Node4 has been going through some significant changes this year, it has taken on some new investment and has been working hard to position itself as a go-to Channel company. Andrew Wilson, Director of Channel Sales, spoke to Comms Business to update the Channel on their strategy.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): You are 6 months into your role now? What were you looking to achieve coming into Node4?
Andrew Wilson (AW): It is going great! I joined the company because I saw a great opportunity to help an exciting business achieve its growth ambitions by working more closely with the channel. I haven’t been disappointed so far either by the business or the response from our channel partners. The people are great and the energy here feels like a breath of fresh air. I knew the company had great technical skills; but I can honestly say that I have been surprised by the breadth and depth of technology expertise in a single business.
CBM: What are your plans for the Channel right now, can you share your strategy?
AW: We see a wealth of market opportunity for Node4 and its partners right now. Our service portfolio is designed to help channel partners generate long term revenue streams with cloud services. We have valuable knowledge and experience of meeting the needs of the mid-market and the enterprise customer, as well as credentials and experience in the public sector. We can help our partners take their customers on a journey, with an end-to-end portfolio built around customers’ needs. We are not pursuing a one-size-fits-all strategy; a key strength is our in-house technical expertise which means that we can design solutions around customer needs.
All of this, together with the fact we have built our own infrastructure from the ground up, puts us in a unique position to provide businesses with solutions to their IT infrastructure challenges. Our partners can grow with us by giving their customers the technical innovation they need.
CBM: Where are the big problem areas/ risks facing the Channel
AW: We see three big challenges for the channel. First, is the need to help customers address the complexities of the cloud journey. Everyone is turning to the cloud now, but no business needs are ever the same. The channel needs to offer services built around customers’ individual needs rather than vendors’ feature sets. Our broad portfolio of cloud services offers our partners a ‘customer ready’ go to market option. For the customer, working with a single provider, that helps a business consume multiple cloud services, can be a very attractive option.
The second, equally important challenge, is security. The challenge here is to help customers manage an ever evolving threat landscape at an affordable cost. Businesses cannot afford to keep throwing money at the security problem and keep their fingers crossed behind their backs. Our Managed Security Service provides a monthly report pinpointing vulnerable areas, which is proving to become very popular with Finance Directors.
The third challenge is compliance and regulation. The current political uncertainty is not helping in this respect at all. It is clear that the UK is going to need to comply with EU legislation such as the GDPR. However, what remains unclear is whether there will be new UK legislation that will bring additional compliance headaches.
CBM: Are your competitors still the same as they were 3-5 years ago? What does digital transformation mean to you and how is Node4 adapting to it?
AW: As our portfolio has grown, so has the number of companies that are offering competing services. However, our key competitive advantage is our end-to-end service offering combined with our considerable in-house technical expertise and our problem-solving approach to customer challenges. We believe that there are very few companies who can offer this bespoke service and solution.
In terms of digital transformation, I think it comes down to helping our customers develop technology innovation that translates into competitive advantage. It is of course, not an easy journey to take because it involves deep cultural change within organisations. A key requirement though will be IT partners who can offer an agile approach to technology and I believe that Node4 is ideally, perhaps even uniquely qualified to meet that need.
CBM: What are your aspirations for the Channel in the future and how are Node4 going to help deliver that?
AW: We are an ambitious company with plans to double in size in the foreseeable future. The Channel will be crucial to achieving that ambition. We will continue to build on the momentum that we have generated so far, with an expanding proposition built around the needs of today’s channel partners and the customers they serve.