Distributors going digital

Mark Wass, strategic sales director, UK and North EMEA, CloudBlue, outlines how to succeed in the XaaS era.

The era of the anything-as-a-service (XaaS) economy has led to groundbreaking transformation in the way technology is procured and sold. This has resulted in distributors going digital.

Consumption-based business models have been slowly gaining ground across the enterprise tech stack, with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) solutions becoming increasingly common. Enterprise clients also now prefer subscription-based contracts for their IT and technology services.

The opportunity is clear. According to GTDC, more than 70 per cent of the channel’s resale revenue is sourced through distributors, with the volume capabilities and value-add opportunities that channel distributors bring to the table being invaluable to short-term and long-term channel success.

That said, these attractive gains will only come to fruition when distributors prioritise end-to-end automation. With the right automation technologies in place, distributors can ensure their XaaS marketplace is primed to scale and is able to service a higher number of contracts, maintain business standards and ensure operational costs remain manageable.

The pathway to new cloud sales can be complex, but is achievable with these three successive stages.

Robust foundations

First, develop and grow a digital solutions catalogue. The anything-as-a-service (XaaS) economy demands the latest solutions. These increasingly come in the form of ‘bytes’ rather than boxes. To excel in the delivery of digital products, distributors will first require a comprehensive digital solutions catalogue.

Some distributors may already have a product catalogue, and others are yet to begin. Either way, the ability to offer a broad range of solutions is key to progress. As such, integrating vendors on a case-by-case basis risks slowing time-to-revenue and impacting the pace of growth.

Equally, manual processes related to order fulfillment, billing and delivery create operational roadblocks that are avoidable given the cutting-edge capabilities that cloud delivery platforms can provide.

The popularity and variety of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions – such as those offered by Microsoft and Azure – offer an ideal starting point and will create a robust foundation for any digital product catalogue.

Whether in the initial stages of creation or looking to diversify the solution offering further, CloudBlue’s product catalogue offers access to the latest solutions from over 200 market-leading vendors to help distributors build a competitive catalogue without delay.

Distributors can also gain a significant early advantage via CloudBlue’s automated ordering and fulfillment solutions that reduce reliance on manual processes and help to boost operational efficiency.

Expanding reach

With an active catalogue and new recurring revenue streams in play, it’s time for distributors to move into stage two and create their own XaaS marketplace in order to streamline procurement, fulfillment and billing processes with resellers and partners.

Distributors are well accustomed to the impact of steep operating costs on final margins, therefore XaaS marketplaces are likely to be particularly attractive given their ability to offer hyperscale growth.

After an initial investment, XaaS marketplaces allow distributors to expand their market reach – and revenue potential – almost exponentially, without creating a comparable increase to overheads.

Unlocking growth

Finally, through a powerful commerce engine, distributors can enable their partners and resellers by creating their own branded storefronts. Distributors can publish a custom catalogue with their own services and bundles in multiple languages, currencies and billing models and offer their resellers the ability to operate in any language or currency.

Distributors can look to develop a robust ecosystem of specialised channel partners once the basic foundations and digital solution marketplace are established. Then, they can unlock the ability to offer the latest hybrid cloud services, such as networking, productivity, or cybersecurity solutions to curate different listings according to the reseller location, in consideration of local customer requirements.

This article appeared in our January 2023 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.