In the B2B world, evolving customer requirements and challenging market conditions are combining to place a new emphasis on the importance of experience, placing channel partners at the centre of this change.
This shift is driven by the need for more personalised, predictive, and digitised outcomes that help drive customer success.
According to Vele Galovski - vice president of Support and Field Services at Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) - COVID-19 has accelerated two core mega-trends disrupting the business model of technology providers.
“Commoditisation of feature functionality and a shift from selling units to selling consumption,” he outlined. “Both trends are a direct result of the way manufacturers have operated for many years, aligned to the approach of making, selling and shipping a product. Then they forget about it.
“Once a product has been placed and installed, manufacturers move onto the next sale with the supplier responsibility zone quite small. Manufacturers also like to build a better mouse trap by adding more features and complexities over time to stay one step ahead of the competition.”
But as acknowledged by Galovski, such add-ons outpace the ability of customers to consume in parallel, creating the “consumption gap” as a result.
“This is the difference between what customers are able to consume and all of the features available in the product,” he explained. “This gap is why support organisations exist in the first place, with the aim of helping customers extract the most out of products.”
With the services direction of travel clear, Galovski advised the channel that customers are now seeking reliable partners to deliver ongoing business outcomes from complex technology.
“Partners cannot cross-sell, up-sell or renew dissatisfied customers,” he cautioned. “The strategic imperatives for support organisations centre around accelerating connectivity and telemetry, maximising support efficiency and improving customer experience adhering to the way in which end-users want to be served. The channel must move support beyond break and fix.”
In response, Galovski cited the importance of partners selecting unique customer outcomes in which to excel at, recognising the value of embracing services to drive profitable end-user engagement.
“Learn to build recurring and service revenue streams,” he said. “Learn to drive customer adoption, account expansion and contract renewal because other activities are non-strategic.
“The traditional CAPEX business model is now great diminished and the act of selling will undergo a radical change as a result. Partners must establish the value of services at the initial sale due to the growing importance within the industry.
“Customers want a reliable partner to deliver ongoing business outcomes from complex technology and serving the end-user is now becoming increasingly digital in nature. This requires a new attitude because the day you land the initial sale is the lowest amount of revenue that you will ever get from that customer.”
Creating customer value
Building upon market analysis from TSIA, Romel Papali - director and general manager of Pointnext Operational Services across Asia Pacific at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) - outlined that from a partner perspective, customers are now demanding more with experience the key differentiator.
“Customers are demanding a digital experience in the channel which shows we understand their environments and who they are,” he stated. “The market winners are delivering on the promise of differentiated experiences, providing insights and capabilities that help customers succeed and deliver business outcomes.”
In response, Papali said customer focus priorities have changed aligned to evolved market trends, transitioning from products to services, solutions and experiences. To sustain such growth, HPE has released HPE Pointnext Tech Care to assist partners during the customer experience process.
“This represents a shift in the role of support from ‘fix my hardware’ to ‘help me get the most from my HPE product and drive my business forward’,” Papali said. “This has been reimagined from the ground up to support a customer-centric and digitally enabled customer experience.”
According to Papali, the newly simplified portfolio moves away from Data Centre Care and Proactive Care Advanced offerings to HPE Data Centre Care, "purpose built" to meet customer size and complexity requirements.
In addition, Proactive Care and Foundation Care solutions have evolved into HPE Pointnext Tech Care, operating as an AI-powered digitally automated break-fix to allow customers opportunity to maximise HPE products.
“For customers, this means differentiated product experience and easier access to our experts,” Papali added. “For partners, this offering is easy to sell and deliver while allowing the channel to focus on higher value services. The overall services benefits centre around a simplified and streamlined portfolio with digital customer experience at the centre.”
Delving deeper, and within the context of business outcomes, Papali said the new portfolio also allows businesses to “prevent issues before they occur” through Infosight predictive analytics, allowing customers to focus on core company priorities while representing "repeatable business" for the channel.