Enterprise Cloud Services Abound, Go-to-Market Strategies Lag Behind

In today’s IT services market, customers have a bevy of enterprise cloud services to choose from, but clear and concise go-to-market strategies are few and far between.

I’m fortunate that in my role I get to hear, sometimes in the very early stages, what leading IT service providers are doing in the cloud. In fact, I bet I’ve participated in more than 25 cloud briefings over the past 12 months. Some good, some great and some I’d like to forget.

At this point in the evolution cloud, nearly all major IT service providers have an “as-a-Service” offering. Some are building their own infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms, some are building software and apps, and still others are building partnerships in order to create “stacks” of cloud services. Some are standardizing on a specific technology; some are embracing open standards.

The one key thing that, frankly, very few enterprise IT service providers seem to be doing well is this: clearly defining and articulating their go-to-market strategy. I can’t tell you how many briefings I’ve been in where the entire presentation is focused on the technology behind the service, with nary a mention of what the supplier is actually trying to sell, as well as how that supplier plans on doing it.

Here are a few of the questions I ask in briefing sessions to get a sense of whether the supplier has thought through its go-to-market approach.

  • What differentiates your cloud platform from your competition?
  • What are the key sales channels for your cloud offerings?
  • How do pursuit teams identify/prioritize cloud opportunities vs. traditional IT outsourcing (ITO) opportunities?
  • How do local delivery teams identify and raise cloud opportunities to pursuit teams?
  • How do existing customers incorporate cloud into their current ITO deals?

For me, these questions are just as important as learning about the service itself. If the provider has a crisp plan as to how it is going to market with these emerging services, that’s a good leading indicator that the provider has made a broad organizational commitment these new services — it’s not just something cobbled together by a single unit of the firm. It’s also a good indicator for buyers. If the IT provider has thought through these areas, it generally means that customers have a better chance of success using these new services, because the likelihood customers will be sold a set of services that they don’t need — or even more importantly, need, but can’t use, decreases.

My bet is that we’ll continue to see these go-to-market strategies for cloud services continue to mature, but — as usual — a small handful of providers already have this nailed and are way ahead of the pack. The next time you’re talking to your provider and are interested in that provider’s cloud platforms, ask them how they will work with you to incorporate cloud into your existing arrangement. If you get a crisp answer, that’s a great leading indicator. If you get a blank look, it may be time to look elsewhere.

About the author

Stanton helps enterprise IT and sourcing leaders rationalize and capitalize on emerging technology opportunities in the context of the global sourcing industry. He brings extensive knowledge of today’s cloud and automation ecosystems, as well as other disruptive trends that are helping to shape and disrupt the business computing landscape. Stanton has been with ISG for more over a decade. During his tenure he has helped clients develop, negotiate and implement cloud infrastructure sourcing strategies, evaluate and select software-as-a-service platforms, identify and implement best-in-class service brokerage models, and assess how the emerging cloud master architecture can be leveraged for competitive advantage. Stanton has also guided a number of leading service providers in the development of next-generation cloud strategies. Stanton is a recognized industry expert, and has been quoted in CIOForbes and The Times of London. You can follow Stanton on Twitter: @stantonmjones.