Companies that adopt an ecosystem business model will grow 50% faster over the next two years than those who don’t, says IDC in its Worldwide IT Channels and Alliances 2019 Predictions. It’s a powerful metric. When you add to the mix platforms that boost automation and visibility while creating agility and resilience, those collaborative ecosystems become even more of a boon to everyone involved, including channel partners.
For the channel, the key is to tap into an ecosystem, one that brings together industry buyers (MSPs, agents, etc.) and sellers (network operators) and offers an established pipeline to make sure you’re effectively selling to a critical mass of qualified buyers. That’s an ecosystem, not a company.
Successful ecosystems are always growing and evolving, and they untangle real customer problems that companies wouldn’t be able to solve, or solve nearly as quickly, otherwise. They deliver business value, resilience and stickiness, offering a qualified community, plus the ability to target connections and collaborate across key platforms. The combination of successful partnerships and platforms enables meaningful bottom line growth for all through new solutions, increased efficiencies, faster go-to-market tools, the creation of verticals and the ability to reallocate resources to close more revenue.
Location-Based Data and Analysis
A successful network procurement and deployment experience is heavily reliant on the digitization of the total addressable market to drive automation and intelligence around partner networks — to make the connection. This requires accurate, location-centric and easily accessible data to be housed in one central place and seamlessly interconnected into the entire network of buyers and sellers. Without it, the process essentially becomes a “good enough” scenario.
The Buyer: Network deployment planning for the buyer starts with having the proper tools to expand their reach and support their off-net requirements. Buyers should identify optimization opportunities to groom to new networks and drive cost out of legacy circuits, including access to coverage heat maps and reports identifying the most common networks based on usage. A search by provider, coverage and product, or a combination of these and other location-specific data based on available points-of-presence, is ideal.
We enter holy grail territory when we add access to pricing based on on-net, near-net, and off-net locations, particularly as it relates to the last mile — an old bastion of fiber building that has seen a resurgence as wireless and 5G networking have come into play. The ability to bulk load and intersect, in near real-time, pricing, products, suppliers and delivery times all in one place wasn’t obtainable just a few short years ago. A lot has changed since then — buyers now have access to that data, and they should use it. The ability to consume this data through GIU or API, allowing partners to eliminate the infamous swivel chair into multiple systems, streamlines their business practices, which is critical to building consistent growth between partnerships using fewer resources.
The Seller: The seller experience is built on digitizing the total addressable market and driving automation and intelligence around their ability to sell on-net, near-net, and off-net networks.
Sellers must identify new locations and routes that expand their reach to support their growth. Identifying the total addressable market across multiple scenarios to decide which is the best path, partner and site to explore, is critical. Like buyers, sellers must leverage heat maps, scenario-generating tools using total addressable market and competitive analysis data as predefined, customizable and searchable scenarios.
Sellers can and should automate their connection into network operators’ serviceability (location of services, access medium, delivery time), product availability and pricing (monthly, special construction, NRC) tools. Sellers can then push an automated flow, directly load rate cards and also load zipped Keyhole Markup Language files to keep data actionable and updated — taking the carrier sales teams out of spreadsheets and into a fully automated and efficient way of finding and keeping new business. Buyers are looking to the sellers with APIs so they can easily process the data and pull it into a system of their choice. This allows the buyers to leverage the data faster, and with more intelligence and accuracy, thereby helping shorten the sales cycle and increase the win rate. This is a win for both sides, leaving behind those who haven’t yet adopted this level of automation.
Collaborative Ecosystem Is Key
None of the above means anything if a critical mass of buyers and sellers aren’t brought together in an ecosystem that opens doors to buildings served and other location-based data and pricing. Moreover, it’s not helpful if these processes aren’t brought into a format that is easily replicated and queried by all the stakeholders — the buyers and sellers, CSPs and MSPs.
Next-gen technologies such as 5G have accelerated the need to think about how we enable a trusted partner ecosystem. Massive cooperative opportunities with a common conduit between all parties in the market exist — and need to be further explored by channel partner agents and others looking for success in 2020 and beyond.
Carrie Ferrero is a board member and education chair of the Alliance of Channel Women and is a board member with Channel Partners Online. Follow her on LinkedIn or the company @connected2fiber on Twitter.