The Channel Partners need to expand horizons
There is a strong believe on the channel partners will need to expand beyond their traditional role of being able to understand customers’ problems and find solutions to reduce risk and complexity while increasing revenues. “The evolving digital business landscape means customer challenges are changing, and partners now need to work with a variety of different solutions and platforms they haven’t traditionally worked with before to help address the problems of today’s digital age.
At the same time, the vendors need to accept they can no longer exist within their own technology bubble, but “are part of a much wider ecosystem”. They need to think beyond their own area of expertise. “It’s no longer just about working with partners, but also other vendors, in order to create ecosystem solutions that solve bigger customer issues in this digital age,” he argues. “Integration and specialisation mean everything to the modern customer, so working with other vendors is a must. As a result, we’ll see more integration and collaboration in the channel in the year ahead.”
The democratisation of business applications – in which smaller enterprises can access the same tools and solutions as larger firms – is driving this. Resellers need to be one step ahead of these accessible knowledge curves if they’re to offer added value back to customers”
He adds that scale “isn’t necessarily the answer. It used to be that the big ate the small – now, the fast eat the slow. Your relevance, proposition and speed of response will need to be on point to ensure survival in the democratised business jungle”.
However, there is a strong believe on the big danger for channel partners is complacency. “The UK high street is an example of a sector that lost touch with what its customers really wanted and couldn’t adapt fast enough – and it’s the same for the channel. Organisations can buy and deploy technology through the cloud quickly, easily and often directly with a vendor, but the role of the channel here is to understand the whole picture and how these individual jigsaw pieces can be glued together to create an optimised customer experience,” he comments. “Channels that are in a box-shift mind set will face a similar fate to that of some high street stores.”
Channel is ready for embrace change
Resellers that don’t embrace change will struggle to take advantage of new opportunities. The move away from a capex to an opex business model, the requirement to look for and service complementary technologies such as AV and IT, and the need to partner with specialist resellers or distributors that can offer additional services are key to growing business.
Partners who are not open to change will struggle as their current customers digitally transform and look for partners with service or consulting capabilities. Partners who do not embrace the importance of the partner ecosystem and collaboration will also lose out in 2020.
There are certain highlights the danger of what he dubs user "paralysis analysis as the tech disruptions are moving very fast”. To counter this, channel businesses “need to get ahead and lay out a roadmap that allows their customers to move towards a defined roadmap”.
There’s a danger they could “lose a customer to a next generation savvy channel partner, which is in tune with the customer’s changing needs and digital plans. This cuts across any technology area – security, networking, infrastructure, unified communications, or application development. There is a new norm coming which requires the channel to adopt it faster”.
Channel partners need to find ways to evolve their offerings for clients to make sure value is wrapped in everything that they do. Partners need to address their core business objectives and extend user reach to enhance engagement. “Competence, capability and commitment are all areas requiring focus.
Secondly, all channel businesses have at least one of these, so it’s about finding that balance and acknowledging where they fall short. This will allow them to undertake the next steps for growth. When it comes to the cybersecurity space, “keeping up with the flurry of M&A activity in the sector will challenge channel businesses to fully engage with vendor education programmes. If you’re not fully up to speed on how changes in vendor ownership might impact the products that your customers are using, you can bet that your competitor up the road will seem like a much more tempting proposition.
The ways solution providers and vendors leverage distribution will continue to cover an unprecedented scope in the coming year as well. Whereas, the core competencies of distribution provide services that are crucial for vendors and resellers in terms of operational excellence and financial support. Remaining relevant to customers, being agile and adaptable ensures that the distributor’s role remains even more important in today’s market”.
Experts says, the traditional distributors “will struggle to add value in 2020” because channel businesses are looking for something else. “Distributors who position themselves as a solution provider will fuel the channel more than traditional distributors. This will enable them to meet the growing demands of partners and, ultimately, users.