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Navigate to Greater Customer Value with an Icebreaker

Tom Saunders, Services, Software and Lifecycle Lead at Comstor, explains how Comstor Icebreaker Report can help resellers strengthen customer relationships and win more business

Tom Saunders
Tom Saunders

It’s commonly said that to add value resellers need to do more, to advise more, to see the bigger picture. Easy to say; not so easy to do.

To add future value requires an in-depth knowledge of a customer’s current systems, architectures and management processes. Knowing what is on the network, its age and its service cover status is invaluable when it comes to discussing future goals. However, putting a stake in the ground can be a lengthy and frequently unrewarding process.

Latest estimates show that 65% of customer networks aren’t running current software versions or have equipment with no, or inadequate, service contract cover, exposing them to security risks, business disruption and non-compliance.

This situation presents an enormous opportunity for resellers. Gain full install visibility and you can build greater customer value by introducing new services, reducing administration costs and ensuring customers manage risk and compliance better.

Comstor, in partnership with Cisco, provides this capability for resellers. It’s a swift, powerfully insightful and free service, and it’s called the Comstor Icebreaker report.

Insight and analytics
The report identifies every network component, its level of service cover, whether it’s the most appropriate option for the job it is doing, and whether the software it is running is current and compliant.

This insight provides a powerful basis on which to open conversations with customers. Knowing what the customer has on the network (including equipment they might not be aware of); ensuring every network component has the right level of cover to ensure optimal working; identifying upgrade opportunities; providing a firm platform of knowledge for any transition to a digital network – all offer a great value-add opportunity.

Customers cannot start to modernise to a digital business if the start point is a complex and tangled mess. Partners that iron this out deliver immediate value and, in the long-run, will benefit from incremental business.

The problem with service contracts
Icebreaker delivers immediate value to customers by highlighting where they need to get their house in order. One area that is often overlooked is the cost of administrating service contracts. Systems evolve and customers can change or use different reseller partners, resulting in layer upon layer of service contracts with a multitude of different contract numbers. This can lead to complexities in administration and, in some cases, the belief that a product is covered when in fact it isn’t.

Comstor’s experience of providing Icebreaker reports reinforces this point. Its analysis shows that 20% of products are near their Last Day of Support and 44% have no cover at all.

Aside from identifying service level gaps and anomalies that can present security risks, Icebreaker shows all the separate contract numbers, where they originated and who is nominally responsible for them from a reseller perspective.

If a reseller has sourced a service contract via a third-party, the customer can be invisible to Cisco, which can present all kinds of compliance and security consequences. By working with all parties, Cisco can merge everything into one contract, simplifying the management and refresh process.

Digital migration
Full visibility is also invaluable for starting conversations about digital migration strategies. An Icebreaker report might show that some network assets are so old and so overworked that now is the perfect time for a customer to switch to, say, newer Catalyst 9000 digital products as part of a software-defined, digital network migration journey. This way, customers can accelerate their ambition and resellers get a valuable upgrade sales opportunity and, in the process, cement stronger bonds with their customers.

The Comstor Icebreaker is a free service, but it offers enormous benefits to resellers that use it to ensure their customers have the right equipment with the right level of cover. One reseller unearthed so many previously hidden revenue opportunities from its use of Icebreaker that it secured an additional $275k of business in one quarter alone.

Or contact Tom Saunders directly at

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