Posts Tagged ‘saas’

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Future trends in Distribution services – Looking forward in 2018 & beyond

February 28, 2018

Having served the IT Channel for a decade and working with Manufacturers, Distributors and Resellers in over 60 Countries, channelcentral is well placed to observe Channel movements and trends. We recently contributed to the IT Europa Channel Predictions report, so we thought we’d share what we had to say:

Traditional IT buying and selling motions are under pressure to evolve.  Our Chief Strategy Officer, Greg Starks, believes that, “The lines between traditional upfront selling and Device-As-A-Service/Software-As-A-Service will continue to blur. The channel [distribution] will offer hybrid financing that address selling upfront + As-A-Service together. This will allow partners and customers to visualize packaged As-A-Service offerings alongside financed custom solutions as a comprehensive OpEx payment timeline.” We hear manufacturers talking about Device-As-A-Service every week. We recognize the role that distribution now plays in the ‘As a Service’ IT procurement model and partners who engage closely with distribution will be more successful.

As-A-Service offerings will increasingly be seen as a way of ‘locking customers in’ and earning their loyalty.  Everything that is offered ‘As-A-Service’ needs to be validated, yet you still want to give your customers choice and not be too prescriptive. Packaging/bundling up an ever-wider number of products, whilst managing your customers’ journey and still offering them choice, will create a need for more sophisticated eCommerce sites that have integrated Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. Without this, the management of these offerings is extremely resource intensive. Traditionally, distributors have had to assist customers with their hardware configurations or ask them to click out to hosted CPQ software.

There is still a time and a place for this level of complexity but we will be seeing a shift in the market. Already, hosted CPQ Software has an ever-growing number of attach options to fulfil the ‘As-A-Service’ model but what if Partners can leverage their offerings even more easily than that? Greg Starks, thinks that “Manufacturers and Distributors will invest in point solutions to bring just enough CPQ Software into self-service IT buying. Beyond just configuration, tools that help to shape demand toward the high-confidence products that can be delivered immediately.” These are likely to be served as ‘plug-ins’ to eCommerce systems with full basket integration.

As distribution advances its capability to aggregate their breadth of suppliers into packaged “As-A-Service” offerings, smart Partners can take new, more appealing sales propositions to their customers. In the Noughties End Users would reach out to their resellers when they had CapEx available to spend on a specific project. If a Reseller won a €2m deal one year they’d be expected to win one next year and the year after. How do you resource that? Fast forward to now and that’s now OpEx spread over several years.
As-a-Service is not just about predictability of revenue and removing barriers to driving new IT projects there are other advantages including:

1. Partners become strategic to their End User as they sign long-term contracts to provide IT Cloud or Infrastructure projects based on a Managed Service.

2. Distributors now represent hardware, software, services, finance and cloud vendors making the choice of solutions near infinite. Partners can guide end users to truly optimized solutions.

3. Partners (usually) bill the customer monthly and that’s a good thing – consistent interaction with a customer gives Sales opportunities to engage, seek feedback on the effectiveness of the solution and identify new opportunities.

4. Software-As-A-Service is incredibly easy to audit versus traditional licenses ensuring the End User is compliant but also the sales opportunity is maximized. Businesses without full “license” compliance equals a lost revenue opportunity as well as a risk to their business.

5. Working indexing into contracts means that margin is protected over the term (example would be linking the price to the Retail Price Index or similar).

6. There’s such a great opportunity for partners to differentiate here and that means less price comparison.

7. End-users need help. Yes, commodity resellers sell servers and over time similar companies will use technology to improve that experience, but partners are best placed to recommend solutions.

Do you need help implementing your As-A-Service business model? We can certainly assist. Just contact us for an informal discussion. We’d be glad to offer you advice.

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Ever wondered what CPQ integration looks like?

March 2, 2016

channelcentral CPQ Ecosystem

For those that are new to Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tools it can be hard to understand what an integration could look like and how it can work for your business.

The following diagram shows a typical CPQ integration for one of our customers. channelcentral offer the Software as a Service (SAAS) to their customer (CPQ Host) so they can make their sales processes more efficient. For those customers that would like to gain maximum efficiencies, the service is extended to their customers (CPQ Consumer) through webstore integrations. The CPQ tool suddenly becomes very powerful as it has B2B and B2C functionality to open up your market and provide real-time reporting. Whichever CPQ Service and level of integration is required, you can be assured of on-going channelcentral support and lifecycle management as part of your SAAS contract.

channelcentral CPQ Ecosystem

If you would like to learn more about how a CPQ tool could help you grow your business, contact us.

www.channelcentral.net/cpq

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New Feature in iCreate

July 2, 2015

Helping you Choose!

iCreate Help Me ChooseOur iCreate tool just got even better! The iCreate service is developed for Westcoast Distribution UK and is a Configure/ Price/ Quote tool for their HP Product Portfolio.

channelcentral have just released a new feature in the tool to help users create their perfect solution. The feature is called ‘Help Me Choose’. Once the user is logged into the tool they can select this new feature at any level from as early on as selecting the system type or product family through to individual models. Upon clicking ‘Help me Choose’ users will be presented with a number of criteria to select from. These options will act as a filter so that the user is then given the products that fit the criteria required. Not only will it significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to configure HP Solutions but it also enables less experienced sales staff to tackle complex customer requirements, freeing up your technical teams to support customers.

Configuring an HP Solution has never been simpler! Just look out for this button next time you login. image

iCreate is developed for Westcoast Distribution by www.channelcentral.net

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What is CPQ?

May 19, 2015

Another acronym.

In the Software Development world, CPQ stands for Configure/ Price/ Quote.

For industries such as the IT Channel where Manufacturers, Distributors and Resellers have a set of complex products that can be built to customer requirements, a CPQ tool is revolutionary. A user of the tool can select their system, configure it with built-in validation rules for accuracy, check price and stock and quote their customer in record time.

Here are just some of the benefits of introducing a CPQ into your business:

  • Consistent approach to configuring and quoting so staff and customers have set expectations.
  • Improved accuracy – quote it Right, First Time!
  • Improved Security – Less risk of losing data as quotes are stored in the cloud.
  • Improved product information.
  • Instant growth in the number of quotations.
  • Reduced overheads.
  • Faster quote turnaround time.
  • Ability to quote anywhere either through your browser or a Smartphone App.
  • Increase in revenue!

A good example of a CPQ is iQuote which is developed for Hewlett Packard by channelcentral. It contains the entire HP Product Portfolio and is set-up as a fully managed service; or to introduce another acronym, SAAS (Software-as-a-Service). Take a look at iQuote in action for a great example of a CPQ!

If you would like to talk to channelcentral about developing a bespoke CPQ service for your business or just to ask how it may work in your business environment, contact us.

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channelcentral is a IT Europa Award Finalist!

March 18, 2015

EIT&SEA 2015 - Finalist LogoWith just one week to go until the Awards, we are delighted to announce that we are finalists in the European IT & Software Excellence Awards 2015!! On 25th March 2015 we will be waiting for the results to see if we win SaaS Solution of the year! Such an exciting time for the business and all our staff.

The entry to the Awards was based on one of our popular Configure/ Price/ Quote (CPQ) tools, iCreate.

Our iCreate tool was developed exclusively for Westcoast Distribution UK and has gone from strength to strength. It is a Solutions-led HP Workstation Configurator which contains pricing and quotation capabilities. It takes an intelligence-led selling approach for HP’s Workstation range, as well as some new additional product ranges. It helps Distributors and Resellers of HP to select their configured solution. iCreate is embedded within a Reseller’s eCommerce website for end users to access the tool, configure and place their order.

iCreate reduces the cost of sale by increasing efficiency, reduces delivery times and cuts down the level of knowledge required by the user. Unlike other CPQ tools, iCreate allows users to configure based on hardware platform or software application.

We will keep you posted on the news throughout the ceremony!

iCreate: Developed by www.channelcentral.net

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HP iQuote Distributor Benefits

December 3, 2014

A reminder for HP Authorized Distributors of some of the benefits of deploying HP iQuote.

  • Free up skilled resource to work on larger opportunities.
  • Fewer basic sales errors leading to returns (cost) and dissatisfaction.
  • Quicker Turn Around Time for Quotations.
  • Ease of business improvements allowing customers to self-quote.
  • Run more effective sales campaigns through SPIF and Banner Advertising functions.
  • Improve “Pitch Rate” to drive more Options Attach.
  • Show inventory to Sales/Customers to focus on moving inventory faster.
  • Stop paying staff/agencies to maintain Sales Cheat Sheets and Sales Tools.
  • Consistent tool across multiple HP Business Units/Products.

If you are interested in HP iQuote please visit http://www.hpiquote.net.

Developed by www.channelcentral.net

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channelcentral Smartphone App Services

September 29, 2014

Keeping businesses productive while on the move.

channelcentral is pleased to announce its Smartphone App Service. This exciting new product has been developed primarily for HP Partners that already use the popular channelcentral HP iQuote tool.
The Smartphone App Service offers the ability to quote validated, priced configurations for HP Solutions from any smart device without the need to open up a browser. The application works in both connected and standalone environments. Designed to increase both time-to-quote responsiveness, and increase revenues offering you and your customers the opportunity to provide qualified HP Configurations, with pricing and availability on the move.
All HP BTO Supply-chain Business Units are included in the application.

Key Features and Benefits of the Service:

Cloud-Ready
Quotes are saved locally and can be reloaded for editing. The Smartphone App is Cloud-ready: Simply associate the App with other applications such as HP iQuote and store your quotes in your account. Those quotes can then be opened and edited in HP iQuote via your desktop browser.

Fast & Flexible Configuration
The Smartphone App will help you find the best system for your needs. Once loaded it will provide a fully functional solution using pre-loaded defaults allowing customisation to cater for many common configurations. By using default settings it accelerates the process of delivering a quote, and exploits your smart phones intuitive interface to reach your goals with the fewest clicks and swipes.

• Maximise Revenue
The App is specifically designed to simplify the process of selling HP products and maximise revenue and margin on every sale by guiding you through an intuitive process of building a quote.

Quote Management
It’s easy to share your quotes with your contacts and customers by email or you can send to HP iQuote with the integrated HP iQuote upload function.

Hassle Free
Our fully managed service means that you don’t have to deal with the complexity of developing, hosting and offering Apps, including the detailed, varied and specific requirements of the App store owner.

How much will it cost you?

Smartphone App Services consists of a one-time-only set-up fee for creation, customisation, and completion of the App for your organisation, including making the App available in the three App stores.  This is supplemented by a quarterly subscription which provides for product lifecycle, stock pricing data, and maintenance services.
Smartphone App Services is customised to your own language, company branding (Logo and company colour scheme throughout), and uploaded by channelcentral into the three App Stores on your behalf.
Once the Smartphone App is created, YOU own the download revenue from the App Stores, should you decide you wish to apply a customer download fee for your Smartphone App.**
Distributors and Resellers can receive an on-going revenue from the Application should you choose to charge your customers download fees.
** Terms and Conditions apply.

How can you get the Smartphone App?

Smartphone App Service BrochureThe Smartphone App is developed and brought to you by channelcentral. If you are a Distributor or Reseller and would like to create your own Smartphone App contact sales@channelcentral.net for further information or for a free, no obligation discussion about how channelcentral can help you sell more HP solutions.

Download our Smartphone App Brochure for more information.