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Partners: Follow the CIO with Packaged Services

Two recent reports, taken together, provide valuable insight for those partners searching for their "angle" to focus their business and create packaged services.

A 2016 survey of CIOs confirmed the growing strategic role for IT leaders in their organizations. Those findings, combined with the latest release of the Modern Partner Series, which makes a strong case for packaged services, could guide partners as they choose where to specialize.

The call for partners to specialize is nothing new, but the drumbeat is getting louder. "Differentiate to Stand Out" is the second of the Modern Partner Series from IDC and Microsoft, and makes a convincing argument based on actual partner experience. For most partners, the challenge has always been in how to narrow in on the specialization that will deliver rewards quickly enough to justify the investment of time and resources.

While industry solutions used to be the primary path to specialization, partners are finding success with functional packaged services, as well. The "Differentiate to Stand Out" report recognizes the viability of building a service offering based on a business function. Partners can use their deep understanding of Microsoft technology and roadmaps to help customers improve the processes that will build strategic advantage. Improving customer service systems, building team collaboration sites, and centralizing business intelligence are just a few examples.

Since CIOs have long been the primary connector between partners and their customers, insight into their current challenges and priorities can help guide the choice and positioning of packaged services. To that end, "The Creative CIO" survey recently released by Harvey Nash and KPMG provides a banquet of food for thought.

Some of the top findings and how they could drive the selection and design of a packaged service offering include:

  • 57 percent of CIOs now sit on the executive board or senior leadership committee: Packaged service offerings need to be easy for non-technical decision makers to understand. Define the value of technology improvements in business-value terms to help the CIO explain it to the rest of the leadership team.

  • 67 percent of CIOs expect the strategic influence of the CIO role to grow in 2016: Packaged service offerings need to serve a strategic objective. The business-process improvements delivered should be linked to driving revenue, breaking into new markets or cutting costs.

  • 87 percent of companies are pursuing digital strategies: With insight into the Microsoft digital roadmaps, help your CIO clients plan for the future. Become the technical expert that the CIO depends on to figure out how to pursue their digital strategy.

  • The top three CIO priorities are increasing operational efficiency, improving business processes, and delivering consistent and stable IT performance to the business: By delivering packaged services with a clear connection to top priorities, it's much easier to make the business case to the CIO.

  • 50 percent of CIOs will increase investment in outsourcing this year, up 9 percent from 2015: There is no time to lose. Create packaged services based on the best possible information but don't over-analyze. You can adjust as you go.

Choosing a specialization is a big decision -- so big that too many partners simply avoid it. For those partners ready to narrow their focus, the CIO survey can be a starting place for conversations with your leadership team. The Modern Partner Series includes three more reports on marketing, operations and customer lifetime value that provide practical guidance on execution once you have made the decision. With these two sources in hand, and the summer months ahead, it seems like the perfect time to take on differentiating your business.

How have you approached specialization and packaged services? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on June 22, 2016