The Hidden Power of Data in Enterprise Technology Sales
By Jamil King, Director of U.S. Mobility Channel, Panasonic Connect
Data is the driving force behind technological advancements across industries. It is the new storyteller and fortuneteller of organizational success, providing an accurate depiction of the past and present, and offering insight into future business and consumer trends. Adoption rates of digital or digitally-enabled products increased in 2022, meaning organizations now have more ways to gather and analyze data to influence strategic and financial decisions. Organizations recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Great Resignation crave the insights that data provides. Today, one missed opportunity for technology innovation could mean the difference between a booming or sinking business. In fact, 60% of executives surveyed by the IBM Institute for Business Value said that they are dramatically accelerating their company’s digital transformation.
As a result, channel partners, including managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs), can use predictive modeling to analyze their customers’ hardware and software needs and provide solutions based on data insights. Predictive modeling helps channel partners analyze operational and sales data to better understand a customer’s current technology landscape and identify opportunities for improvement. The channel can also use predictive modeling to analyze performance data to avoid hardware and software disruptions and costly downtime. By integrating predictive modeling into sales, distribution, and maintenance, MSPs and VARs can combine their experience with data for customer-centric, holistic solution deployment and management.
Use data to understand customer needs and build trust
Enterprise technology customers turn to channel partners for their expertise and unique perspectives on technology integration. Before a business buys a hardware or software solution, they want to know that the offering will meet the needs of all their key stakeholders. Digital transformation has expanded technology stakeholders beyond IT departments into the line of business. Now, onsite workers, managers, the C-suite, and more rely on digital tools to get their job done. To facilitate a positive relationship, channel partners need to bring data-informed recommendations and demonstrate best practices to customers. This lets customers consider their channel partner as a trusted advisor, and feel confident that they are receiving the best possible solutions to help their business evolve.
Channel partners can also use predictive modeling to bundle compatible solution offerings rather than recommending disparate pieces of technology. Offering a holistic technology ecosystem makes it easier for customers to implement sustainable hardware and software solutions and helps to streamline ownership of that process evolution. It also builds trust between a customer and channel partners because it shows that channel partners prioritize customer satisfaction and real results over their bottom line. With predictive modeling, MSPs and VARs can present customers with solutions that meet current and future needs while also increasing efficiency and minimizing cost. For example, if a warehouse operator is looking for technology solutions to improve efficiency, predictive modeling can identify current and potential gaps in workflows and uncover opportunities for greater efficiency. Channel partners can then offer a solution that meets several needs simultaneously—such as connected and customizable rugged devices to track and optimize inbound and departing shipments while monitoring current inventory.
Create simple, digital management and maintenance services
The customer-channel partner relationship does not stop after deployment. Once a customer integrates a new hardware or software solution, MSPs and VARs need to track device health and potential hardware and software upgrades. Additionally, in mission-critical industries—such as the public sector, law enforcement, or utilities—delayed upgrades or maintenance could affect workers’ ability to keep our communities connected and safe. By providing the customer with real-time device health updates and forecasting for future hardware and software needs, an MSP’s and VAR’s predictive modeling can fill this gap and improve the device and software management and maintenance process.
Enterprise technology customers now crave a simple, highly personalized maintenance experience after deploying new hardware and software solutions. With so many digital options available, decision-makers are more likely to take their business elsewhere if a channel partner is not providing a convenient and personalized experience compared to competitors. Digital tools as simple as partner portals facilitate seamless communication between customers, MSPs, and VARs, and allow for simple and timely assistance for tech issues that might arise or to communicate easily with their IT partners. For example, using predictive modeling, a VAR may know its utility customer will need to upgrade to the latest rugged laptops right before hurricane season. To minimize delays, the VAR could use a partner portal to confirm available devices and communicate with the customer to deliver new devices before potential crises occur. This quick, digital management could affect whether or not critical, time-sensitive industries can meet their goals and keep communities safe.
Continue customer-first innovation
Predictive modeling can help channel partners optimize operations, identify new markets, anticipate the impact of external events, develop new solutions, and, most importantly, improve customer satisfaction. By using sales and operational data to feed predictive models, channel partners can often anticipate customer needs before they happen. In addition, with predictive modeling, MSPs and VARs can provide customers with the best possible technology recommendations and continued support after implementation. As digital transformation across industries continues, enterprise technology customers will need channel partners who constantly innovate and deploy new data-driven sales and management methods. In turn, enterprise customers will experience benefits beyond just hardware and software. They’ll view MSPs and VARs as trusted advisors who are innovative, data-driven, and an extension of their in-house IT teams, fully qualified to support future investments for a more connected and effective enterprise.