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Improve Business Transformation Conversations: 11 Questions to Ask Your Customers

Stuart Oliver

Digital transformation is changing the business world fundamentally and quickly. As global economies and wealth profiles shift at the whim of world markets, how businesses are going to market is changing in virtually every country around the world. Increasingly, the speed and size of the change are creating clear winners and losers, and the results become apparent in a very short amount of time. The winning firms, winning cities, and winning industries are all clearly focused on transforming themselves into something that their customers or constituents are demanding. These businesses are focused on transforming to:

  • Enable new customer touchpoints. Use the full value of the customer experience.
  • Create innovative business opportunities. Expand revenue with new products, services, and offerings.
  • Optimize operations. Realize new operating models to reduce cost and respond faster.

Digital transformation is business transformation. Business transformation requires IT transformation, and hybrid multicloud infrastructure deployments are the heart and soul of real and effective IT transformation.

As a NetApp partner, the quality of your sellers’ business transformation conversations with your customers critically influences perceived partner/customer value. These conversations are key to positioning your sales organization as the “go to” trusted partner that enables enterprise business transformation. Our goal for this blog is to share some of the business transformation insights and potential questions that your sellers should consider adding to their day-to-day customer conversations.

High-Level Questions About Key Corporate Transformation Initiatives

Here are some of the high-level questions to consider asking:

  • What are your primary corporate transformation goals or initiatives?
  • How will these goals materially affect your overall business?
  • What is the status of your initiatives? Are they on track? Are they behind?
  • What actions could we take together to accelerate one or two critical transformation initiatives?

From an IT portfolio standpoint, we see business leaders leveraging sources of innovation regardless of where they exist. Increasingly, those sources of innovation are engineered solutions that are tightly integrated with both the biggest public clouds and on-premises private cloud infrastructures in a hybrid multicloud configuration. Almost any storage technology vendor can sell you a singular storage appliance, but the list of vendors that can deliver tightly integrated hybrid multicloud services shrinks drastically and rapidly to one.

Cloud and hybrid multicloud are transforming IT along many dimensions. When we use the word “cloud,” we mean a design pattern for IT: a set of operating principles and methodologies, not just a data center destination. Sure, the principles of cloud started in the consumer cloud. But those principles and an evolving set of technological capabilities relate far to the future of enterprise IT than most other things that we see.

Over the last 20 years, one of the common threads that we’ve seen in the evolution of IT is the focus on speed and improving time to value. And to achieve these goals, you’ve seen the principles of virtualization, standardization, simplification, and abstraction of resources become common components as technologies have been adopted across these two areas.

Asking About How Multicloud Is Transforming Your Customers’ IT

Here are some questions to consider asking about multicloud:

  • What is your data location strategy? Public cloud? Private cloud on the premises? Service provider data center? Colocation like Equinix?
  • How are you managing that data strategy across multiple venues?
  • Do your users want to consume your infrastructure as code?
  • As a technology partner to you (the customer), what can we do differently to better align our services to help guide your transformation efforts?
  •  In our relationship, what can we do to create additional value for you and help you speed up success?
  • How can we implement some of these collaborative efforts? What specific actions would be worth testing now?
  • Where are opportunities for us to influence new ways of working together or within other organizations inside your business?

We want to establish NetApp® and our channel partners as thought leaders for business outcomes, and to do so, we need to change the conversation together. A focus on digital transformation and hybrid multicloud moves the conversation away from a technology or product and toward a focus on business challenges and outcomes, which is what our mutual customers are looking for help with.

Hybrid multicloud services enable NetApp partners to have a cross-portfolio discussion that delivers a unique, unified, and cohesive cloud strategy to support an enterprise’s business transformation efforts. Only NetApp’s integrated cloud portfolio helps you deliver a cohesive hybrid multicloud and IT transformation value proposition to your customers.

Although there is no single right path for digital or business transformation, enterprises are leaning on their vendors and partners more often for guidance in their transformation efforts and specifically measuring the resulting business outcomes.

NetApp is the only data services company that delivers a fully integrated hybrid multicloud infrastructure solution in today’s technology market. As you build your enterprise business and IT transformation practices, take advantage of the tools and resources NetApp provides in this area, and work with your NetApp associates for help in improving the transformation discussion with your customers.  Learn more about why Private Cloud and hybrid is critical to improving your customer conversations. For sales and marketing resources, partners can login to the Partner Hub and download the NetApp HCI Partner Toolkit.

Stuart Oliver

Stuart is the Director of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Readiness team at NetApp. His primary role involves coordinating all channel strategy and readiness efforts that focus on the go to market success of NetApp’s channel partners globally. Prior to his current role, Stuart led all service provider go-to-market, product marketing and consulting helping provide market guidance on the productization, pricing and strategic positioning of their next generations infrastructure services. Stuart Oliver has been working at NetApp (formerly SolidFire) for over six years and prior to SolidFire/NetApp, spent a number of years in product marketing and product management at Hosting, a cloud and managed hosting services provider headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He has over 20 years’ experience working in executive I.T. Management, Product Management and Product Marketing roles. Stuart attended and graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the University of Denver in Denver Colorado.

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