Reinventing the Channel: Everything as a Service

Channel partners can and should play a strong role in helping to reinvent everything-as-a-service [XaaS] for enterprises of all sizes, says HP Inc. President of the Americas Christoph Schell.

Christoph Schell HP

Christoph Schell, President of the Americas, HP, Inc.

By Christoph Schell, President of the Americas, HP, Inc.

One of the most intriguing macro-economic trends happening in the technology world today is the transition from transactional to contractual sales. We’ve witnessed real-world examples of companies who have transformed industries with the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) approach, including high-profile examples such as, Netflix and Spotify.

The magnitude of this shift toward subscription services for both the home and the enterprise cannot be overstated. Infiniti Research Ltd. predicts XaaS will grow at a CAGR of 38.22 percent from 2016 to 2020. Although the projection is based on revenue from a huge range of services it doesn’t even factor in printing-as-a-service or home entertainment services, such as Amazon Prime, Hulu and more.

From the enterprise point of view, the acceleration toward XaaS comes after many years of more vertical, point-solution iterations such as software, platform, storage and infrastructure services. Each of these services address specific technology pain points, but customers need a more cohesive, one-stop experience to truly address their technology and, more importantly, business needs.

With XaaS, companies can literally customize the computing, printing and technology services they need, as they need them. In this way, the everyday infrastructure required to run the company shifts from being a question of capital expense to a more manageable and economically attractive operating expense. And with the right provider, it can be incredibly scalable too.

For the relationship between the provider and enterprise to work effectively, the XaaS provider must recognize the relationship has fundamentally changed.

At one level, the industry is moving away from the classic transactional model toward a contractual model. This in itself will open the door to a deeper customer relationship, one that will ensure a more satisfied customer, resulting in recurring revenue streams that can be monetized in the future.

At another level, the right provider will take a “consultative” approach to services, making sure that the customer is provisioned for what they need, when they need it, but also staying constantly in the loop with the client, listening for feedback, predicting needs, discussing options, acting upon them and adopting best practices for other customers.

This is where channel partners can and should play a strong role in helping to reinvent XaaS for enterprises of all sizes.

Working effectively with partners so businesses are able to work through a clean, clear, buying experience, is a critical part of the success equation. Yet that’s only the beginning.

Digital-savvy customers shop and buy in an omni-channel environment, from online sites and social media, to physical browsing. As these user-driven buying habits gain momentum, consumer product manufacturers, retailers and commercial resellers alike must adapt. This translates to technology, equipment and solution providers truly owning their brand, and working with their top retail and commercial partners to curate a seamless customer experience, optimized to holistically address this new omni-shopping environment, with the customer at the center.

This empowerment of and trust in partners to represent the brand effectively benefits the customers, who get faster service, while also benefiting the partners, who now have the full support and confidence to take valuable brands to market.

To provide full channel support, a brand needs to be focused on its core value proposition and not distracted with larger industry issues and getting embroiled in mergers of questionable value. Collaborating with partners, consulting with clients and working internally to provide the necessary services are all that’s required. It sounds simple, but it takes tenacity and focus.

In today’s market, there is clearly room for multiple providers, big and small, as the XaaS market is still in its infancy. Moving forward, however, the lion’s share of the business will shift to those who respond most nimbly to customer needs, from the office to the home, from the PC to the printer, with all the workflow services in between.

Enterprises will be looking for one software and services provider to simply and security manage all of their end user devices, whether it runs on Windows, iOS or Android. But to truly help the customer win and meet their unique business challenges, a dedicated partner will need to be there every step of the way.