10 Go-to-Market Questions You Will Need to Answer
Today’s special: service. Cloud service, managed service, software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS)—the IT market is rapidly moving, or has moved, from the “traditional” on-premise client-server license-based model to one built on cloud delivery and/or subscription IT as a service. ITaaS is one of the fastest-growing pieces of a slower-growing IT pie.
While ITaaS remains a small percentage of overall IT spending, its portion is expanding at a much faster rate (double digit) than on-premise hardware and software (single digit). Many of the latest predictions point to mobility, big data and cloud services as the growth drivers of IT spending, which Gartner forecasts will continue to grow at about 4% annually for the next several years.
The cloudy forecast means that as organizations shift to providing ITaaS to their employees, partners and customers, the delivery model is shifting to public, private and hybrid clouds. Organizations may be spending less on on-premise infrastructure, but the cloud requires a premise: Somewhere there is a data center, somewhere there is network infrastructure and somewhere there is a service provider that enables unified communications (or other use cases or workloads).
These clouds, along with virtualization, result in more efficient use of the infrastructure, as well as the ability to rent versus buy—moving CapEx to OpEx (capital expenditures to operating expenditures). Many of these advances, however, also mean greater requirements for IT organizations: big data, mobility and bring your own device, increased interoperability and security. These advanced models also require IT decision makers to choose which cloud strategy to adopt and which workloads to keep in-house versus outsource.
So what does this mean to us as technology marketing and sales leaders? It changes everything, that’s what. We must recognize that we can’t just sell point products; we have to think about the entire “services delivery stack or architecture.” In particular, consider these 10 questions:
1. How do our products fit within the stack?
2. What is the solution architecture?
3. If our products are part of a solution, what use case or workload are we addressing for our prospective customers? (Meaning, we have to listen to customers and prospects to understand their needs before we try to sell them something!)
4. How do we differentiate our value to customers and prospects as part of a solution?
5. If we can’t provide the entire solution, should we partner? With which technology and solution providers should we form alliances?
6. If we aren’t selling products in a transaction and are now selling solutions in a service-based model—what complementary managed or professional services should we be providing? Which services require partners?
7. What sales and support roles are required?
8. How should we compensate our salespeople?
It also changes our distribution models—in a services world, fewer products will go through reseller distribution, and service providers play a significantly greater role.
9. Which service providers are the best ones to align with?
10. How do we differentiate our value to the service provider?
Being in an ITaaS world prompts many questions about the way we go to market. I’ve raised just a few. If we don’t answer these questions (and others) and implement marketing and sales programs to address these challenges, we will not be well positioned to serve ourselves a fast-growing slice of a slowly growing pie.
Who wants a bigger piece?