Tech Data: IT firms must shift focus away from products to solutions, business outcomes

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Tech Data: IT firms must shift focus away from products to solutions, business outcomes

Solution providers that aren't ready to meet the fast-changing requirements of businesses that today are less ikely to rely on traditional IT infrastructures are putting themselves at risk, according to Tech Data

Preparing to be a future-facing solution provider requires a lot of changes in how to approach IT, said Andrea Miner, director of business intelligence and corporate strategy at the US-headquartered distributor.

Miner, speaking before an audience of solution providers at last week's Tech Data Channel Link conference in Austin, Texas, said too many solution providers are still at the "second platform" stage of IT. The second platform, as characterised by research firm IDC, is a focus on client/server business with ethernet the primary connectivity solution and PC workstations the primary user device.

That business is still growing, but at a projected anaemic growth rate from 2018 to 2021, after which it will start to shrink, Miner said. The real growth will come in what IDC terms the "third platform," which is characterised by a shift to cloud computing, wireless networking, ubiquitous user access to IT resources, and the Internet of Things, she said.

To capture the revenue growth promised by the third platform, which goes hand in hand with businesses' increased investment in their digital transformation projects, solution providers will need to change how they do business, Miner said.

Solution providers will need to be less broad technology-focused and become more specialised, she said. It is also important for them to be more long-term focused on developing business, with business done based on long-term relationships rather than single deals, she said.

Solution providers will no longer succeed by working with customers' IT departments, but will instead need relationships with customers' business drivers.

"You will have to focus on capturing the mindshare of the line-of-business people as well," she said.

It is the line-of-business people who influence 80 percent of all technology purchases and who fund 60 percent of al technology purchases, Miner added.

But even as the purchasing centre point moves toward these people, there is growing confusion as they are constantly dealing with hype.

"They need help in understanding the trends," she said. "They need to understand how to meet their needs in a way that is different from the old-school way."

To make this work, solution providers need to shift their conversations from IT performance to business outcomes, including such things as innovation, business agility, customer experience, business operations costs, and so on, Miner said.

"New business models are coming from new ways to consider business outcomes. … It opens up opportunities you might not have seen before."

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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