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Cloud insight

Wolfgang Ebermann, President of Insight EMEA, tells James Goulding what the global IT reseller is doing to help SMEs make the transition from an on-prem world to the cloud

Wolfgang Ebermann
Wolfgang Ebermann

For the last 30 years, global IT reseller and Fortune 500 company Insight has been engaging with IT departments, heads of procurement and business decision-makers and providing standardised software and hardware and related services of help organisations run their businesses more effectively through IT.

This approach has served the company well, but Wolfgang Ebermann, President of Insight EMEA, suggests that it no longer meets the needs of modern enterprises and small and medium sized businesses that are becoming disenchanted with the status quo.

“CFOs we speak to highlight that a big chunk of the IT budget – sometimes more than 90% – is spent just to keep the lights on in IT. They see IT as a cost sector rather than as a strategic asset helping them to drive the business outcomes of the future. We need to tackle that,” he said.

Ebermann says that, in particular, the IT industry needs to do more to help SMEs and enterprises address the four big challenges they face today:

1 To change how they engage with customers, for example through greater personalisation;

2 To modernise working methods to boost productivity e.g. by moving from email to social media and chat;

3 To digitise and automate business processes; and

4 To change the way products and services are delivered, for example to reflect the greater use of smartphones.

“We want to manage our business in accordance with our clients’ needs, which is why we have evolved our business model, from managing IT – supplying standard software and hardware – to transforming IT with intelligent IT solutions. We want to provide end-to-end solutions that modernise the way people work and, with that, increase workforce productivity and attract the next generation of talent,” he said.

One of the ways in which Insight is doing this is by helping its customers to make the switch to cloud solutions that don’t require on-premise equipment and costly on-site support.

“When you think about running IT today, you very often have a VAR who sets up your IT infrastructure on-premise and runs IT on your behalf. You pay for the set-up; you pay for the maintenance; and you pay for upgrades. It’s very capital and labour-intensive. That was the classic way of installing IT in SMEs. But as a small business you don’t want to invest in in-house IT skills or to employ a VAR with high labour costs. Going forward, you will want to run a smart IT infrastructure in the cloud, with a local datacentre or large global company like Microsoft or AWS building an IT infrastructure in the cloud and providing managed services and running that IT infrastructure on your behalf. The cloud lets you reduce costs and be more agile in scaling up capacity to meet your needs without having to make a big, upfront capital investment,” he said.

Modern working practices The cloud, suggests Ebermann, is also where businesses will find the solutions they need to transform their business processes and working practices.

“Our strong belief is that the digital age and the digitalisation of business is very much led by cloud innovation. Just consider the example of Microsoft Office 365. This isn’t based on email but supports a more modern way of working centred around unified communications and collaboration. Cloud solutions like this are easy to acquire and deploy without having an IT VAR reseller coming around and installing it on-prem,” he said.

To help SMEs make the transition to a cloud-based model, Insight has established a cloud marketplace where customers can fnd cloud solutions from vendor partners, such as Microsoft, as well as Insight’s own managed services and cloud migration services.

This has been the fastest growing part of Insight’s business over the last three years, in part because of its flexibility and customer-centric approach.

“As part of our cloud marketplace, we provide customers with consumption analytics as well as recommendations on how to optimise their usage of cloud services,” explained Ebermann. “We also give them the opportunity to buy all their cloud services on a subscription model, so they get one invoice on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, depending on their needs. As customers consume more and more cloud services, we aim to give them a one-stop shopping experience and a one-stop analytics experience and guidance around how they can optimise their costs in running cloud services.” Because not everyone will want to make the transition to cloud at the same rate, Insight supports a hybrid approach.

“There are businesses out there that still want to leverage their investment in the on-prem world. We support them in that but also help migrate them into a cloud datacentre of the future. That’s what we call ‘the hybrid cloud infrastructure path to success’. That is another intelligent solution offering that we have built over the last three years and that we are very successfully driving as part of our go to market strategy,” explained Ebermann.

Insight already generates more than 10% of its revenue from subscription services, professional services and managed services. This figure is only going to rise as it convinces more enterprises and SMEs that agile cloud solutions and a flexible opex model are the secret to business success now and in the future.

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