To help reseller partners transform their business, First Distribution has developed the Cloud Catalyst programme.

“A lot of partners want to get into the cloud or managed services game but don’t quite know how to do it,” explains Chris Richardson, General Manager: Cloud and Hosting Services at First Distribution. “For companies that have always been project-based or reactive to requests for quotes, it can be very daunting.

“Cloud consulting and digital transformation are today’s buzzwords in the ICT boxing ring of value-added services. But what does it actually mean when you as a partner or end customer want to go down the cloud path? Is there a right or a wrong way?

“Business change is very dependent on what outcomes you are aiming for: do you want more customers as a partner or do you want to sell more products to your customers? As an end-user are you wanting to create more efficiency in your business or move towards an Opex type of model?”

First Distribution works with partners to help them find the answers to these questions, and to develop the right strategies to achieve their goals.

“We transact with a number of partners who deliver value to their customers in a number of ways and our job is always to evangelise solutions, provide services and be the distributor that really puts the value back into the VAD (value-added distributor),” Richardson says.

“To do this, First Distribution built its own programme called the Cloud Catalyst program, designed to help not only our partners but also help the partner understand how to engage at an end-user level in a consultative manner – you could say it’s the mechanics behind delivering a cloud business.”

In the Cloud Catalyst programme, First Distribution take partners from being a traditional ICT reseller (supply and demand) to a consultant of IT services on a consumption model.

“With Cloud Catalyst we are not just helping our partners to understand the new business models, but we help them to actually do it,” Richardson says.

“In this, we are not a typical distributor, because we actively invest in our partners’ success. Our business is not built around selling a product and moving on. Our partners transact every month and we want them to grow and be successful.”

The programme is designed to build the foundation and then accelerate the business and is built on six pillars: Align, Enable, Grow, Consumption, Technical, and Solutions.


Align – strategy, staffing, budget

In the first part of the journey, partners learn how to align their strategy, staff and budgets internally so they can start building their go-to-market foundation.
“Without the foundation, it would be very hard to accelerate.”


Enable – programme, technical, business

During this phase, partners get assistance in understanding First Distribution’s cloud offerings, and the vendor programmes.
“They find out where the opportunities are to build out skills from a sales and technical perspective, and ensure that they are aligned with what they need to take services to market.”


Grow – revenue, profit, cashflow

Every business has to grow, and partners learn how they can do this in the cloud world by lowering their cost of customer acquisition
In this phase, they learn how to grow from a sales, profitability, cash flow and revenue standpoint. “They get to understand how to deliver on services – and how to collect the revenue,” Richardson says.


Consumption – quote, implement, bill

Cloud services are a consumption-based model, so partners need to understand how this works, and how to bill it out.
“They learn how to use the system to do quotes and invoice customers, and understand all the other nuances of the business like rate of exchange, withholding tax, vat and more.”


Technical – recruit, quote, do, bill

As they become more advanced, partners learn how to not just sell on cloud services, but also build out managed services.

“Managed service providers are not simply supplying software,” Richardson explains. “They are no longer just selling a licence but closing the loop to create stickiness with the customer. And that isn’t as much a sales as a technical engagement. And it’s an ongoing engagement, wrapping managed services around the licensing.”


Solution – design, implement, market, bill

In the final phase of the Cloud Catalyst programme, partners should be able to design, build and implement solutions for their customers.

“These could include solutions that they have built or procured, or something they have designed and are managing themselves in a vertical environment,” Richardson says.