We’ve all heard the saying “relationships matter” but now, they matter more than ever before in the history of the technology industry. Why? Because the very same relationships that used to be ‘nice to have’ are now must-haves for every business plan. Think about that statement in relation to partners and the average enterprise’s journey to the cloud.
Cloud Innovation Meets Enterprises
A provider or implementor, as we tend to think of them at JS Group, was selected based on who submitted the most logical, best configured, and well-priced proposal. Sure, there was a sprinkle of partnering inherent in the deal, but it wasn’t a formal partnership, it was a supplier relationship at its very core. Workloads were moving to the cloud and the implementor selected was helping the enterprise make those moves — relatively straightforward and routine.
But then, something happened — true cloud innovation entered the enterprise — and the relationship needs to be changed. Enterprises needed partners who not only knew how to drive technology innovations but also how to align those innovations to the enterprise’s needed business outcomes. While many cloud partners in the past may have boasted about their technological expertise, the right partner now needs to align with a higher calling.
For example, if the enterprise is targeting speed and agility improvements in their manufacturing line, coupled with cost savings and effective resource utilization for their business, then the right cloud partner needs to have true expertise in manufacturing improvement and resource utilization, not just cloud solutions. Plus, that very same partner needs to understand that different goals mean different things to different types of enterprises.
Further, a true partner will help you define what cost savings really means to your firm and what the benchmark for cost savings is based on your industry, location, and other variables. Because, what a manufacturing firm means by cost savings is going to be very different than what a services company, as an example, sees as cost savings.
Partners Must Understand Cloud Technology
In fact, for the first time ever in our industry, these partners need to be businesspeople who can isolate the needs for business change. Cloud partners deliver the needed change through cloud innovation versus cloud geeks who deliver cloud solutions after the businesspeople have figured out what is needed.
Additionally, that very same partner will need to help you to prioritize your needs, wants, and goals. In other words, when the final plan comes down to the wire, what are the key elements that must be achieved, and in what order to ensure alignment with your business goals to provide an acceptable cost, risk, and result? This is not a task for the faint of heart. This requires partners that dig in and dig deep to get to the root core of what the cloud can truly do to propel your business forward.
Taking Steps Toward Cloud Innovation
Let’s face it, growing the business with these cloud innovations is what we are generally trying to do. After all, as leaders in the business, that is our goal. But despite knowing that, we have all seen the statistic that 70% of digital transformations (generally very cloud-heavy projects!) fail, according to BCG and their groundbreaking work on the steps to take to avoid failure.
One of those steps was ‘put the best people in the right places’ which, for the record, includes your partner and their people. Using them where they are most and best utilized is key to success.
Let’s keep using that manufacturing example. Let’s say that the cloud solution is devised and delivered. Working with your cloud partner is designed to lessen repetitive tasks on the manufacturing floor and free up workers to focus on output quality versus output tracking.
However, in this instance, the workers on the floor do not understand how to use the technology if there is a change in the supply chain condition. So, they revert back to the old way of doing things until a supervisor or manager can reset the process each time. This is ineffective and doesn’t obtain the intended resource utilization goals. As a result, the manufacturing company finds themselves either having to staff up or slow production down.
A true cloud partner will be tracking these outputs. They will see in the data and resultant insights that there is a problem. They will be able to break down the problem into a workable fix that doesn’t require management intervention by implementing new software or process controls that ensure the floor workers have the real tools they need. That is true partnership. The partner is as invested in your company’s success as you are.
Now, it’s important to note, of course, that this type of partner will earn their keep differently than the cloud supplier of the past. They may look for a portion of the cost savings or a percentage of the upside, or they may look to be on a continual retainer. These commercial terms can all be worked out for the right partnership that delivers success for your business.
Defining the Qualities of True Cloud Partners
The bottom line is that a true cloud partner works where the rubber meet the road. They are engaged in your business planning and business goal attainment. They have skin in the game for your achievement of those goals through flexible pricing plans or risk-based plans. Cloud Partners are a little more business and a little less geek — until the design and implementation stage when they have the right technology experts at the table and in your project. And finally, they are real partners who are there not just for switching you over to the cloud but through the business implementation of the solution and the resultant outcomes.
This is the definition of partnering in our new world. Each of us must ask ourselves, do we have a plan to find and attract those partners?
If you don’t, attending the Cloud Wars Expo in San Francisco may be just the thing you need to get the specific answers about what your business can achieve through real cloud partnerships and how to go get them!
In fact, Kris Blackmon, CCO of the JS Group, will be at the event. During two sessions at the expo, she will be sharing her secrets for effective partnering and how to leverage the right partnering strategy. She is also available to conduct one-on-ones with attendees during the event to answer their most pressing partner needs. As Kris always says: “The partnerships that work are those that did the hard work at the start of the relationship not during it.”
Join her and learn more by registering for the Cloud Wars Expo and, as always, Happy Partnering!