As a consulting firm, we see many of our clients “going IAAS. From data centers, resellers, network providers to larger workplace providers, all have established, or are in the process of establishing, an IAAS service. Recently, more and more IT resellers have been developing an IAAS service alongside their traditional projects and hardware business. This is not illogical either. The public cloud has been growing for years and there is the promise of the growth of private clouds. That market is also growing, just nowhere near the expectations outlined each year.
Setting up and delivering IaaS
So the fact that many IT companies in the Netherlands are setting up and wanting to sell IAAS services is certainly understandable. The market seems to be growing and the market demands it. And, without simplifying it, setting up an IAAS service is technically doable. The technology needed is easy to get from the market, and you can even choose to buy this from a party like Uniserver or other partner-focused providers. Therefore, technology is not the problem with the IAAS service. The challenges of operating and marketing an IAAS service are more complex.
In addition to the technology, if not in place, organisations must establish a service, supported by a service organisation. Services and guarantees (SLAs) must be described. As a result of services and guarantees, communication and relationships with customers also change. Freely translated, you get married to each other instead of a casual relationship, and that requires an adjustment. Both parties want to know in advance what they can get out of each other because they need to be sure what to expect in certain, as well as uncertain, times.
There is also a lot of organisational impact in the latter change. From an organisation with project turnover, turn into a monthly recurring turnover organisation. We always welcome this, but it impacts your cash flow and margins. The peace of mind in your revenue stream and value creation for your organisation are some very big benefits of this.
One of the most complex aspects of an IAAS service is marketing an IAAS service. Marketing and selling a service is many times more complex than selling technology or systems.
In terms of marketing, we often see IAAS vendors making the mistake of touting the functionality and appropriate benefits of this service. Fast, flexible, scalable, pay-per-use, reliable and so on. What companies can realise from their business perspective is often omitted.
In terms of sales, salespeople in this service are quickly focused on the offer, the quote, the deal. Features with pricing and service guarantees. In doing so, they step past why companies should actually want an IAAS service. We call this the inverted Sales Value Pyramid.
This leads to a market situation where most providers’ IAAS service offerings can be compared one-to-one. The distinction is minimal. It is hard for customers to see where the service now fits specifically for their type of organization or situation. The customer cannot see the forest for the trees. And can focus only on aspects such as lowest price or most certifications.
A more important consequence of this is also that many marketing campaigns and thus a lot of money is put into very generic, broad lead generation approaches. No focus, no specific value interpretation for customers, and no sense-of-urgency. A lot of money is being burned that way by IT providers, and certainly by the supporting big technology vendors.
Marketing a value-added service like IAAS is not easy, and has a number of logical steps. We use the following four steps in helping our IAAS customers go-to-market:
- 1. Who are you?
When marketing an IAAS service, it is very important to know exactly why you are doing it. What are your ambitions and motivations for this? It sounds trivial, but every good go-to-market strategy starts with your own basics. Your own DNA and identity also play an important role? In doing so, who is your ideal customer and where is it located?
- 2. What is the value of your service?
Next, you have to look at the value of your service, to your customers. This applies to three areas of focus; operational, technical and in terms of your customers’ business. What value does your service offer specifically to your customers? Accelerating his business, the agility of his organisation, or the basis to adopt new solutions like AI, Machine Learning or Robotics. Based on that combination, your ideal customer and the value you offer, you can position and market the service more uniquely.
- 3. Trigger your target audience with relevant value
This starts with creating awareness among your target audience based on current and relevant developments in that audience. To do so, find the themes that are going on within that target audience and how you bring value to them. From supply chain integration, to an adoptable IAAS solution. Lead generation starts with an informational contact process to establish a stable, substantive relationship rather than a product-based loose-knit relationship. In this process, Sales also plays a crucial role.
- 4. Sales value
Sales, relative to selling projects or systems, must be much less deal-oriented, and much more value-creation-oriented. Why should a prospect want anything at all with IAAS, and why with you? Understanding and filling his explicit and latent need is much more important than wanting to explain how good your service is. And Sales must understand that a customer’s buying process for IAAS is long. You don’t usually get married after one day either.
The next step in IaaS
As experts in the service provider market, we are certainly excited that more and more companies are starting to sell IAAS services. For the market, this offers great value, on both sides of the IAAS relationship. As an example, you can take the current equipment delivery times of sometimes up to 300 days! IAAS represents a direct solution.
IAAS can be the technical foundation of many organisations, providing them with a foundation to continue to grow and act. Whereas the data center was the first to form that foundation years ago, that is now shifting upward to the IAAS providers.
There are certainly opportunities in the market for (new) IAAS providers, but you have to know how to exploit them well. Want to know how to better market your IAAS services? We can help you. Start a dialogue and we’ll give the 1st tips for your situation right away .