I recently had the privilege of talking with Lee Dutton, Group Sales Director at Misco UK for the launch episode of the new Schneider Electric IT Channels Perspectives podcast. We talked about the challenges experienced by IT partners during COVID-19, and how the mySchneider IT Solutions Provider Partner program has helped enable and support their business during that period.
It goes without saying there has been a massive disruption in the IT channel over the last 18 months. We’ve seen a wide variation in how partners have reacted, and how their businesses have been affected, but the good news is that Misco has come through what Lee describes as “a turbulent time”, with many new clients and seeing many new opportunities in the market.
“There was an initial rush to buy technology for home working, so a lot of client devices – laptops, screens, webcams,” he explained. “We found that many organisations looked outside of their existing supply chains, as stock was in very short supply. Misco acquired a large number of new clients through that period, and now having experienced our services, they have so far stayed with us. So we are trading with about three times the number of clients that we were a year ago.”
And while the first lockdown was difficult for Misco’s infrastructure business with many customers putting large CAPEX projects on hold, these projects were only delayed rather than cancelled. In fact, according to IDC, Digital Transformation investment is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% from 2020 to 2023, and is expected to approach a market valuation of $6.8 trillion (€5.6T) during that time.
“We’ve seen a big increase in our pipeline in areas such as hyperconverged infrastructure, hybrid cloud, security and VDI solutions as customers invest in updating their infrastructure to cope with a big increase in flexible and home working. We’ve also seen increased activity and interest around edge computing, driven by trends such as smart buildings and applications of IoT devices,” said Lee.
At Schneider Electric, we’re seeing the same positive movements among other partners, but we know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for our partner base. Channel organisations today require marketing and support with demand-generation support, alongside training, enablement and sales rewards. So as vendor, it’s on us to help them to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the channel, and to support them in identifying new growth strategies.
Working towards partner profitability
Lee and I discussed how Schneider Electric works with its partners to increase revenue. As a global leader in energy management and automation, we want to make it as simple, profitable and organic as possible for partners to support their customers and identify new opportunities.
This includes through tools we’ve been developing around with Alliance Partners like our Local Edge Configurator (LEC), including reference designs with pre-integrated solutions developed with Cisco and Dell and HPE. This, we believe, is something that enables our partners to work closely with customers, and where the customer can be confident that those solutions have been pre-validated, tested and optimised by both vendor to work seamlessly from the word, go.
“We see conversations regularly open up into much larger opportunities for other complementary vendors such as HP and Cisco for our hyperconverged portfolio,” agreed Lee.
In terms of other capabilities to drive partner growth, Schneider Electric also has an Opportunity Registration Program (ORP), which Lee said has really helped Misco maintain and increase its profitability.
Overall, the program enables partners to collaborate closely with Schneider Electric on end-user projects, while protecting both our partners margins and the valuable investments they make in pre-sales work to get these projects off the ground. It also provides discounts, meaning, quite simply, it’s there to increase the margin that a partner has going into those projects.
Lee said Misco sees a great benefit from the deal registration process. “Raising bids secures opportunities for us, giving us supportive pricing and protects our profitability on deals. The partner portal is also very easy to use, the most vendors have portals, but sometimes difficult to convince sales staff to use them. So ease-of-use is important. We find if they use the tools, they’re more likely to engage in the training and get a better understanding of the value that Schneider Electric and the APC™ brand brings to our customers.”
At Schneider Electric we know that enablement in education is not something that everybody associates with greater profit margins or revenue. But providing our partners with high level, valuable sales training on technologies and market trends in areas specific where we see growth is something that directly helps salespeople to win new business.
Then when there are less large-scale projects available, knowing you’ve got that learning ability to provide your people with the tools to go after smaller business opportunities directly reflects your ability to drive revenue.
The move towards remote monitoring, management and digital services has also become crucial during the last 18 months. Such strategies enable partners to provide greater value to their customers, to earn greater margins and build recurring revenue streams.
As such, we’re focusing our efforts on new launches such as our Managed Power Services, which leverages digital software solutions like our award winning, open and vendor-agnostic EcoStruxure IT™ management software. It enables our partners to gain greater visibility of distributed edge computing sites and support customers with remote monitoring, management and mission-critical maintenance services. Overall, making that transition to recurring revenue models a little bit easier.
If we look our partner program as a whole, there are five key pillars we believe are crucial to partner success: visibility, profitability, enablement, support and experience – making sure the program, the tools and the enablement strategies truly support the needs of partners every step of the way.
“Just being an accredited partner with Schneider Electric really gives our customers the confidence that they’re dealing with a trusted supplier,” said Lee.
As we look forward our ambition is to help channel partners grow sustainably, and that take a value-add and collaborative approach.
Supporting partner growth during a challenging year, with Misco can be accessed here.
To learn more about mySchneider IT Solutions Provider Partner program – visit the website.