Local resellers need to specialise – and generalise – in order to capitalise on digital transformation.
That’s the message from Audrey William, Frost & Sullivan Australia and New Zealand ICT head of research, who says creating vertical expertise, with a broader range of technical knowledge, is more important now than ever before for resellers.
“IT is playing a very important role in every single vertical,” William says. “Technology is transforming whole verticals like banking and mining.
“You’ve got all these technologies enabling new forms of how content is viewed, how content is stored in a particular location in the cloud, how mobile technologies are being used for field force workers, how big data and analytics are changing every division within a company,” she says.
“So to go and sell these solutions right now, the vertical approach has to become stronger.”
While William acknowledges that many resellers and system integrators are already moving into vertical specialisation, she says there is still work to be done and resellers and SIs must move quickly as companies increasingly look to digital transformation.
But with vertical specialisation, comes technology generalisation, with William noting that resellers will need to expand their focus to cover the entire suite of digital transformation offerings.
“If you look at the technology trends impacting the education sector, when you speak to universities and technology providers like Google, Cisco and Microsoft they talk about how technologies like big data and analytics are going to be very big across tertiary education; mobility is having a very important role, but also how virtual reality and augmented reality solutions will change the way teaching is done and how content will be delivered.”
William says many larger SIs have told Frost & Sullivan that when they pose a solution to a university, for example, they now have to look at al the various technologies and how new technologies like big data analytics, mobility, virtual reality solutions are going to change the way the university collaborates with students and within the university, in order to stand out from competitors.
“Having an end to end conversation and being able to go in and talk about all the different areas will really change the way you are perceived in the market.
“It will mean resellers and SIs win bigger contracts. At the end of the day, the end user would like to engage with one provider who can understand all these technologies, rather than working with advisors who provide advisory on a siloed basis.”
William says with that in mind, she expects continuing consolidation in the local markets, as larger SIs continue to acquire smaller companies to gain expertise to offer an end-to-end service.
“It is already happening right now. In AU NEC bought CSG, Telstra acquired some specialist integrators like MSC Mobility and Enterprise mobility, Dimension Data has acquired a couple of companies.
“There is nothing like a systems integrator who can understand all of these various topics and also has the right staff to implement the solution and take them on the journey.”
Key verticals; key technologies
Among the key verticals across Australia and New Zealand which William believes are ripe fo the picking are education, mining, oil and gas and financial services, where new ways of communicating with customers are coming to the fore – and new fintech companies are snapping at the heels of established players.
“It’s not just having a web site, but becoming more intelligent with very rich applications and platforms for consumers to do day to day banking.
“And then you stalk about smart payment or mobile payments, or making payments through wearable devices.
“All of these are trends that the banks themselves need to understand and capitalise on and then develop applications to ensure they are relevant to their consumers.”
William says more advanced customer service offerings are also providing a growth market for resellers as businesses utilise powerful web platforms and web chat with analytics and articifical intelligence on the back end to ensure customers are guided through the site and provided with a rich customer service experience.
“For resellers who are selling contact centre solutions, that is going to be a big area of opportunity for them.
“It is not just about selling the traditional voice solution for the call centre, or the traditional IVR systems. It is rich analytics, it is rich web chat platforms, real time chat, how do you make sure when a customer comes to the web site they get everything answered but have also had such a good customer experience that they leave the site wanting to buy something, without calling the call centre using voice technology.
“Today, many companies are on that journey. Amazon is one good example.”
Other growth areas William says resellers should see to capitalise on are big data analytics, mobility technologies – from mobile device management to mobile application management – and IoT.
“The internet of things is spoken about a lot.
“Today we have sensors nearly everywhere attached to different devices on to different platforms. But for a reseller it’s how do you actually then become a consultant, sort of a strategic advisor, to then say when you go to this mining company or educational institution ‘we understand all of these technologies and we are going to put these things together to help you move to that next level of digital transformation’.
“It is all interrelated: analytics , mobility and the internet of things.”
She cites the example of a lift company using IoT and analytics to maintain and understand when lifts are going to break down and when parts need to be replaced.
“All of that is a form of getting intelligence and predictive maintenance comes in how you predict the problem before it occurs and all that also ties into getting very intelligent analytics.
“That’s another big area resellers should look at capitalising on. If they want to have that conversation with some mining companies, oil and gas companies, definitely transport and logistics companies, the whole value chain of how analytics and IoT is playing a very important role there.”