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Putting Solution Provider Profitability on Auto Drive: Myth or Reality?

By: Melissa Borza

Digital transformation profitability: more than new technologies

Information technology is enabling the digital world and Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are undergoing major transformations to become leading providers of customer-focused, digital services. Large and small enterprises, too, are taking digital transformation journeys to increase efficiency and focus on their customers. To help enterprises become digital, CSPs and other solution providers, such as resellers and systems integrators, are working with their enterprise customers to determine transformation requirements and then provide the needed IT services and solutions, which are typically complex, multivendor “design to order” solutions.

It is a daunting task to create these complex IT solutions, but CSP senior management and procurement face an even more important challenge—to optimize deal profitability and manage their supply chain. Today, if any deal profitability analyses are done at all, they are time-consuming manual, spreadsheet-based processes that piece together ever-changing order and compliance criteria from numerous data sources. Throughout the pre- to post-sales lifecycle the processes are arduous, unsystematic, and therefore error-prone.

Enterprise customers are expected to be a larger source of CSP revenue than consumers, but sales methods that don’t scale will kill profitability. What’s needed is a systematic, i.e., “productized” approach to sales enablement and deal management—from lead to quote to order to installation—with a laser-sharp focus on profit acceleration.

A cloud-based ecosystem for scalable sales enablement

To productize the presales and sales processes, CSPs need to take a holistic approach across the entire sales lifecycle. IT network design functions as well as sales and business management functions need to be integrated into a comprehensive and coordinated whole—a cloud-based sales ecosystem.

The sales process needs to be repeatable, efficient, accurate, and faster. It can’t rely on knowledge in the minds of individual designers or sales people. Through the use of automation, prescriptive analytics, and collaboration, sales team business processes can be transformed to make scalability and productivity improvements a reality.

Instead of IT solution designs being created and stored on individual desktops, a cloud-based ecosystem enables design projects to be shared across the sales team, making it easy for specialists to contribute as needed. When all projects reside in the cloud, business and sales managers can analyze overall team performance, summarize deals across the organization, and automatically influence sales behavior through best practices. The result is a sales process that is dynamic, automated, and scalable.

The sales ecosystem

In the sales ecosystem, data are gathered from vendor sources and from the solution provider’s proprietary intellectual property, such as salesforce.com or professional services pricing. Analytics are applied and the results are made available to multiple parts of the sales organization.

The process makes use of a wealth of up-to-date vendor pricing, configuration, and promotions data in multiple vendor systems. Instead of querying all these vendor systems to gather the data, the data is gathered systematically and accessible by the organization via the ecosystem.

Sales and design projects are stored in a centralized repository in the cloud and can be shared efficiently across the sales organization throughout the sales lifecycle, from opportunity to quote to post-sale analysis and channel management. This consolidated infrastructure coordinates workflows and analysis – in real time – across sales applications and content as well as with a larger ecosystem of systems, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

By applying analytical tools to vendor data as well as internal data on projects, services, and deals, powerful business insights can be uncovered and shown in “single-pane-of-glass” dashboards that include alerts with visibility into prescribed actions that will increase profitability and enable management to stay on top of the business.



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