1 What was your greatest challenge in 2017?
I think there is still a fundamental misunderstanding of what reselling cloud services actually means. One of our greatest challenges continues to be educating the market, including resellers and partners, on the difference between simply selling a licensed version of Office365 and selling the full cloud-based solution. We still need to get across to the market the value that a reseller can bring to the cloud ecosystem, and I think this will continue through 2018.
2 What was your greatest achievement in 2017?
We’re proud to have gained some great industry recognition (e.g. Cloud Distributor of the Year at the CRN Awards), which we feel is a strong testament to the success we have experienced over the last 12 months. We have seen fantastic growth across our whole business and have managed to significantly improve customer satisfaction, which is hugely important to us, as our partners and resellers are the lifeblood of our business. We have also added several exciting new vendors to our solution portfolio, most recently Highlight, so we can continue to offer our resellers the full range of cloud services.
3 What were the key growth areas for you in 2017?
We set ourselves very ambitious targets at the end of 2016 in every area of the business, including sales, customer satisfaction, partner growth, even employee satisfaction. We were aiming to grow the entire business across a wide range of metrics, and we’re really pleased that we’ve achieved them.
4 Any lessons learned in 2017?
It’s never easy to improve a business across as many areas as we wanted to. Wasn’t it Jose Mourinho who said ‘no eggs – no omelettes’? You can grow sales, but this may come at the expense of margin, if it means having to offer incentives and discounts. That said, we’re incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved and wouldn’t do anything differently, despite the challenges we’ve faced.
5 What is your main focus for 2018?
To continue to grow our partner network. We are signing hundreds of new partners every month, and we want to increase this activity in 2018. We also want to enable all our partners, existing and new, to move towards cloud-focused business models by working with them on go-to-market strategies and technical support.
6 Reasons to be optimistic about 2018?
Adoption of cloud services is growing rapidly, and we’re really excited about how the subscription-based business model is changing the way cloud services are delivered. Typical 30-day terms mean that we, and our partners, must constantly offer the very best customer service or end users will vote with their feet and find another provider. This is a challenge, but with our focus on delivering the best customer service, we are confident we can achieve it.
7 Reasons to be fearful about 2018?
Price erosion. Service comes at a cost and partners need to make margin, but it may come to the point where less service-focused resellers can sell on price alone and not deliver what the end customer needs, for example by neglecting after-sales assistance and technical support. Customers are price conscious, so if resellers that sell cheap and don’t add the value of dedicated customer service enter the market, it could become increasingly challenging for those that prioritise top-quality customer support to compete.