Of the many exciting facts and predictions about the shape of enterprise technology now and to come that appear in CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook for 2018, there are two facts that might seem hard to reconcile for those on the provider side of the IT equation.
On one hand, the report tells us that technology is no longer getting the benefit of the doubt from businesses. It’s becoming more clear there are active downsides of technology, causing people and companies to be more skeptical. On the other hand, the report tells us that tech partnering is trending bigtime. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed reported using some sort of technology partner (solution provider, VAR, MSP, etc.). Twenty percent reported being frequent users and 23 percent are regular users. And while the report takes pains to note that it’s mere correlation, not causation, SMBs that use tech partners tend express a higher-than-average level of satisfaction with their IT.
But there’s no real conflict between these two concepts. What these facts indicate when you put them together is that companies have a better understanding of what they need out of a solution provider than they used to. They’re excited to benefit from everything the right partner can offer – but a partner and the solutions they’re offering have to offer real, demonstrable, tangible value and ROI.
That means that in 2018 and beyond, opportunities are better than ever for tech providers, if they can break through the wall of healthy skepticism they’ll run into from potential clients. Honesty, integrity and quality of product have, of course, always been key to successful partnerships. But now businesses have the in-house knowledge to avoid IT solutions that overpromise and under-deliver; ones that create chaos rather than streamlining it away.
So how do you definitively prove that to a client? Digging deeper into the 2018 IT Industry Outlook shows principles through which partners can create a path to successful tech relationships with healthily cautious clients.
Make Sure You’re Meeting a Need
Two of the biggest challenges to making technological progress that respondents identified in the Industry Outlook were finding the benefits and ROI of the technology (45 percent) and needing a clear use case for new technology (38 percent). So, in 2018, the onus is on the solution provider to really understand a prospective client’s operations and needs and show them how the solution will actually make their lives better. Businesses don’t want an additional tool to worry about or something that no one will actually use. It’s critical to show them that you’re providing solutions that will make life easier and business smoother.
Take Cybersecurity Seriously
Cybersecurity is one of companies’ biggest concerns, and understandably so – businesses have seen the catastrophic fallout of data-breaches in the headlines and they want to know they won’t be next.
The need to mitigate anxiety over cyber-threats means that being able to have an informed discussion about issues like cybersecurity, data privacy and what you’re doing about them is a must. Getting enterprise-level accreditation for cybersecurity is another big way to demonstrate a commitment to the data security of prospective and current partners alike.
Demonstrate Dynamism and Reliability
Businesses place the ability to identify and implement innovations and having correctly-functioning, reliable technology as the two biggest characteristics that put a company ahead of the curve, according to the Industry Outlook.
While don’t-sell-something-that-breaks should be obvious, offering in-depth support and understanding how a product integrates with a company’s operations, and how it works for them, is just as important. Showing a track record of responsiveness, a willingness to upgrade and retooling to meet the custom needs of a client – operationally and technologically – can go a long way in showing them you’re ahead of the curve.
Separate Buzz From Real Innovations
Businesses are skeptical about being sold a tool purporting to be the next big thing, and it is skepticism rooted in experience. At this point in the evolution of enterprise technology, many have poured over trades expounding on trends that ended up being overblown – or even vaporware. And plenty have taken the next step and invested in next-big-thing solutions that ended up being ineffective, too. So it’s understandable that some will be dismissive when they hear that an IoT solution is a must-have or that they’re missing out trying to do business without a given cloud-based application.
Be prepared to show companies why a solution goes beyond the buzz. Know who is currently using the solution and how they’ve succeeded with it. Utilize data and testimonials to build your case. Give a client a reason to trust that your solution is really something they need and – of course – make sure the reality lives up to the hype.Click here to view the full IT Outlook Report 2018!