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Time to get your head in the cloud marketplace

Quocirca Director Louella Fernandes, argues that the print industry must acknowledge the power of platforms that digitally link business buyers and sellers as a key market disruptor 

Quocirca’s latest executive briefing: ‘The Rise of Cloud Marketplaces’ discusses the B2B and cloud marketplace opportunity for the office print ecosystem. The report draws on recent research covering 202 IT buyers in the UK and the US, provides recommendations on why print manufacturers should urgently evaluate partnership opportunities with the major hyperscale providers, how ISVs can capture more opportunities through cloud marketplaces, and how the channel can avoid being disintermediated from the marketplace opportunity. 

The rise of cloud marketplaces report explores the research findings, which clearly point to a rapid shift in B2B procurement from traditional sales methods to online channels such as cloud marketplaces. This, Louella argues, creates opportunities for the print industry to expand its reach to a wider cloud customer base. 

76 per cent of the IT buyers surveyed said they already use online cloud marketplaces, such as those on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform, while 55 per cent have also used B2B marketplaces such as Amazon Business.  In contrast, just 30 per cent use direct sales channels and only one quarter use a formal tender/RFP process.

“This has considerable implications for industries, such as the office print sector, that have so far relied on traditional channels and partnerships,” Louella said, adding: “The procurement process has fundamentally changed as the digital- native generation of IT decision-makers takes control. As the office technology industry looks to recover and remain relevant in the cloud-centric, post- pandemic world, manufacturers, ISVs and channel partners must participate in the cloud marketplace ecosystem.” 

Cloud adoption has surged 

The research highlighted that cloud adoption has surged. 70 per cent of organisations have increased cloud use and 88 per cent predict further growth in the next two years. Almost half of organisations expect their IT environment to be running fully in the cloud in 2023, up from just 15 per cent today. Importantly, a rise in cloud print adoption is boosting online procurement and buyers are developing a preference for cloud marketplaces over other channels. 62 per cent of buyers say they prefer to use cloud marketplaces to purchase cloud print and document workflow solutions, compared with 47 per cent who prefer to use an MSP and 46 per cent who prefer channel partners or direct vendor sales.  Over half (54 per cent) have already purchased cloud print and document workflow solutions via cloud marketplaces. This rises to 64 per cent among smaller organisations (500 to 999) employees. Overall, 44 per cent say they are very likely to purchase such solutions, and 38 per cent somewhat likely, via a cloud marketplace in the next two years. 

Another key finding was that smaller organisations have a stronger preference for marketplaces. Overall, 33 per cent of respondents cite simplified procurement as a key benefit of using a cloud marketplace. Smaller organisations currently have a stronger affinity for cloud marketplaces than larger (1000+ employees) enterprises. They are more likely to have already purchased through this channel across a range of software. They are also more likely in general to prefer e-commerce channels and online B2B marketplaces over conventional procurement processes such as tenders/RFPs. 

Unlock the opportunities 

As cloud marketplaces mature, they are beginning to offer consulting and professional services for customers, offering support for the deployment of solutions and throughout their lifecycle. 

“This represents an opportunity for channel partners to engage directly with customers and build relationships to support digital transformation programmes,” Louella said. “To advance digital transformation in the print sector and enable vendors to capitalise on the wider cloud market opportunity, OEMs must strategically collaborate and partner with hyperscale provider marketplaces. This will unlock opportunities for vendors to reach a wider market with both cloud print and wider digital workflow solutions – particularly within the SMB market but ultimately across the entire customer base. 

“Ultimately, cloud marketplaces can provide an opportunity for vendors across the value chain and means that MPS providers, ISVs and channel partners should collaborate to take advantage, expand reach and discover new revenue opportunities,” she concluded.