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Channel experts focus on technology, channel and business predictions for 2021

Channel experts focus on technology, channel and business predictions for 2021

AnalysisDigital TransformationIndustry ExpertThought LeadershipTop Stories

As we progress into the new year, there is hope on the horizon, with vaccines approved and in the process of being administered. But it will be some time before things return to normal and questions remain over which parts of the new COVID world will remain. A group of channel chiefs and experts explain what they think will be the top trends for 2021.

Matthieu Brignone, VP Global Partner Organisation, EMEA & LatAm, Pure Storage, thinks partners will shift from short-term fixes to helping modernise IT environments. He said: “As businesses were forced to switch their employees to remote working, there was understandably an immediate appetite for core IT commodities – demand for virtual private networks (VPNs), monitors and other peripherals sky-rocketed. But as we move into the year ahead, businesses will inevitably turn their attention towards technologies that will not just help them stay afloat but build a competitive edge.

“The channel has already proved its worth in the short-term but will now have to resume its role as a long-term strategic consultative partner – helping customers modernise their IT environment as the world adapts to new realities that are here to stay.”

Brignone believes that creativity will distinguish the leaders from the laggards, adding: “The Zoom model has exposed where vendors have lacked creativity in maintaining their relationships with partners during 2020. Among the various lockdowns, the channel has looked for its vendors to be energised, and traditional one-size-fits-all calls and video conversations simply do not fit the bill.

“Instead, creativity and motivation emerged through bespoke approaches to each individual relationship. Be it the gamification of sales targets or home-delivering branded goodies, partners need to feel valued, incentivised and supported to grow and exceed sales expectations in 2021.”

Johnny Carpenter, VP Sales EMEA at iland, said that while he thinks that employees will go back into offices to some degree, organisations will start to build everything around a remote site infrastructure and working practice.

He added: “A big change I see will concern channel partners as I think a lot of them are now going to have to move into a world where they weren’t necessarily well positioned before. Traditionally, partners were trusted by the end customer, particularly as a managed service provider (MSP), as they would sell the customer servers and local software and would manage it.

“However, organisations are now understanding their own capabilities and are questioning MSPs on how they can be more agile. Customers are now using things like Zoom, Webex and other remote collaboration tools, and financial directors and the CEOs of organisations are using all these technologies as well. That is now driving the conversations from the top down and I think the partners will now need to work smarter and have a greater understanding of these new technologies and new ways of delivering value to their customer base.”

He said that from a partner perspective as well, he thinks many more are turning to subscription and OPEX services to avoid the heavy bumps in the road that CAPEX services have been hit with this last year.

Carpenter added: “If I was to put in a nutshell how our most successful partners have managed to pivot it would be, ‘Train your team, educate your customers and make your services compensation neutral for cloud and on-premises’.”

Chris Martin, EMEA Channel Leader at A10 Networks, said that in the next 12 months, he believes we will see a period of consolidation and growth for the channel.

He said: “Every vendor should be looking at how they have adapted their working practices, both internally and with partners, especially during the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applying these reflections and any learnings should make for a far less turbulent year in 2021. In fact, most organisations have accelerated their Digital Transformation plans which has hopefully led to opportunity and growth for the channel.

“However, partners may have seen revenue decrease in traditional, mainstream technology as business requirements change. Therefore, partners should focus on developing new technologies and solutions for their customers that are suitable for a completely different way of working, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much an issue.”

Martin said that A10 Networks believes that the key growth areas will be cloud migration, addressing network security concerns, IoT proliferation and a lack of agility and visibility throughout the IT infrastructure.

Furthermore, the adoption of 5G will see the scope of partnerships change and adapt as it brings innovation and access to new revenue streams.
There will also be significant growth opportunities in vertical sectors going forward. This will result in vendors focusing on those partners who have specialist skills in these areas, in order to help develop the best customer solutions.

He added: “The organisations that capitalise on growth opportunities will be those who have already – or are in the process of – transitioning their businesses to remote operations.

“There are many threats associated with moving to a distributed environment. These include extended or unplanned downtime, data breaches and data loss, which can all cause reputational and financial harm. The channel is in the unique position of having access to the tools, people and support necessary to keep businesses, and more importantly, people, connected.

“Organisations that act as enablers for all channel parties to accelerate this shift will reap the rewards of a prosperous channel environment.”

Christian Alvarez, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels at Nutanix, said that we are in the midst of a significant, lasting transformation in how companies go to market and how customers procure and consume technology.

He said: “The disruption caused by the recent pandemic will accelerate the adoption of IT innovation at an unprecedented rate. This new normal will redefine how we do everything – from where we work to telemedicine, from education to e-trading and how data is securely accessed from anywhere at any time. In today’s subscription and consumption-based economy, the new buyer’s journey will continue to evolve and significantly change.

“Hybrid multi-cloud architectures will be even more essential for organisations to enable these rapid transitions and retain maximum agility. Partners which are at the front lines of these customer transformations will need to embrace the power of the cloud and cloud services, modernise legacy systems, move even more workloads to the cloud and optimise access to data in the new era of the enterprise being everywhere.

“Proliferation of ‘Everything- As-a-Service’ models will require partners to reinvent themselves in this new reality and adopt new economic business terms, to offer flexible consumption and subscription options for the customers of today and tomorrow. New heights in customer engagement, insights and telemetry will be powered by the combination of massive computing power, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and 5G being brought to market.”

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