Cloud Little Brother

July 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

by Diane Krakora, CEO

My older brother made me better. He was born two years before me and not only paved the way through our parents’ faulty expectations of curfews and perfect school attendance; he also motivated me to greatness. I was always trying to keep up – playing his sports (football, baseball, kick the can), stealing his books and listening to his music. I learned faster by following him around – and he continued to be pissed he wasn’t farther ahead than his annoying little sister. Maybe we’re unique because we’re both competitive, however there is evidence the second child develops more rapidly when they are close in age to their sibling.

Sitting here at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, I’m starting to believe a similar phenomenon is happening with solution providers transitioning to the cloud. It’s easier for the solution providers just now transitioning their business models to take advantage of cloud services because there are billing tools, sales training courses, pricing structures and compensation models to help them along faster. Two years ago we saw the first wave of solution provider start talking about cloud solutions – well, we called them Software-as-a-Service or in Microsoft’s case Software-plus-Service back then. They, often with the help of their vendors and distribution partners, have created tools, processes and materials to facilitate the transition. In talking with these first movers here at the conference they are starting to grumble that they are quickly losing their early adopter competitive advantage. How quickly the younger brother approaches the elders’ capability is up for some debate – particularly here amidst 12,000 cloud hungry solution providers. However the rate of adoption by the solution provider ecosystem is clearly accelerating and the partners that invested greatly over the last two years are feeling the pressure from the junior class.

We’ve been brainstorming on how vendors can help the early adopters capitalize on the customer adoption of cloud computing to maintain their lead. We’ve seen vendors offer additional margin opportunities, field based resources and demand generation activities to the partners that invested early in the cloud models.  However in talking with partners here at the conference, what they really need are additional sales and technical resources. They’re growing so quickly, they can’t keep up with the demand generated by and through their key vendor partners. So, instead of generating more leads that are going to fall through the cracks and annoy everyone (the vendor, partner and customer), think about putting together an initiative to help your first mover partners source and develop talent.  They will then be truly enabled to be successful with their cloud practices – and keep ahead of the next wave of solution providers altering their business models to follow the cloud.

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