloud infrastructure systems, their precise purposes and which scenarios they would be best suited to. Partners should also be invested enough to know the nuances of their customers’ businesses, yet objective enough to drive new coordination and ways of thinking between different departments within companies. They should bring forth the right vision and perspective to reshape how these organisations work, survive and excel.
Embracing the ‘new normal’
To be successful in these aims, partners must first establish their USPs and their ultimate value, and in a highly disrupted and competitive market, the need to demonstrate the business case for justifying their involvement is greater than ever before.
That could involve further aligning to, and upskilling in, specific verticals relevant to the partner’s expertise and show significant potential in this environment – from the unprecedented acceleration of bricks-to-clicks in retail to the digital revolution of healthcare. Sitting alongside this is the opportunity for technical-led differentiation, supported by changes that we, for example, have made in our partner programme.
Nobody can predict exactly what will happen as lockdowns are gradually lifted. While we all hope for a degree of normality soon, businesses will continue in a state of flux for some time. There is every likelihood that further waves of infection will force new lockdowns over the next year or so. At this time of seismic disruption, partners can deliver a consistency of experience that organisations are demanding. Whether it’s through consulting, professional and/or managed services, partners can make it simple for organisations to consume technology, all through a single digital foundation, to help weather the storm we all face. In doing so, they can drive tangible business outcomes and position themselves to establish long-term relationships with customers.
This all means partners need to communicate to, and work with, organisations now to help build resilience into their operations during this time of transition. At the same time, they must continue to keep an eye out on the mid-term and long-term so any investments made today still remain valid for whatever threats might be around the corner.
Ultimately the opportunity is there. Just as the pandemic has proven to be a proof-of-concept for digital transformation, it’s also a means of validating the value that partners can bring to their customers as trusted advisors.
Jean-Philippe Barleaza is EMEA VP for Channel, alliances and general business
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