IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Building Resilience in Uncertain Times

How managed service providers can navigate challenging conditions by leveraging vendor partner and channel ecosystems. By Natalya Makarochkina

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.

New Opportunities

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.

Increased Cooperation

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.

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