Cloud software has been every bit as important as hardware for homebound workers this year, other THREADcast speakers noted. Indeed, global cloud infrastructure revenues jumped 34% year-over-year in the first half of 2020 and software-as-a-service spending rose 21%, according to recent data from Synergy Research Group.
“Cloud has been the lifeline and the backbone of business through COVID. It saved many businesses from collapsing,” said Maria Moran, a senior cloud development manager at D&H who participated in the work-from-home session. 2020 has been far less stressful for resellers ready to meet those needs, she noted, than for partners who had to improvise cloud offerings in a hurry.
“Now what we’re doing is we’re working with a lot of those partners who kind of sat back and put those band-aids on ... and formulating a more long-term cloud strategy,” Moran said.
The D&H show’s keynote panel yesterday addressed another long-term issue for channel pros: selling to millennial and Generation Z buyers. By 2025, in fact, according to data from Forrester analyst Jay McBain cited during that session, fully 75% of the people making key business decisions for SMBs will be millennials.
“We see a major cultural shift occurring in some firms and in our industry,” said Dr. Ashlyn Szilva, executive director of social media and research at channel advisory firm JS Group. “It can be really costly if you don’t approach this the right way.”
That right way, she made clear, is to create product and service information that’s easy to find and consume, especially via social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter.
“They all anticipate a different experience with their technology provider, one that’s transparent, highly digital, with relevant and snack-sized content available at the click of a button to educate us in the minute that it matters,” said Szilva, a young leader herself, of her fellow millennial and Gen Z decision-makers.
Willpower Harris, CEO of sales consultancy Willpower Group, stressed the “snack-sized” part of Szilva’s marketing content success formula. “You can’t write a book. You can’t have a movie,” he said. “You should be talking seconds, not minutes and not hours.”
Heather Margolis, meanwhile, reinforced the transparency part of Szilva’s advice. “We all need to be a little bit more authentic,” said Margolis, who is CEO of Spark Your Channel, a provider of channel marketing automation solutions. “If you’re trying to sell someone something, tell them that you’re trying to sell them something, but tell them why it’s good for them.”
This week’s conference is the latest manifestation of ongoing efforts by leading distributors to share best practices with resellers thrown off guard by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. D&H, for example, launched a series of resources about meeting business continuity requirements last month. Tech Data introduced a similar educational program for its cloud partners earlier in the summer.