BLOG | APR 26, 2019
Starting from Scratch: How to Define Your XaaS Go-to-Market Strategy


Michael LeComte
Michael LeComte


Platform & product updates

From the floor of an event such as Cloud Summit X, with ISVs, service providers and others mingling and dealmaking for three days, it’s clearer than ever that cloud is here to stay. So how does someone looking to transform their business or enter the anything-as-a-service (XaaS) industry from scratch get started?

Eric Gitter, vice president of WW Strategic Business Development for CloudBlue, answered that question during the session “Designing Your XaaS Go-to-Market Strategy” at Cloud Summit X. He explored the different ways to define your business and strategically enter the market using CloudBlue, Ingram Micro’s proprietary cloud commerce platform.

A little background

From the outset, Gitter highlighted that XaaS means everything and nothing. “There’s not really one straight up answer of how you do it,” he said.

But he said that the as-a-service model has existed from the milk man delivering dairy to your door years ago through the Amazon subscriptions of today. Gitter gave some examples across history to demonstrate that “everything in business and life is cyclical; don’t reinvent the wheel every time you bring something new to market.”

Each business has a “core” proposition already—the IP, services or both. In our industry, the core usually includes devices, data/connectivity and managed services. Then “context” could be defined as soft services that include cloud, IaaS, security, MDM, BI/AI and IoT. Together, core and context make up the XaaS propositions that are taken to market.

The Business Model Canvas

He recommends using Alex Osterwalder’s 9-module Business Model Canvas™—business model in a box—that can help define your business and develop your go-to-market (GTM) strategy. 

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean startup template that works to either define a new business or to overlay on an existing business and see where gaps may exist. Its modules are key partners, key activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure and revenue streams.

5 steps to a solid GTM strategy

Step 1: Define customer segments, such as mass or niche market. The key is defining what value you create, such as convenience, performance or customization, and for whom.

Step 2: Define your channels or the ways customers want to be reached. If you’re bringing a new proposition to market in an existing business, look at the gap of how your customers would want to be reached for that proposition rather than how you reach them today. 

In this module, it’s vital to model your touch points for each of the five channel phases: awareness, evaluation, purchase, delivery and after sales. These five pieces make up where your business can capture or lose most of its value.

Step 3: Define what type of relationship each of your customers expects you to establish and maintain. Examples include personal assistance, dedicated personal assistance and self-service online.

“Unless it’s just convenience and price, they want some sort of relationship with you other than billing.”

—Eric Gitter, vice president of WW Strategic Business Development, CloudBlue

Step 4: Define which key activities come next, or ask what actions your value proposition requires in your distribution channels, customer relationships and revenue streams. The categories include production problem-solving, and whether your specific business resembles more of a platform or a network.

“You already know what you’re doing today, but you might need to look at…what are the skills, what are the people you need, what are the daily activities?” he said. 

To define key resources, you define your physical, intellectual (brand, patents, copyrights, data), human and financial resources. He used, as an example, Ingram Micro acquiring such brands as Ensim and Odin, necessitating the brand of CloudBlue to bring it all together under one new brand and business.

Key partners are defined as the key parties that are delivering something along the value chain, including suppliers such as a hardware creator. The motivations that should be defined for each partnership include optimization and economy, reduction of risk and uncertainty, and acquisition of particular resources and activities.

Step 5: Define the final two areas: 1) cost structure, including fixed/variable costs, economies of scale and economies of scope; and 2) revenue streams, including asset sales, usage fees, subscription fees, licensing, brokerage fees and advertising.

Using this as a guide, you can establish a new business model because as Gitter emphasized, “your core today is not just the products that you sell … [it’s] your relationships and your knowledge of the market.”

“The Business Model Canvas exercise will enable you to not just design a solid GTM strategy for your given XaaS initiative, but to have a very clear view of every important aspect that plays into this business initiative being successful.”

—Eric Gitter, vice president of WW Strategic Business Development, CloudBlue

To find out more about the GTM strategy using CloudBlue, read our “How to Map Your XaaS Go-to-Market Strategy” whitepaper.

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