We believe that by 2016 45% of IT budgets will be devoted to IT cloud initiatives with 15% being devoted to public cloud. This shift in spending is accompanied by a shift in customer needs as well as changes in the way we engage with customers. To understand that better, IDC looked into customer preferences from a buy-side perspective. According to customers, there were 4 key requirements for their vendor preference (I am paraphrasing):

  1. The vendor must be flexible. 74% said that they required the solution to be moved back on premise if necessary (and presumably hybrid cloud feeds into this)
  2. 63% stated that they must have a single major cloud services provider for a more streamlined relationship
  3. 67% wanted comprehensive solutions from a single vendor
  4. And most importantly, 84% require an established relationship with a major vendor based on trust
These key requirements fit our cloud strategy…combining on premise, private, and public cloud with a rich ecosystem of Microsoft partners to deliver the cloud on our mutual customers’ terms. We are the only vendor out there with the goods to deliver what customers have said they want. The scenarios are vast and the permeations of hybrid cloud solutions seem endless. What is needed is a full stack to deliver on the various scenarios, and we believe that we have it along with the partners with the capability and expertise to bring that to life, and at scale. You’ve got to be ready to help your customers build a cloud on their terms.
 
The relationship model changes too. No longer are you only selling into the IT decision maker. The LOB executive, such as the CMO, is now buying more IT in the form of business solutions via OPEX and bypassing the IT department altogether. Selling to this customer requires you to shift into business vs. IT solutions while building on your unique domain expertize to help your customers solve their business problems first and foremost. This is a real door opener to new opportunities and new customers and a big reason why companies delivering in the cloud are winning so many new deals and growing in the white space.
 
We also have partners who are then using that new capability along with their traditional relationships and expertise with IT to build bridges with the business, increasing their status as a trusted advisor.
 
By better understanding what is driving these shifts in customer needs, you will improve your positioning in becoming the selected solutions provider and growing your business.
 
For more details, check out the full IDC study.