Although every move of leading enterprise application and infrastructure vendors is strictly observed, their ecosystem partners pay less attention, even if they represent a larger cost than the revenues of the vendors. itself. Consider Salesforce, whose ecosystem according to IDC is worth five times the vendors ’own $ 26 billion annual revenue. But in the same week a year and a half ago that Salesforce shocked the tech world with its $ 28 billion acquisition of Slack, its $ 570m bid for consulting partner Acumen Solutions was barely mentioned. Even received less attention this March when it acquired Traction on Demand, the largest remaining pureplay Salesforce consultancy in North America.
One company that has noticed is Tercera, a boutique investment firm that specializes in supporting professional service companies that work with leading cloud vendors. This week it released some of its research to the wider world. Tercera 30 consists of three top 10 lists of cloud vendors that the company recognizes as having the most important ecosystem of services. Chris Barbin, founder and CEO of Tercera, believes it is a much -needed resource for entrepreneurs looking to develop consultancy in newly emerging cloud segments, recalling his own experience in the mid -2000s as CEO of pioneering cloud integrator Appirio. He says:
As we talk to many of the service entrepreneurs, they ask us, who do we think are the next technologies that are shaping or could shape additional training areas for them? – where we think vendors have a good ecosystem [and] potentially high services attached rates. And I remember, as a businessman in the days of Appirio, trying to fix that, and there was no powerful source. We are always anticipating emerging practices.
Top ecosystem opportunities
The new report aims to identify leading ecosystem opportunities around those ISVs that both have a strong need for professional service partners and are also trying to protect their partner ecosystem. There are three lists of ten each. The ten ‘market anchors’ have few surprises-these are the largest, publicly traded, cloud-oriented ISVs, including the three hyperscaler AWS, Google and Microsoft, the enterprise application bellwethers Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, ServiceNow and Workday, along with upcoming cloud data warehouse provider Snowflake. It was on the other two lists where Tercera had to use its judgment to pick the top names-not everyone would agree on the choice of where it reached. Barbin admits:
We want to try to be as scientific as possible. At the same time, it is difficult to be super scientific in private companies, as data may be limited.
Ten ‘market movers’ are publicly traded, fast -growing cloud ISVs such as Atlassian, Okta and Shopify, along with industry cloud players nCino and Veeva. The hardest choices are the private companies that make up the top ten ‘market challenges’, covering data intelligence, headless commerce and content, process management and workflow automation, low-code tooling and security. Since the primary criterion is the size and scope of the ecosystem partners of these companies, those with the largest valuation or revenue are not always undervalued. The choice is also limited to ISVs that Tercera considers part of what it calls the ‘third wave’ of cloud computing.
Success factors in cloud consulting
The report doesn’t take the next step and names the top consultancies in each of those ecosystems – which will hand out too much of Tercera’s own ‘secret sauce’, Barbin said. As a result, enterprise buyers are less interested in trying to select their consulting partner when implementing one of these upcoming cloud technologies. Instead I asked Barbin what advice he offers on professional services to entrepreneurs when setting out to develop a successful practice or start-up venture in the field. He emphasizes focus as the most important factor. As he explained:
Too many partners too fast can be a risk. As you reach some level of size-50-100, 100-200-you can afford to have a wider range of partnerships. But as we know, managing some of these ISV partnerships, that’s real work. Their sales reps are changing, they themselves have added new products and services. If you’re a $ 10 million business and you want to have five partnerships, honestly, that’s a red flag to us. If you’re a $ 50 million company, and you want to have two or three, that makes sense, but you also can’t have too many too quickly.
Building a relationship with the ISV is important, he says. Especially for a start-up business, it is best to focus on a specific segment of its target market. He explains:
Having an anchor, and really treating that as your main business offer, where you’re pretty much focused on one industry, a customer segment or two, and treating that ISV as a big customer, not just a partner.
As you search for companions, whether it’s Databricks or Hashicorp, you’ll choose one of them. Imagine, this is a $ 10-20 million account. How do I service that account? What are two or three things I will do for them? And don’t expand too fast. Many of these partners, they serve large enterprise, medium enterprise, small enterprise, they serve eight industries, in each geography. Choose one or two customer segments, one or two industries, and one or two geographies, usually one geography.
For established service businesses that are adding new expertise, his advice is to select an industry segment where the company can bring in existing expertise. He says:
Stay in your industry line, and maybe try to make complementary technology partner with your current partners. Don’t get too far away from that front.
And then the same rules apply, in the way of focus. Setting up specific targets, what does success look like? If I want a new skill, do I get a million in the first year or 10 million in the first year [look like] success? What does success look like for certification and training? How long does it take to add new people?
Companies also need to adapt to some of the emerging trends in the professional cloud services sector, such as finding resources near the coast, specifically in Latin America for US companies. As some client relationships become more lasting rather than just focused on executing work, some consultancies form co-innovation teams. He explains:
These are virtual teams, especially COVID-driven, where I need 6, 8, 10, 12 people, whether it’s program and communications managers, technologists, data scientists, engineers-a block of people helping an organization make a difference with these new technologies. They are more contracted not on a project, but on a retainer basis. Let’s take them for three months, let’s take them for six months, for 12 months.
That may be similar to a managed service relationship, but it’s different from the traditional staffing practice, where people just fill a seat for the client. These groups are more focused on developing skills. He explains;
The care and nourishment of that group is essential. It is continuing education, ensuring that they rotate into other interactions. What technologies do they need to learn over time to advance their careers … The services company should be really good about training, learning and development, continuing education, and keep it fresh for employee.
What I take
The ecosystem of services is a key factor in the success of emerging technologies, but is often neglected by the very ISVs that ultimately rely on an effective partner base. While Tercera clearly has a keen interest in promoting its research in this field, it positively sheds light on ISVs striving to grow a successful partner ecosystem, as well as highlighting the factors of success for companies providing valuable support to businesses deploying these emerging cloud technologies.