Show me the money

Vendor financing can help bridge a gap for major projects or assist channel partners to transform their business models. But is the channel aware this option exists and what it entails?

The fast pace of technology evolution means that some of the major technology vendors, such as DELL EMC, Cisco, IBM and Lenovo, have developed financing options to support both partners and clients in completing projects and building businesses. These financing solutions have the potential to support the channel in its growth and expansion, but few know about the options, what they offer and how they actually benefit either the channel or its clients. Designed to assist channel, partner and vendor alike, these models ease off the cost throttle while engaging speed to market and investment into fresh and shiny new technology.

Dell Financial Services (DFS) has a broad range of financial options across PCs, storage and hyperconverged infrastructure. The models include full standard leasing, operating and finance leasing, residual-based leasing, and consumption models for capacity on demand that are geared towards dell’s storage platforms.

“We’ve structured finance around our software and we also build products around what’s needed in terms of product, structure and profile,” Says Patrick Bell, area finance manager, Africa region, DELL Financial Services. “we’ve also recently developed the ‘PC as a Service’ offering that incorporates all the value-adds we can bring to the product across servicing, maintenance, asset tracking and collection in a price per seat, per month.”

Lenovo launched Lenovo Financial Services (LFS) in 2014 in South Africa with the goal of providing corporates, government organisations, SMEs and consumers with access to lenovo products at affordable rates. The offering ensures customers get to deploy their cash wisely and think beyond the initial purchase decision. The company’s finance options cost less than those offered by banks and some internal funding options, and include subscription-based pricing models that bundle hardware, software and services into one monthly expense.

IBM global financing provides tailored, flexible financing solutions to both small and large businesses. The company was founded with the idea of delivering value to clients and giving them financing options that would help them mitigate the risks associated with investing into new technologies.

“Over just a few short years, cloud and cognitive computing solutions have transformed digital service delivery and helped unlock more value from data,” says Sandra Atkins-Sadler, CFO, IBM South Africa. “Technologies are destined to go obsolete ever more quickly – increasing pressure on organisations to balance both the need to maintain a competitive edge and manage budgets.”

Where’s the benefit?

The finance packages on offer from vendors vary dependent on market, customer and need, but overall, their goal is to benefit both the vendor and the channel. So, the question being asked is, how do these solutions assist the channel players and the clients?

“We help businesses to capture new opportunities and accelerate their transformation while protecting them from rapid obsolescence,” says Atkins-Sadler. “We look at the specific requirements of each business and offer them tailored, competitive rates and defer upfront payments when creating private, public or hybrid clouds or cognitive and analytics solutions. We enable businesses to conserve their cash as they acquire the cognitive and analytics solutions they need. We even finance new mobile initiatives and integrate social capabilities.”

Dell’s financing options are structured to help the channel take products to market, while leveraging financing to sell more effectively.

“We see our role as a sales enabler for ourselves, our community and the channel,” says Bell. “It helps the channel to sell product using the benefits we bring, protects their margin, and increases their sales and stickiness with the customer. It gives them a strong position from which they can show customers how they have a strategic relationship with us and can leverage it to benefit the customer.”

Funding transformation

Dell also has programmes that help the channel evolve into new roles and spaces. Many companies are looking to the service provider model – owning the technology and offering the services like a provider or integrator.

“The channel then becomes our customer,” adds Bell. “They take our products and offer them as a service to the customer. However, they don’t want to pay upfront and then wait for the revenue so our finance products help them drive that service within these constraints.”

Lenovo believes that its finance solutions lower the barrier to entry, giving channel players the opportunity to take advantage of shorter sales cycles supported by customised value offerings. This allows the channel to be more prepared and adaptable to customer challenges and demands. These subsidised finance options make the investment decision far easier.

Clients can maximise available budgets, deploy needed equipment immediately, maintain existing cashflow and rely less on in-house IT resources.
Technology’s rate of change remains central to the conversations around the vendor financing models on offer. These solutions are tailored to provide a foundation from which the channel can springboard new technologies and solutions while minimising risk. By enabling customers to acquire the right technology at the right time, the vendors are making the playing field more accessible for everyone, and, ultimately benefitting their own bottom line as much as that of the channel.

“We want our clients to be successful and work with them to optimise their cash flow. The idea with such a structure is to eliminate the traditional approach of purchasing major technology outright and then being forced to sweat the assets in order to ensure return on investment while being left behind by technology’s constant evolution,” concludes Atkins-Sadler. 
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