From the customer’s perspective software subscriptions, usage billing and licences are a dream. Simply sign up, begin to use, and get value. There are no upfront commitments, big capital outlays or risk. We now expect these consumption and procurement models inside and outside work. So helping partners do business profitably in the digital world is fundamental to our success as a distributor. Here Sam Paris, Westcon-Comstor Director of Renewals EMEA, and Dwight Pitter, Westcon-Comstor Vice President Customer Technology, give us their insights into why digital is a game changer for us and what it means for vendors, partners – and the future of distribution.

A digital definition

Sam: “Digital Distribution means three things. First, it’s the digital solutions from our vendors that we take to market: SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. Second, it’s the Digital Distribution Platform we’ve built to take them to market, through integration with vendor systems and customers, and the interoperability of the individual tools and technologies. We’re talking strong licence management and billing solutions for partners, and smoother operations through the supply chain.

“Third, it means digital enablement, not just procurement and provisioning. How we can help our partners succeed through things like online on-boarding, e-learning and data services. How we can enable them to grow in today’s digital world.”

Dwight: “For me Digital Distribution is about simplification. The mantra of ‘making the complex simple’ has always been fundamental for us at Westcon-Comstor, and it’s no different for digital. It’s how to simplify complexity, grow the business, and forge strong partnerships.”

Better together

Dwight: “It’s important that we support our vendors because, for digital transformation to be a success, we have to be integrated with their data and systems. From a user perspective, everything has to be seamless; but as no two vendors are the same, data integration can be a challenge.”

Sam: “We have to be in ‘lock step’ with all vendors as they develop new solutions to take them to market. There are significant challenges for the supply chain during the transition to the subscription economy, but we are leading from the front and defining best practice.”

A recurring theme

Dwight: “Aside from having a good product-market fit, maintaining high subscription renewal rates is the most important single success factor in a XaaS business. So it’s really important for us to be strong in renewals and there’s no other distributor who can compare with us – we have a renewals solution to be really proud of. Another strength is having all the pieces of the puzzle wired up, by which we mean the integration and interoperability of our applications.”

Sam: “Partners love our Renewals capabilities because vendors see them as critical to their future success, and we’re engaging with both in a way that’s unique in distribution.”

Dwight: “Our PartnerView portal provides a really compelling customer experience too, and we have further enhancements in the pipeline.”

Education, education, education

Dwight: “Partners see real value in our platform already, but they don’t always see our full capabilities. So we need to educate them and communicate what we can do, and not just in terms of procurement. Feedback is important too: what works and what more do they want from us?”

The next steps

Dwight: “Across the business, we are always improving performance and stability. On the vendor side, further integration means we are becoming an extension of their business. On the partner side, we are seeing greater adoption of our PartnerView portal, while the roll out of our BlueSky cloud business platform is gathering pace. Further enhancements are planned for BlueSky too so partners can manage all their software, cloud and virtual instances in one place.”

Sam: “In the next 2-3 years, 20-25% of our business will come from subscriptions, so we are making sure we can manage software subscriptions end to end in the same way we already do for vendor maintenance contracts.”