Innovative channel partner teams aren’t selling products, platforms and services. They present clients with the opportunity for innovation.
Customers have culture and knowledge gaps.
Customers wrestle with more than Big Data acquisition and utilization. They tussle with outmoded mindset and business processes.
Innovative channel partner teams recognize that customers layer big data capabilities over existing legacy corporate culture and legacy technology systems. Value from analytics insights often is sequestered in specific business units rather than communicated throughout the organization.
Your team changes this status quo equation by addressing client gaps in knowledge and culture.
Innovative channel partner teams address – upfront – the impact that IT (information technology) products, platforms and services have on their clients’ organizations. These teams offer additional resources to their customers to improve the transition towards becoming a data-driven organization.
Do Your Homework
A 2015 research paper from The Economist showcases findings from a 2014 survey of 362 executives on big data utilization in organizations. While I’ll be addressing specific insights, I recommend you read this paper in its entirety.
- Organizations initially buy technology and tools first. Then they try to retrofit: hiring the right talent and expertise to match big data capabilities. That is short-sighted planning.
- Only 25% of executives polled felt that employees can easily extract relevant insights from data. They are intimidated or lack skills and training.
- Then there is the 800-lb gorilla (who used to weigh 900 lbs). Upon realizing that #1 and #2 are hampering transition towards big data utilization, these organizations finally decide to tackle what they should have addressed first. Concurrently create a corporate culture in which all employees are comfortable accessing and applying data as a core business process.
The majority of companies polled first implement what they feel is easiest to do. They dismiss or table the cultural and business process factors because they are perceived to be daunting initiatives.
Yes, these factors are daunting. Yet ignoring them causes cultural resistance and process failure, which derail the impact of big data utilization.
That scenario is when innovative channel partner teams sell innovation.
Your focus? Create enlightened customer organizations that: 1) focus on architecting data-centric cultures while they 2) purchase big data software and analytics solutions while they 3) hire for expertise and 4) train to retrofit.
As an innovator, your channel partner team offers a consortia of resource consultants to affect organizational change (yes, Change).
Innovative Channel Partners focus on transition first, then transformation.
The Economist study found that when organizations are 100% data-centric, they tend to be more competitive, creative and innovative. More confident employees make more confident, informed decisions.
Innovative channel partner teams manage expectations of outcomes from big data utilization. Three key findings from The Economist study make great talking points with customers.
- 68% of data-driven organizations feel that they outperform their competitors compared to 40% of those not data-driven.
- 78% of corporate cultures in data-driven organizations perceive they are more creative and innovative compared with 37% of non-data driven organizations.
- 70% of data-driven organizations have business processes and cultural knowledge-sharing compared with 41% sharing in non-data driven organizations.
Be realistic: This impact does not happen overnight.
When you discuss transitioning your clients into becoming data-centric organizations, include the following three questions in your facilitated conversations. Invite more than the IT department or business unit leader to the table. Invite the 800-lb gorilla as well.
- How many of your customers’ employees do not understand how – or are intimidated by – the need to dig into data, going beyond the obvious and beyond the first layer of statistics?
- How many of your clients’ employees are confident enough in their own skill sets to develop a Data-driven Voice: to advocate to their management on behalf of their data-driven insights?
- How many of your clients’ corporate cultures focus on providing continuous training and education for their employees, to keep data skill sets and knowledge updated?
Guide your Clients.
Customers need guidance on how to extract, integrate and leverage Big Insights from Big Data utilization. They also need guidance on how these new IT capabilities impact their existing business models and corporate cultures.
Inject Innovation into your customer conversations. Clarify the impact your products, services and platforms will have on organizational culture, skill and knowledge gaps and existing business processes.
When selling for tomorrow and the future, set realistic expectations. Identify achievable business and cultural milestones. Impact your own channel partner team culture, composition and processes as well. It is a win-win strategy for “What’s Next?”
Babette N. Ten Haken builds innovative, productive and profitable teams focused on excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook on collaboration hacks, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.