Imagine that you have been tasked with purchasing an IVR solution for your business. Your company would like to automate frequent customer inquires or a repetitive business process, and you are in charge of conducting research and discovery to procure relevant information on how this IVR product will function with your current information systems and how it will be deployed.
Nowadays, anyone’s normal reaction would be to jump on Google, enter the term IVR or IVR system, and peruse both the paid and organic results to find IVR companies operating in the space. You are able access relevant websites, find information about system functionality, request quotes and additional info and find case studies detailing how the product operates. This is all possible via a couple mouse clicks.
Think back to a time before we searched for products on the web. To an era when it wasn’t possible to immediately hop on Google and view results for the top IVR companies. Typically, engaging in this type of research (without access to search engines) would have resulted in you contacting a channel partner (or reseller) operating locally or regionally to inquire about hardware and services.
Prior to the rise of Google, technology companies would sell communication or information systems through resellers, who would then sell it to end user. The technology company was almost exclusively focused on building a product that would then be sold to a channel partner (and very rarely dealt directly with end users).
Why was this the normal sales process? Because the manufacturer was primarily focused on research and development, while the channel parter was more concerned with marketing the goods and services to end users in their territories. This type of partnership was quite advantageous in the days before Google Search dominated all types of purchasing and ‘the cloud’ was an omnipresent fixture in the technology realm.
Software and tech companies were producing a piece of hardware or software that would be deployed and maintained on-site. The technology would be sold and installed by the reseller. In this way, the software producer-channel partner relationship was productive and profitable for manufacturer, vendor and eventual consumer. Each company in the process was clear on the deliverables being offered. This all changed with the rise of ‘the cloud’.
An article by Jim Burton featured in NoJitter explores the evolving relationship between software companies, channel partners, and end users in an era where consumers procure their information and communication systems via Google and deploy their technology in ‘the cloud’. Burton seeks to understand the evolution of the technology procurement process, and how this has impacted and will continue to impact channel partners.
Per Burton “There used to be separate channels for phone systems, computer systems and data networks. Today, the channel vendors have to be adept in all these disciplines, as well as general business application solutions.”
Burton’s ultimate conclusion is that resellers must change their entire business model to accommodate the new realities of technology deployment in the cloud: “the reality is that the UC channel needs to change how they do business at almost every level.”
Stay tuned for The Rise and Fall of Channel Partners…