As the world emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, with all the change it wrought, geopolitical events continue to impact us.
Even as new ways of working have emerged, with digital transformation being accelerated for the new patterns and models of business, supply chains have become constrained; raw materials, manufacture, and assembly have all been impacted; and certain approaches to the latest waves of infection have imposed new difficulties.
To this backdrop there are new challenges for the technology sector, as modes of consumption, sustainability priorities, and skills issues all conspire to make conditions difficult. Complexity in IT architectures, spiraling costs, changing workforce attitudes, and more, have created a perfect storm.
What is clear amid the fog of uncertainty is the increasingly important role vendors can play as the foundation of an ecosystem to provide adaptive, inclusive, and attractive channel partner programs that are aware of and evolving within this maelstrom of influences.
A key point in the current situation is the way the pandemic accelerated moves to more operational expenditure (OpEx) dominated models of operation and consumption. This is reflected in the evolution of partners from VARs to managed service providers to trusted technical partners for their customers.
This provides an opportunity to develop new revenue streams, such as managed power and edge computing services, that offer tailored solutions from certified modular elements, at once addressing cost, implementation and management, and operational concerns. As infrastructure becomes more distributed, there will be a greater need to be able to monitor and manage remotely, reducing the need for hands-on intervention and the attendant personnel requirements.
Many customers, even among the largest of organizations, are finding that business demand as well as digital transformation ambitions are creating complexity in architectures and solution stacks. With the current global talent challenge, MSP partners are looking for ways to both provide capability and improve management efficiency to alleviate the shortage.
A recent Canalys survey found that almost nine out of 10 (87%) APAC partners collaborate with at least one other channel partner in customer projects. This cooperation provides greater depth and insight for MSPs to offer the kind of reliable, resilient, and tailored solutions for customers that are forming the basis of longer-term, service-based offerings.
Vendor alliances, too, play a key role in providing channel pros with the depth of intelligence, technology, solutions, and products necessary to meet complex, evolving needs, with sustainability center stage.
Up-, Cross-, and Reskilling
With the proliferation of new technologies, such as AI/ML, IIoT, 5G, blockchain, and edge computing, keeping up to speed, while also enabling people to horizon scan and prepare customers for the future, is vital. Particularly with the skilled talent shortage, MSPs have a renewed focus on education, skills, and training. Upskilling and cross-skilling for every organization has become a key strategy.
Therefore, MSPs need to seek vendor partners that make certification training, as well as general familiarization options, more widely available. As customers look increasingly to their MSPs and technical partners for information on how to achieve their transformation aims, channel pros need broader and deeper support to develop skills and maintain a future-ready skill set.
Sustainability is a constant thread that runs through all aspects of the industry today. As many organizations look to accelerate their plans in this area, helping customers develop, implement, and support their goals is an important opportunity for channel partners.
Canalys reports that 40% of channel partners expect to generate revenue from sustainability solutions in 2022, and 60% of polled partners expect to have their strategies set by the end of 2022.
However, the analyst points out that multivendor cooperation is needed to bring clearly identified and agreed upon standards to enable easily understood reporting and measurement of sustainability progress across the industry.
Channel pros should look to vendor partners to provide important insights on cleaner, greener products and help enable them to have conversations about sustainability with their customers. MSPs also have an opportunity to guide customers in better equipment lifecycle management, allowing them to take greater advantage of technical developments. They should seek vendor programs that assist with this.
Evolving Partner Programs
As the channel evolves to new modes of operation and new business models, change is needed to allow MSP partners the room to grow too.
Partner programs need to reflect increased cooperation, as well as the move to more service-based offerings. Instead of focusing on volume or status, partner programs must be more adaptive, while providing facilities such as deal registration, MDF, and better access to a broader range of marketing resources. Cooperative efforts can increase reach and better serve MSPs to know what is possible, and how things can be done more effectively for their customers.
Despite huge change and many challenges, the technology channel has many opportunities for those partners who can evolve to meet changing needs.
With the support of vendor programs that are also evolving to the new realities of current conditions and needs, channel partners can build resilience through greater cooperative efforts, leveraging ecosystem resources that have been redesigned for today and tomorrow.
NATALYA MAKAROCHKINA is senior vice president, secure power division, international operations, at Schneider Electric.