Channel “over-promising and under-delivering”

Shaking hands

Too many channel firms are “over-promising and under-delivering” in a bid to win business, declared Nick Ewing, managing director of data centre and IT consultancy at Efficiency IT.

Ewing said he sees IT providers running into problems by claiming knowledge in areas that they don’t possess.

“We’ve picked up the pieces on four or five projects where customers have been promised the earth and [the partner] has been unable to fulfil,” he told Channel Pro at Schneider Electric’s ‘Life at the Edge’ event in Boston.

“There are so many organisations that will say they can do this, that and the other,” he said. “We work with customers where they’ve been promised something by partners, who often try to be all things to all men. The idea is to get as sticky as you can with the customer, and how do you do that? You do lots of stuff for them.”

Race to the bottom

Ewing also noted that there was a race to the bottom on price, with companies going into pitch for a contract “on very low margin, promising the earth and delivering very little”.

We see that a lot in the datacentre and power industries; over-promise and under-deliver is a really bad trait,” added Ewing, noting that Efficiency IT “sticks to a few core disciplines, things were actually very good at rather than being a jack of all trades, or a one-stop-shop”.

In his predictions for 2019, Forrester channel analyst Jay McBain has said that hyper-specialisation will form a key part of a modern partner ecosystem.

Ewing also highlighted the difficulty selling to those outside of the IT team, with tech purchasing decisions now coming from any department head within an organisation.

“It makes it difficult when you know you’re adding value that’s intangible, you can’t put a price on that. With a procurement person, that value doesn’t exist – it’s just a piece of paper with a number at the bottom. A finance person isn’t likely to give that a lot of credence; it’s about delivering cost savings and not about delivering value to the IT department.”

Efficiency IT, which attended the Schneider event with customer Wellcome Trust, has no office or physical infrastructure in a bid to “be as lean as we could”, with Ewing explaining that means there’s “no pressure” on the company to make a sale.

“If you’re forcing a customer to buy something, nine times out of ten, it’s not what the customer needs,” Ewing said. “By taking the pressure off the need to cover costs, you’re in a position where you can build more meaningful relationships with customers, which is so much more beneficial to both parties.”

Data centre trends

Ewing noted that while demand for large on-premise data centres or server rooms is waning, more organisations want smaller, more reliable edge IT environments. He believes that a hybrid model is the way forward, as there will still be a need for on-premise infrastructure in the future, and that “the cloud is not appropriate for everyone”.

The channel can help customers makes sense of what Ewing describes as a “new landscape” and then decide on what to migrate and what to place in a colocation space in a fashion that supports their company's business objectives.

The way edge is, and the way people are going to hybrid environments now, their reliance on that small comms room, the data centre, the server room – anywhere your comms environment is housed – that criticality is so much more important these days than what it was,” said Ewing.

Ewing also described the “massive weak spot” many organisations have in their tier 2 and 3 data centres, which the channel can help by managing and monitoring the environment.

“People are sweating assets now much more than they were, and they have no idea whether they have resiliency or redundancy. Is the equipment at its end of life? Is it too hot, too cold? Do we know if there’s a leak, a fire? There’s no visibility of anything like that,” explained Ewing. “We can use the technology to give them visibility and help them manage their environments.”

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.