Build deeper, richer relationships with deeper, richer data
Business problems today are complex. We’re no longer just selling a straightforward piece of software or a slightly faster server. The massive growth that we’ve seen in the amount of data that businesses use on a daily basis in order to make use of things like predictive analytics, AI and machine learning has encouraged the development of more complex offerings to help us effectively navigate these modern challenges.
In order to sell a solution, however, you need buy-in from more than just one person. You need to convince the IT department, line of business (LOB) and all of the stakeholders that would be involved in the defined use cases. You can’t just make a sale and move on to the next customer without any further consideration. Instead, you must become equally invested in the challenges and triumphs of the business.
You need to build a relationship. You need to have a data platform. But what is a data platform?
A new way of selling
When IBM announced IBM Cloud Pak for Data, IBM Business Partner Tech Data Corporation recognized that it isn’t just a piece of hardware or software; it is a data platform. It’s a solution, meaning you can’t just sell it by talking about cost cutting or compliance. You need to be able to articulate a clear cross-department, cross-process and cross-platform use case that makes sense and is relevant to a variety of stakeholders.
And to be effective in these discussions, you need a way to communicate that use case in a smart, efficient and effective way.
Initially, we made use of the existing assets and collateral that IBM had made available to us to promote IBM Cloud Pak for Data. We broadcasted how this cloud-native data and AI platform could help our customers drive cost savings and accelerate their digital transformation journeys.
But we quickly thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could get our hands on our own demo facility where we could actually show and demonstrate this solution — a place where we could make these use cases come alive beyond just being slideware?
In December 2019, we were given the opportunity to deploy an instance of IBM Cloud Pak for Data into our Tech Data Bracknell, UK data center. Currently there are three IBM Cloud Pak for Data demo locations in the region — an IBM lab in Montpelier, France, another IBM location in Krakow, Poland and ours.
At our Bracknell demo center, we have preloaded onto the IBM Cloud Pak for Data solution a number of industry accelerator demo assets with common use cases — predictive maintenance, 360-degree data views, customer churn, customer attrition and many more. Additionally, we use these vetted proof of concepts (PoCs) to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the platform.
Consider predictive maintenance. To manage a process like predictive maintenance, you are often looking at data that exists in several different places — asset databases, data lakes, ERP systems, Internet of Things (IoT) devices — everywhere throughout your enterprise.
With the data virtualization capability offered by IBM Cloud Pak for Data, we can integrate, govern and report against that information under a single pane of glass. Whether it’s a data scientist or business analyst or data engineer visiting the Bracknell demo center or accessing the platform remotely, we can demonstrate the information and reports they want to see all from the same place, from the same platform.
In addition to providing a demo facility for Business Partners, we have used the system to run PoCs for end users, hands-on labs, enablement sessions and bespoke training sessions. The ability to have a permanent resource to utilize has proved invaluable over the last 12 months, and we are convinced that this will only improve in 2021.
A new way of thinking
If you look at Tech Data as a whole, data and AI are the core part of our strategy going forward. When you talk about machine learning, when you talk about AI, you need well-structured data. Without it, you’re not going to get the answer you need, or you’re going to get an incomplete answer.
Returning to our predictive maintenance example, IBM Cloud Pak for Data doesn’t just help you simplify and streamline existing processes, but it can help create AI-aligned maintenance.
You can see how your processes are impacted by external information, like weather data. With AI, you can gain the ability to understand not just the prediction of when an asset might fail but when is the best time to repair it — when is the optimum time to shut down a particular plant or production line to minimize disruption across the whole enterprise. It moves you from thinking exclusively of maintenance as a particular point into an integrated part of your whole production process and value chain.
A new way of partnering
And we’re not restricted to just in-person demos at our Bracknell demo center — which would be very limiting right now – as our Business Partners can access the platform remotely. It is not just utilizing the system where Tech Data can help. We’re able to run enablement sessions, webinars, localized go-to-market campaigns and more.
We don’t just have a physical resource. We’ve built up a joint team with IBM, and we have weekly calls to discuss how we can increase our value to Business Partners and their clients across Europe. We’ve created an extended network of IBM Business Partners that is exploring all of the possibilities that this technology has to offer.
As part of this new network, we’re not just there to be reactive. We’re not just there to help other Business Partners with a specific opportunity, giving a quote for equipment or technical know-how.
We’re helping them build specific solutions around specific opportunities. We’re helping them strengthen their strategies over time. We’re building deeper, richer relationships with our partners thanks to deeper, richer data.