Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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How To Avoid Being An A.S.S. (Affiliated Software Seller) – 3 Things Cloud Vanguards Should Do

To all the Cloud Vanguards (consultants, CIOs, etc.):

Please, PLEASE, don’t be an Affiliated Software Seller. Don’t take kickbacks, don’t work off of the margin, don’t try to sell in volume. Why?

Falling back on a traditional reseller scheme is absolutely not going to work. There is absolutely no lucrative work in being a helping hand on a system that needs very little configuration! It’s like trying to hire a truck driver to pilot your airplane… except the airplane already comes with a pilot.

To all the VARs out there… Free lunches are over. It’s horrible right? Gone are the days of easy quick sales of a thousand licenses every time the software updates are over.

What’s left? How about adding true value and moving up the food chain? The professional service of helping companies move into cloud computing is going to be a competitive industry of analysts, business developers and consultants who understand how dynamic the shift in technology will be. And these cloud vanguards are bringing the heat. The market demands real help and real analysis.

So what do we, the cloud vanguards have to offer?

Expertise and planning for the migration: Leverage your understanding of how much time and effort it takes to move to a new system. You as the “Consultant” should have a keen understanding of change management as well as time management. Companies going into SaaS and cloud computing don’t necessarily understand all of the nuts and bolts internally they will have to tweak, even if it’s just a little one on one with the CEO to show him the ropes. Perhaps most importantly, cloud vanguards help to alleviate the stress of migration even when things are tricky. A big part of what we do is keep the focus on the objectives throughout the process. The goal is not to have the shiniest perfect system ever, the goal is to have something in place that is better and more practical.

Road-mapping and incremental adjustments: Cloud Vanguards are drivers – we excite companies and help them kick start the cloud migration. But in most cases, company leaders will lean on us to lead the way and insure we’re making the right decisions for a successful adoption. If you’re geared up to just resell, you’re making moves too fast and driving recklessly. That’s why we’re not resellers. We’re in it for the success of the client’s company. Great drivers from Michael Schumacher to Ken Block know that the devil is in the minor corrections – help your client make those corrections with incremental adjustments and change.

We are the next generation of outsourced CIOs, so start acting like one: Change management, long term objective driven road maps, and incremental adjustments sounds like something a CIO would do, and that’s exactly what we are. SaaS makes possible a nearly 100% outsourced solution, support at all levels comes with that. If you’re not constantly up to date on the software that is being released every week, you’re not doing your job. Trends and hype are important, but not nearly as important as understanding what applications, platforms and software work, for whom and for which reasons. Great cloud vanguards will have a team of pilots, but in the end we can provide something far more valuable.

If you’re a business, quit hiring truck drivers and bring in the air traffic control directors…

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.