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Editor’s Question: How can channel partners retain the right talent and bridge the IT skills gap?

Editor’s Question: How can channel partners retain the right talent and bridge the IT skills gap?

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The tech talent shortage has resellers in the channel scrambling to ensure that staff brush up on the latest skills and technologies that facilitate business agility. Industry pundits share tips on how channel partner organisations can retain the right talent and bridge the IT skills gap?


Prashant Menon, Channel Manager – UAE, Check Point Software Technologies.

Building skills and staying current with the latest is an ongoing process. Nurturing talent and empowering employees to actively develop throughout their tenure motivates and helps them to perform at their optimum levels. This, in turn, benefits the company directly. Businesses that implement an effective, efficient and business-focused strategy significantly outperform their peers. This is something very symbolic to strategic partners. They bring a future-focused workforce perspective, flexibly and rapidly developing workforce skills and capabilities to match emerging opportunities. Vendors and distributors would act as pure enablers in this regard and are part of the chain. Vendors provide the tools and constantly innovating at that and distributors work on the logistics for efficient training delivery and this is today an important factor for any vendor in the market with its offering for sustained revenue growth.

Training and certifications have been a key driver for most businesses. It has become an important strategy to stay relevant. We at Check Point Software take this very seriously and would recommend our channel partners to also make use of some of the global initiatives that we have in place. Check Point Software is helping to address the global cyber-skills shortage through a range of free education initiatives that help to train the next generation of cyber-warriors via leading educational establishments worldwide.

We live in the new normal. The pandemic had a significant impact on the global economy. In MEA, extensive lockdowns have led to changing consumer attitudes and a shift to online channels for meetings and learning. During lockdown, customers and partners across the GCC, focused on reaching out through online channels. The priority for reseller businesses in the next normal must be to manage the immediate impacts of the crisis on customer demand. Depending on their position, that may mean ramping up digital solutions, e-learning to keep abreast with the latest technology trends, leveraging third-party platforms, and using social media to continue conversations with their partners and customers.

That said, “business as usual” is a thing of the past. COVID-19 bought in a lot of changes to the workplace environment. But as resellers settle into the reality that the current state of things might be the new normal, they need to change their focus from ad-hoc arrangements to a fresh approach to your organisational strategy. For any business that relies on direct sales to drive revenue, it’s time to systematically update your sales organisation for the world we are living in now.


Bob Aoun, Regional Sales Director, MEA, Poly.

Finding and retaining the right IT talent by reseller orgnisations is hampering partner training and certifications, and the trickle-down effect is being felt and mirrored by the not-so-rosy sales figures.

To remedy this situation, solution providers should, among other things, reevaluate their channel training needs. Different categories of resellers need different types of training to market their products better. By determining what type of training works best for different channel resellers, solution providers can help their partners to overcome any challenges.

In the wake of a global health crisis, upskilling, reskilling, and training has become a necessity and to an extent, a survival tactic. Emerging issues and trends across industries coupled with the ballooning uptake of automation and integration have driven many executives to either upskill, reskill or train to acquire more knowledge in a bid to remain relevant.

Training, reskilling or upskilling should not be left to one party. It’s a shared responsibility with all the channel parties (vendors, distributors and resellers) involved playing a crucial part in ensuring that channel talents acquire the right skills set to meet emerging needs of the consumer and broader market trends.

On a weekly basis, we have more than 20,000 partner contacts logging in, reviewing and downloading useful information from our Poly portal, demonstrating how important it is for vendors to support their partners in their sales and skills development efforts.

Cloud computing, Machine Learning, data science, software engineering and cybersecurity are some of the notable growth drivers for many organisations. Emerging market trends and the ever-evolving customer preferences dictate the use and deployment of data-backed marketing strategies to generate leads and boost conversions.

Digital solutions such as cloud computing, Machine Learning and cybersecurity have become a must-have for businesses in the region. Poly is at the forefront in ensuring that all our internal and external teams are adequately trained in the respective digital disciplines. By doing so, we are equipping them with the necessary know-how to tackle and solve modern digital challenges.

Aside from that, the role of channel leadership is steadily gathering momentum in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) mostly due to the fact that the region-specific business environment has forced marketing channels to move towards vertical integration and long-term relationships with channel members. Regional resellers are now moving with speed to ensure that they quickly identify and single out any imminent deficiencies that might impede channel members’ perceptions, motivation, abilities and environmental conditions that could adversely affect their overall performance.


Mohamed Abdallah, Regional Director, META, SonicWall.

The tech talent squeeze in the channel means resellers must build deep leadership benches. In an environment where IT talent is in short supply, channel partners should take training and certifications seriously. Now, more than ever, there is a role to play for those with cybersecurity expertise. Underline the importance of the role a skilled resource could play some customers would find it difficult to deal with the current wave of attacks on their own. For solution providers, systems integrators and resellers, having a clear understanding of the cybersecurity threat landscape, particularly when it comes to new and emerging threats, is of paramount importance.

Cyberthreats remain a global problem and it is in SonicWall’s best interests to build a community of partners, educating and empowering them in the face of increasingly targeted and powerful cyberthreats. This should be a shared responsibility between vendors, distributors and resellers. Each entity must mutually work together on strategies that will shore up the future of the business, they need to map out which skill pools will disproportionately affect it and drive it forward. Treating training as a once off is one of the most common mistakes channel partners make. Partners need to understand that training is an ongoing process and regular assessments, and refresher courses is key to the organisation’s success. This is paramount to SonicWall’s success in the region as we constantly update our product line and introduce new models every quarter.

Apart from that, sharing threat intelligence to defend enterprises more adequately in the escalating cyber war, is crucial to SonicWall’s channel development programmes. We deliver web training, real-time cyberthreat intelligence, accreditation and certification capabilities through the award-winning SonicWall University and will cover topics such as cloud security, advanced persistent threats (APT), secure remote access, secure access service edge (SASE) and the principles of zero-trust security at no cost to authorised partners participating in the SonicWall Secure First Partner Programme. SonicWall University has overseen the completion of 390,000 hours of training administration of 778,000 successful exams. SonicWall’s continued commitment to not only provide security but also threat intelligence and training is a commitment we look to provide to all of our trusted partners.

For channel partners, having a clear understanding of the cybersecurity threat landscape, particularly when it comes to new and emerging threats, is important if they are to thrive and succeed in the current business climate.

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