Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time in airports, conference halls and boardrooms than at home, but the benefit to being on the road is that I get the opportunity to spend time with colleagues and partners. It’s an invaluable chance to hear the top-of-mind questions, issues, and challenges that matter most to our diverse ecosystem of partners.
While every situation is unique, I’ve started seeing some common themes emerge as companies work to deploy solutions in an increasingly complex, data-centric world. Here are just a few of them:
What’s the difference between the “packages” we sold in the past and today’s “solutions”?
What defines a solution has changed a lot over the last few years. A solution used to describe a finished system like a server, but that’s just not what customers see as a “solution” anymore.
Today, a solution typically includes hardware, software and services in varying combinations but is increasingly designed to solve a very specific business challenge that a customer is facing. For example, a solution to help a city reduce energy consumption using smart devices could be entirely led by the services side of the business, where an AI solution to drive predictive maintenance for reduced downtime might be led by a software or hardware vendor.
For every customer engagement, delivering a solution requires you to:
- Focus on the outcomes: Understand what outcome the company, industry or entity (such as a government, a school or a hospital) is looking to achieve, then focus on how to help get them there. It’s not about the technology per se, it’s about working backwards from the outcome to identify the technologies that will get them there.
- Build Bridges: In an increasingly complex world, we will need to bring together diverse skillsets and specialized expertise to deliver what our customers need.
- Deliver Customization: We’re moving away from an environment where we could develop an off-the-shelf solution that we could deploy time and time again. Today’s business challenges are highly complex and require increasingly highly customized solutions.
Collaboration at work: I was chatting with a partner recently about manufacturing line downtime caused by equipment failure that cost a customer millions. The Industrial IoT device manufacturer worked with a specialized software developer, and a cloud service to deploy an innovative preventative maintenance and equipment health solution with proactive alerts so repairs could be scheduled before a machine broke and shut the line down.
The pace of change is accelerating, and customers are increasingly looking to us (the channel) for guidance. How can we avoid missing out on emerging business opportunities?
There’s no doubt digital transformation is accelerating change at an unprecedented rate and the solutions we are deploying are becoming more and more complex.
It’s the complex nature of these solutions and the emerging technologies needed to support them that’s driving an era of unprecedented collaboration. In the past, a company might have been viewed as a competitor, and now they’re becoming important collaboration partners.
Today’s business environment is moving so quickly, we need a dynamic, real-time platform to connect experts together, and that was one of the driving forces behind the Intel® Solutions Marketplace. We wanted to create a platform to help partners explore new points of collaboration, showcase innovative offerings and help grow new business.
We believe that collaboration and innovation go hand in hand, and we’ve made facilitating those collaborations a priority. At the same time, investing in training and upskilling internal staff, as I discussed in my last blog, will help companies keep pace with the rapidly changing technological and economic environment.
Healthy Collaborators: Caring for chronic health conditions is challenging for patients and their doctors so I was excited to hear about how one of our partners is using an innovative AI and analytics software solution that’s paired with a wearable device so medical professionals can monitor patients in real time. It’s a tangible example of technology improving care and saving lives.
Since we are deploying leading or cutting-edge solutions, how do we know if a new solution can scale to meet customer needs?
This is a really tough question. When you’re deploying solutions that are truly innovating and advancing the possibilities for technology, you can feel like you’re running through the woods alone; not knowing what’s around the next corner.
It can be a scary situation so it’s critical to know if your partner can walk the walk (and not just talk the talk). That’s why we ensured that solutions accepted for the Intel Solutions Marketplace have been vetted for quality and scalability. We want to know (and reassure partners) that solutions inside our marketplace ecosystem including Intel Solutions Marketplace, Intel® IoT Market Ready Solutions, and Intel® Select Solutions for the data center are proven to scale to meet the needs of today’s businesses.
The complexities of a data-centric world are creating significant shifts across our ecosystem. The companies that thrive are adaptable and willing to look beyond their walls to secure the best solutions for their customers. We can’t go it alone anymore. Collaboration is the key to the digital economy.