Aruba has outlined a market shift in which a renewed focus on ‘experiences’ is underway, driven by a transitioning away from traditional networking roots into the lucrative area of software-defined-WAN (SD-WAN).
Such a strategy - delivered during Atmosphere 2018 in Bangkok - will be carried out through the channel, as partners take centre stage in a transformative era.
"We are increasingly focused on software-defined solutions,” said Alain Carpentier, vice president of worldwide sales at Aruba. “This is a new area for us. It is all about value selling and we need to deliver this value to end-users through the channel."
In an industry that is transforming at breakneck speed, partners need to be agile, adapting quickly to industry requirements.
However, partners, like vendors, cannot do it alone. They need to help each other. They need a win-win for both parties, growing the market together.
"Value-selling is the basis our channel program,” said Carpentier, which the vendor launched post-acquisition by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). "We developed a channel program for networking, which is different from what HPE used to have with the channel.
"This program is based on two domains. The first domain is the ability to cross-sell between wireless and wired."
The second domain, Carpentier elaborated “was to deliver the value piece of the portfolio around software, security, as well as mobile engagement.”
“In other words, would it help the customers to develop competencies and expectations on that type of value selling? That is where we are.”
This guides the vendor's channel strategy as without the correct domain competencies, neither will succeed.
"We will continue to implement new skills on the channel,” said Carpentier, “based on this value selling process where we give margin advantages, training and certification which helps partners to value sell their services to end-customers.
"That is the very value-ordinated type of program we are providing to the channel."
It is not enough Carpentier emphasised to do technology for the sake of technology because frankly speaking, “the customer is not interested anymore in pure technology.”
What are they interested in? “They are looking for business outcomes,” said Carpentier. This is not straightforward, as Carpentier explained with many points to consider.
First of all, Carpentier explained, “is how can you develop a good experience with your customers.”
“It is why we believe that the world is moving around the ability to deliver the best experience for your market and it is why we estimate that the role that we have is to help transform the channel,” said Carpentier.
“Channel partners have to be competent in terms of technology but they also have to articulate the solution that they are selling in a way to deliver the best experiences for their customers.
“This means partners need to be more customer oriented to understand the business value of their customers. It is why we developed a specific program that helps them to articulate solely around what is the objective of the technology."
To reiterate, “technology for technologies sake is not enough because the most important thing for the customer is the outcome.”
“This is why we are pushing our partners to go and improve their competencies not only on the technology side but also understand what the customer experience is and how they can value this experience with Aruba,” said Carpentier.
To clarify, a competency certification is not something new for Aruba. The vendor has done so many a number of years.
“We are just now increasing the certification because our portfolio is growing,” said Carpentier. “We are now a more software-defined organisation.”
“We are moving more to the cloud,” added Carpentier, which is a new competency the vendor’s channel partners need to acquire. “Furthermore, we consider ourselves as a security company."
Furthermore, Carpentier said the vendor is now "very relevant" in regards to security.
"Security is now very relevant, especially for our partners," he added. "Our partners have started to qualify us as a security company. We are also moving more into the SD-WAN domain, which was a big part of this year’s Atmosphere event.
"SD-WAN is a new pillar for us and we are looking for partners to really help us penetrate this new world where we see a convergence between the wired and the wireless. Partners have a role to play in helping our customer move to SD-WAN."