Whatever happens as lockdowns are lifted, we have to accept that the switch back to any kind of ‘normal’ will not be a complete reset.
Jean-Philippe Barleaza, EMEA vice-president: channel, alliances and general business at VMware
A post-pandemic world will require a different way of doing business, as companies look to revive demand and pivot their offerings to meet a world of new organisational models, different consumption options, tighter customer budgets, new ways of closing business deals and evolved consumer behaviours.
The challenge companies face over the coming months is in sustaining value creation born from crisis and reinvesting this in recovery. This is an opportunity for businesses to recalibrate how they in fact function, and it’s a significant opportunity for our partner community. On a scale not seen before, partners can help their customers transform the very nature of what they do; pivoting entire business models, supply chains and operations to help their customers – from banks to retailers, schools to universities, manufacturers to healthcare providers – remain resilient.
The stakes have never been higher. It’s immediate make-or-break survival for many organisations, weathering the longer-term economic storm for others, and driving business-wide efficiencies and competitive advantage for all.
So how can partner organisations step-up and deliver in this context?
Bring vision and perspective
In a sense, the response to the crisis resulted in one of the largest mass proof of concept exercises for digital transformation ever undertaken. However, post-lockdown life requires a different level of mid-term decision making.
Businesses now need to apply continued strategic thinking to the short-term choices made in response to the emergency, taking into account the events and insights of the past few weeks and months. This is, for example, transforming the immediate business continuity measures (perhaps getting employees logged-in and up and running within minutes, without worrying about installation of application or types of hardware, via VMware Workspace One) to a robust digital foundation that enables them to modernize application environments and fully commit to cloud-based flexibility, further distribute network capacity and scale security, and continue digital workspace investments to create greater agility for productive employees.
Here’s where the right partners can play a vital role as trusted advisors – they have the right vertical market and technical expertise; they know, for example, that VMware Tanzu is built specifically to bring consistency across diverse cloud environments to speed deployment of new apps, or that a Virtual Cloud Network is the best approach to ensure a secure software-defined networking layer from data center to cloud edge. And they’re also invested enough to know the nuances of their customers’ businesses, yet objective enough to drive new coordination and ways of thinking between different departments within companies. They can bring the vision and perspective to reshape how these organisations work, survive and excel.
Establish USPs and points of differentiation
To do the any of the above, partners first need to establish their USPs and ultimate value. In a highly disrupted and competitive market, the need to demonstrate the business case justifying their involvement is greater than ever before.
That could involve further aligning to, and upskilling in, specific verticals that are relevant to the partner’s expertise and show significant potential in this environment – from the unprecedented acceleration of bricks to clicks in retail, to the digital revolution of healthcare, to the near-total destabilization and upheaval of almost all transport sectors.
Sitting alongside this is the opportunity for technical-led differentiation, supported by updates that Partner Connect brought to market earlier this year – specifically those structured around Master Services Competencies (MSCs). Our highest validations of services capability, our MSCs are aligned to VMware’s strategic IT priorities and cover Data Center Virtualization, Cloud Management and Automation, Cloud Provider, VMware Cloud on AWS, Network and Security, Digital Workspace and Modern Applications. Partners only need invest in the MSC(s) that are relevant to their business model – meaning they can pick their preferred path(s) of differentiation in pursuit of the exact business they want to pursue. The programme is also tiered, and we invest resource in line with what the partner invests, to further support the level of differentiation that they can offer.
It’s an approach that’s benefiting the likes of Yves Sandfort, CEO of VMware partner comdivision, who states that “the Master Services Competencies are another example of how we really show our value to the customer… it helps us explain where the differences are when they engage with us and helps us move away from a product conversation onto a wider conversation about what their IT vision is, and how we can help them get there.”
Now is the time to act
No one can predict exactly what will happen as lockdowns are lifted and shifted. While we all hope for a degree of normality as soon as possible, businesses will continue in a state of flux for some time. There is every likelihood that further waves of infection will force new lockdowns over the next year or so.
At this time of seismic disruption, partners can deliver a consistency of experience that organisations are demanding. Whether it’s via consulting, professional and/or managed services, partners can make it simple for organisations to consume technology as and how they wish, all via one digital foundation, to help weather the storm we’re all currently facing. In doing, they can drive tangible business outcomes and position themselves well to establish longer-term relationships with their customers.
This all means that partners need to communicate to, and work with, organisations now; to help build resilience into their operations during this time of transition whilst, at the same time, continuing to keep an eye on the mid and long-term so that any investments organisations make today still remain valid for whatever may be around the corner.
Ultimately the opportunity is there. Just as the pandemic has proven to be a proof of concept for digital transformation, it’s also a means of validating of the value that partners can bring to their customers as trusted advisors.