IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Channel’s Place in a Digitally Transforming World

Simplifying IT to accelerate modernization and cloud adoption, while mitigating risks of doing so, can be crucial to your SMB customers’ successful transformation. By Mariah West

IT HAS BECOME STANDARD PRACTICE for companies of all shapes and sizes to leverage channel relationships to help them scale and grow their businesses. But as the technology industry has changed and evolved over the years, so has the way companies utilize the channel. Digital transformation—the shift to a digitally driven business model for problem solving—is the latest impetus for change.

Part of the foundation for this new model is ensuring that IT, and the business as a whole, can withstand any and all planned changes, while also being resilient in the face of unplanned events. Businesses and their channel partners need a solid resilience plan for all-things IT, no matter what is thrown their way. Moreover, as companies adjust their priorities, channel pros need to adjust theirs as well.

Planning to Embrace the Change

Every business that wants to grow and stay ahead of the competition needs to embrace digital transformation. Customers now expect the same level of service and experience they receive with technology in their personal lives. Hybrid offerings, agility, security, and all-around seamless user experience are the perceived norm—and are all things that digital transformation can help provide. Additionally, digital transformation offers new ways to automate manual tasks such as HR and finance operations, which can significantly increase employee efficiency and reduce operational costs. There are many more potential benefits to embracing digital transformation, however these are the ones that are often top of mind for many C-level executives.

With this transformation, we are seeing businesses adjusting their priorities; there is a similar shift in what the channel should be prioritizing and providing. One of the major changes has been the rise of cloud, and the general focus on business agility, advanced analytics to demonstrate ROI, and any technology that can help the business move faster and do more with less. These are the primary technology considerations that the channel should, and is, looking to fulfill.

However, with tight budgets, this digital transformation is pressuring IT leaders to maximize resources. As organizations look to adopt a broader range of cloud-based services, many face the complexity of mitigating risks of downtime and data loss across a hugely varied environment—all while modernizing and migrating to multiple different platforms. This is no small feat, and it opens the door for new approaches to selling in the channel.

The Channel Solution: New Approaches to Selling

According to a recent IDC survey, 1 in 3 businesses are currently going through some form of digital transformation project. As these businesses adjust to this new model, they’re focused on being as cost-efficient as possible. Here is where channel partners have tremendous opportunity to provide end users with more robust, well-rounded IT strategies. In the past, for example, an end user may have purchased one software solution for migration, another for business agility, another for cloud mobility, and another for disaster recovery. This means when end users have questions or need things like upgrades or advice, they have to work with their chosen channel provider on each entity individually. This can be costly and time intensive for both the customer and the channel organization alike.

To combat these pains—and often quickly-escalating prices for servicing these separate solutions—the market is shifting toward a state of convergence, simplifying and unifying capabilities like backup, disaster recovery, and cloud into one scalable, easy-to-use platform. All in all, this allows end-user organizations to remove unnecessary costs and adopt new technologies easily, while limiting disruption and moving IT modernization and the business forward.

The Importance of Partnerships

This new, evolving business strategy opens the door for new partnerships to be formed, and for existing ones to further develop between different vendors and between vendors and channel partners. As a result, there are more cross-selling opportunities that can provide various new opportunities. For one, combined services can make integration easier, and closer integration can lead to better value offerings for customers and improve sales. Additionally, with products that work well together, channel partners can easily design truly specialized solutions that are an exact match to the customer’s needs, regardless of vertical. Providing a one-stop shop that simplifies IT to accelerate modernization and cloud adoption, while mitigating risks of doing so, can be crucial to success in digital transformation.

While “digital transformation” can seem like just another buzzword, it is in fact affecting organizations and the way they’re structured. For the channel, this new priority makes way for a different approach to business, creating enhanced partnership possibilities, and opening new doors for vendors, VARs, and end users.

MARIAH WEST is director of global marketing programs and operations at Zerto, an IT resilience platform provider for managing disaster recovery, data protection, and cloud.

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