The Challenges of Implementing a Cloud Solution
Lessons from Introducing ArrowSphere into a Mature Distribution Business in the UK&I

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the transition to cloud platforms represented both an opportunity and a challenge for a mature distribution businesses like Arrow UK Ltd. For companies entrenched in the distribution of networking technology, storage systems, Unix systems, PCs, and security tools, integrating a sophisticated cloud platform like CloudSphere required navigating a complex web of operational, strategic, and cultural shifts. ArrowSphere, an ISO-certified, end-to-end cloud lifecycle management platform, offers capabilities to acquire, provision, manage, and scale multi cloud services, promising a transformative impact on partner businesses. However, the path to leveraging this platform was fraught with challenges that had to be adeptly managed to ensure success.

1. Legacy Systems and Infrastructure

Challenge:

Mature distribution businesses like Arrow ECS Ltd often operate on legacy systems and infrastructure. These systems, while reliable, may not be compatible with modern cloud technologies. The integration of ArrowSphere necessitates significant upgrades or even complete overhauls of existing IT infrastructure.

Solution:

A phased approach to integration can mitigate disruption. Start with non-critical systems to test compatibility and refine processes. This gradual transition allows the organisation to adapt incrementally, reducing the risk of operational downtime.

2. Cultural Resistance

Challenge:

The introduction of a new cloud platform often meets with resistance from employees accustomed to traditional ways of working. This cultural inertia can slow down adoption and reduce the effectiveness of the new technology.

Solution:

Investing in comprehensive training and change management programs is crucial. Highlighting the benefits of ArrowSphere, such as improved efficiency and scalability, can help in gaining employee buy-in. Regular workshops, feedback sessions, and clear communication from leadership can foster a more open and adaptive culture.

3. Skill Gap

Challenge:

The shift to cloud platforms requires a different set of skills than those traditionally found in distribution businesses. Existing IT staff may lack the expertise needed to manage and optimise cloud services effectively.

Solution:

Upskilling the existing workforce through targeted training programs is essential. Partnering with cloud experts for mentorship and leveraging ArrowSphere's resources for training can bridge the skill gap. Additionally, hiring new talent with cloud expertise can complement the current team.

4. Vendor Relationships

Challenge:

The success of ArrowSphere depended significantly on strong relationships with Tier 1 vendors and providers such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, VMware, and others. These relationships need to be carefully managed and nurtured to ensure smooth collaboration and integration.

Solution:

Establishing dedicated teams to manage these relationships can ensure focused and effective communication. Regular meetings, joint planning sessions, and collaborative projects can strengthen these partnerships. The creation of joint Go-To-Market (GTM) plans and co-branded initiatives can further solidify these relationships.

5. Channel Partner Engagement

Challenge:

Engaging with channel partners, including Global and Local Systems Integrators (GSI/SI), Service Providers (MSP/SP), ISVs, and Value-Added Resellers (VARs), is critical for the success of ArrowSphere. Ensuring that these partners are aligned with the new cloud strategy can be challenging.

Solution:

Developing a robust Cloud Enablement Programme can equip partners with the knowledge and tools needed to support and sell cloud solutions. Regular engagement through webinars, workshops, and strategic planning sessions can help in maintaining alignment and driving mutual success.

6. Direct Engagement with ArrowSphere Users

Challenge:

Direct engagement with end users to identify, design, sell, and support cloud deployments is a new domain for many traditional distribution businesses. This requires a shift from a product-centric approach to a solution-centric approach.

Solution:

Creating dedicated teams for customer engagement and support can ensure that end users receive the attention and expertise needed for successful cloud deployments. Utilising ArrowSphere’s capabilities to demonstrate clear value propositions to end users can drive adoption and satisfaction.

7. Strategic Alignment and Execution

Challenge:

Aligning the UK&I strategy with the broader EMEA and global cloud strategy of the distributor and its strategic partners is a complex task. This alignment is essential for ensuring coherence and leveraging global synergies.

Solution:

Regular coordination meetings and strategic planning sessions with EMEA and global teams can ensure alignment. Leveraging insights and best practices from other regions can help in refining and optimising the UK&I strategy.

Achieving Success

Despite these challenges, the introduction of ArrowSphere into the UK&I operations of a mature distribution business did drive significant growth and transformation. The results achieved by the person spearheading this effort, including over 175% YoY growth in cloud solutions revenue and margin from 2013 to 2017, demonstrating the potential for success. By carefully managing the integration process, addressing cultural and skill gaps, fostering strong vendor and partner relationships, and maintaining strategic alignment, the businesses navigated these challenges and harnessed the full potential of ArrowSphere.

The journey to cloud adoption was complex but rewarding. With careful planning, strategic execution, and continuous adaptation, this mature distribution businesses successfully transitioned to the cloud, driving growth and innovation in the ever-evolving technology landscape.

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