The Year of Acceleration: A Look Back at the Software-as-a-Service Adoption in 2021 Previous item PODCAST: Adapting to... Next item Cisco Intersight SaaS...

“The year 2021 was the year of acceleration,” Joe Vlajcic, Director of Customer Experience at TD SYNNEX told us. “We’re seeing a shift to software move faster than it ever has before and not only with IT vendors. Now we are seeing this adoption with the VAR community. Software-as-a-Service is here to stay.”

As part of our ongoing 2021 Reflection series, the EDGE360 editors recently connected with Vlajcic to get his thoughts on the big takeaways from the past year. Vlajcic, who has often talked to us about how the consumer adoption of a subscription-based model would transfer to the IT channel, emphasized that 2021 brought new opportunities for growth, specifically in terms of how software-as-a-service models have evolved across the Cisco channel.

At the start of the year, Vlajcic predicted that the industry would move away from reactive technology purchases toward a more strategic and simplistic approach. Twelve months later, Vlajcic sees a shift in demand for software and as-a-service solutions as customers seek more flexibility. Inherently, there is a major adjustment that the VAR community must make in turning to software services. The orders are smaller, Vlajcic explained, and there isn’t one big order that goes on a pallet. “I see it as a huge opportunity for partners to redirect their talents to more fruitful ventures like adoption and customization.”

In fact, it is customer demand that is really driving more flexible consumption, Vlajcic told us. “A lot of organizations learned during the pandemic that they need to be smarter about how and what they buy.” This shift also supports customers in asking vendors for simplified, flexible purchasing options.

Working hand-in-hand with the channel, Cisco has risen to the challenge and the demand in the market, Vlajcic explained. “Cisco has done a great job responding to customer preferences and revamping its portfolio top-to-bottom to offer everything as-a-service and complement that with better enablement, financing, and adoption resources.”

Now, partners can shift their approach to software sales. “Many partners built their businesses around traditional VAR services – design, integration, deployment, and support,” Vlajcic said. “Yet in a software-driven world, that opportunity has shifted. We see partners developing offerings around lifecycle management, programmability, customization, and outcome measurement. These new solutions are often much more profitable and stickier than legacy services,” he said.

To support partners along the way, the SYNNEX Comstor team has developed a software playbook for Cisco. “We talk with partners every day and share best practices for selling the right software, how to convert those sales into buying models like Enterprise Agreements, how to drive activation and extensibility with programs like DevNet, and how to create impactful outcomes for business.” While it is a very broad opportunity, Vlajcic explained that his team is starting to see a substantial investment from VARs who “want to be on the cutting edge.” 

In today’s software-driven world, “the partners who figure out how to drive more adoption and relevancy for their customers are going to be the big winners,” he concluded.