Cloud service providers (CSPs) are companies that specialize in delivering some, or multiple components of cloud computing —usually software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, or platform-as a-service — to their customers.
CSPs typically partner with vendors such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services, and specialize in adding value around these organizations’ public cloud services – providing consultation and training, and supporting onboarding, integration and optimization.
Successful CSPs make the large bulk of their profits through their value-add activities, using the margin they earn from the recurring revenue that comes from selling cloud services to (at the very minimum) cover their business costs.
CSPs are an integral part of a thriving and fast-evolving cloud market that’s expected to be worth US$623.3 billion in 2023.
We’ve taken a look at some of the most successful CSPs, and here are eight things they are doing to stand out from their peers.
1. Protecting Margins by Using Automated, Scalable Solutions
CSPs are starting to combine their separate business architectures into a common platform that enables them to procure, provision and manage their products and services, and the customer life-cycle, in one place.
By automating the buying experience, these CSPs are able to significantly cut their costs and operate at scale to beat the challenge of potentially lower margins.
2. They are Refining the Delivery of Subscription and Usage-based Services
Companies like Microsoft and Google are early leaders in offering subscription and usage-based services, and more vendors will follow suit. Leading CSPs have already foreseen this change and are in the process of setting up systems that can automate and streamline the management and delivery of these services, including handling their complex billing.
3. Leading CSPs are Resolving Cost Management Pains for Customers
Not only are the top providers implementing systems that fast-track the reconciliation of complex vendor costs. They are also empowering their enterprise customers to take control of their own accounts, giving them the ability to flex their services and subscriptions up and down according to their business needs. The latest CSP customer dashboards provide easy-to-understand displays of billing and usage and offer top-down views of what products and services are being used (or not) across an organization.
4. They are Using their Skilled Staff for Skilled Work
Automation is eliminating inefficient back office processes like manual billing, to free up CSP teams’ time to focus on higher value activities more suited to their level of skill and interest. Money saved through automation is also being invested in addressing the shortage of cloud IT expertise.
5. Top CSPs are Supporting Multi-Vendor Environments
As enterprises move more of their workloads to the cloud, they have become more comfortable with the idea of mixing and matching their services. As a result, top CSPs are supporting on-premise solutions and multi-vendor cloud environments. This means that they are steadily growing their product and service portfolios so they can target a much broader range of specialized customer needs.
6. They are Resolving Their Customers’ Shadow IT and Cloud Waste Challenges
A small but growing number of CSPs are implementing an architecture that enables their enterprise customers to, not only self-serve on a basic level, but also delegate the management of the procurement process across business units and projects while maintaining central oversight and control of all cloud spending. This CSP offer is helping a growing number of organizations to manage their shadow IT and cloud sprawl challenges.
7. Leading CSPs are Managing Scale AND Continuous Customer Relationships
Because automation is doing most of the heavy lifting, the top CSPs and their teams have more time on their hands. Robust CSP platforms can take care of everything on a transactional level and also collect and collate important and useful customer data along the way. This means that the customer experience can be improved as sales can easily dip into the platform to see what customers are doing and reach out to them at regular touch points to maintain, nurture and ingrain relationships.
8. The Top CSPs Have a Slick Sales Process
The top CSPs empower their sales team with the resources and information they need to service their customers quickly and efficiently. For example, easy access to up-to-date price lists for quick and accurate quoting, or offering sales the facility to set up trials for services on behalf of clients. Using the right tools, sales teams can even kickstart the onboarding process by creating customer accounts with vendors, taking some of the pressure off provisioning teams.