Real-world lessons learned for Citrix Service Provider partners

Congratulations LightEdge Solutions!

Last week, LightEdge Solutions entered the hosted Citrix services market and, boy, did they do it right. I had the pleasure of not only attending, but helping support one the best-executed Citrix Service Provider partner launch events I’ve seen in my five years working in the Citrix Service Provider community.

When my team sits down with our partners who are building new Citrix-based hosted services, we put a lot of emphasis on planning how they will actually launch it to their customers and the market. The LightEdge launch serves as a great model for other partners to learn from as they think about their own go-to-market strategies.

Before I get into how the day unfolded, let me cover the actual news.

On April 15,2015 LightEdge announced officially joining the Citrix Service Provider program and the introduction of the new LightEdge Workplace Cloud.

LightEdge Workplace Cloud is a managed suite of hosted Citrix solutions designed to provide users with a seamless experience, enabling access to a secure mobile workspace from anywhere, on any device. It is a multi-tenant solution that is based on the Citrix Service Provider Reference Architecture for Microsoft CloudOS and leverages XenApp, XenDesktop, ShareFile and XenMobile. You can read more details about in the LightEdge press release but in a nutshell – a hosted workplace with an emphasis on apps and mobility. Now, back to the launch…

It starts with good planning

What made this launch (and relationship) successful? In my opinion, it came down to having a clear vision, early planning and a great team that was committed to executing the plan.

Engaged with Citrix early – LightEdge has traditionally been focused on data center services, infrastructure, cloud, networking and managed services. Just like Citrix and our customers, they recognized the growing importance of the application in an ever increasingly mobile world. Moreover, they needed to enable their customers to support demands for things like BYOD and secure mobile app access through hosted services. To that end, they engaged with the Citrix Service Provider team early in the process to validate the opportunity, understand the market trends, learn how to do this in scalable, multi-tenant design and perhaps most importantly, forge a strong relationship that would carry them through the next few quarters of implementation and execution.

Built an Executive Briefing Center – LightEdge was quick to recognize that a well-executed solution oriented demo is one of the best way to generate an “I want that” reaction from their customers. In fact, the team even visited one of our own EBCs so get firsthand exposure to what a typical EBC experience felt like.

Later, they used the new Hosted Workspaces Demo Guide for Citrix Service Provider Partners and Citrix Desktops-as-a-Service and Hosted Workspaces EBC Demo Video to help formulate their own demo flow and setup all of the devices. They even trained one of their employees to be the Chief Demo Officer to walk their customers through the demo.

Developed the go-to-market plan – Rather than treating go-to-market and launch planning as an afterthought, LightEdge put equal weight into this critical part of the overall strategy from the onset.

Once again, they engaged with the Citrix team for insights into best practices, ways in which Citrix could help cross-promote the launch and what marketing tools were available. Together, we identified that creating an in-person event was going to be a great way for them to personally launch the solution to their customers and walk them through the solution in the new EBC demo room.

LightEdge also took advantage of many of the turn-key marketing tools in the Citrix Service Provider Center of Excellence including the Press Release and Social Media Toolkit, Desktops-as-a-Service Messaging Guide and the Customizable Hosted Desktops and Workspaces Brochure.

Follow with perfect execution

Created some buzz – Everyone loves a surprise and the LightEdge team did a great job of piquing their customer’s interest with the event invitations. Rather than coming right out and saying what the event was about, they shared just enough insight into the day to ensure people wanted to come and see what was going to unfold. Needless to say, they far exceeded their original number of RSVPs they were hoping to get and had a standing room only turnout.

Ideal timing – The event was scheduled from 11 AM to 1 PM in the middle of the week, making it easy for everyone to attend. What amounted to basically a long lunch, people could still have a productive work day and it didn’t interfere with after hour personal commitments. And of course, nobody can turn down a free lunch. Plenty of excellent food and beverages where provided, ensuring everyone stayed to network and take turns going through the EBC demo.

High-impact keynote presentation – The day started with a short keynote presentation to get things started. The agenda covered all of the right topics for the day including:

  • Opening remarks and the new LightEdge Workplace Cloud announcement by Jeff Springborn, President and Chief Operating Officer
  • Citrix vision, strategy and how LightEdge is enabling hosted workspaces through our Citrix Service Provider program by yours truly
  • A closer look at the Workplace Cloud use case and business drivers by Chad Gustafson, Vice President of Professional Services
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Steve Miller, IT Manager from CIVCO Medical Solutions, an existing LightEdge customer who shared his thoughts on why their organization will be adopting Workplace Cloud.

Demos, demo and more demos – After the keynote, small groups were led into the EBC demo room to see Workplace Cloud first-hand. Hats off to Michael Brisbois, the Chief Demo Officer for giving the perfect demo countless times. What really made this work is that Michael made the demo story his own. He shared his own personal experiences using the solution, added some great humor and really captivated the audience with his contagious energy. I could tell by all of the head-nodding in the audience that they liked what they were seeing.

Inspiration for other Citrix Service Provider partners

While there is no single right way to launch a new hosted service, I hope other Citrix Service Providers who are planning to launch (or even re-launch) a hosted service can benefit from reading about this winning list of ingredients. After a successful launch event like this, I’m confident that the LightEdge account managers will have plenty of customers who are eager to learn more and I’m sure many will soon be back for their own one on one EBC sessions. In summary, what do I think made this successful?

  • Having a clear vision
  • Willingness to invest
  • Ability to execute
  • Commitment to marketing
  • Team dedication

What to know more?