For those of us who work in the channel, we know by now that it can be a challenging place to be. The more we know about the current state of it, though, the more likely we are to come out ahead. CompTIA recently released its 7th State of the Channel report, and below we’ve examined some of the key points for partners.
What Is the Current State of the Channel?
The best descriptor for it is “changing.” Some points are expanding, others contracting, and still others are simply different from what they once were.
Emerging technologies driving growth. The biggest issue in the channel is technologies that have only recently arrived on the world stage, and many of these technologies are still under development. One recent study of UK businesses pointed out that using blockchain was proving a bigger challenge than expected, while in the United States, drone aircraft are tightly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Specialization is increasing. Increasing numbers of channel firms are picking a specialty and sticking to it. This is done for several reasons, including to satisfy a specific demand in the field and to serve as a way to better stand out in the market. Being a specialist in a certain field certainly provides an advantage over any generalists still left out there, but specialization also requires the right training and the right skills to make that specialty stick.
Increasing competition. Not only are there new firms getting into the fray, including those that have grasped the value of a specialty, but there are also new kinds of firms entering as well. Cloud-based independent software vendors (ISVs), digital marketing agencies and more are all stepping in to not only provide more competition, but also offer the potential for new partnerships and new markets to access.
What Changes Are Likely to Appear in the Future State of the Channel?
The future state of the channel, meanwhile, is also demanding change.
The overall ecosystem. The tech ecosystem in general will not be the same in just two years as it is today. Many expect it to be much larger, and quite a few expect it to become deeply specialized, as we’ve seen with earlier responses. Comparative minorities expect the field to either remain the same or shrink, so expect change, and expect that change to flow in the direction of specialties.
Hardware’s strange new place. One of the oddest problems facing tech is that change catalysts are almost contradictory. While many expect emerging technologies to move the market in whole new directions, many kinds of current hardware sales are actually losing ground to application-based services. This isn’t out of line; while we’re putting new investment in developing drone aircraft and new sensors for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, we’re seeing server sales fall off, going largely to those who plan to offer cloud-based operations to other users.
Customer demands change. Not only are customer demands different in terms of hardware, they’re also wildly different on other fronts. While many firms will still want a “trusted advisor” in play—vendors make good trusted advisors because they can make recommendations based on what they sell—those firms will also want advisors trained and experienced in certain key areas.
Internal issues emerge. While the future will be bright for tech companies, there will be many problems as well. A “skills gap”, for example—a dichotomy between what businesses know and what their clients want businesses to know—will be in play in the near term. New competitors will enter the market and force businesses to pivot; the less agile will be at a marked disadvantage. IT solutions of the future will only get more complex, and customers will have more options for placing orders—meaning businesses will have to work hard to compensate.
How Can I Get Help Succeeding in a Constantly Changing Channel?
Regardless of the state of the channel, the best way to get ahead is to have a good master agent on your side. Reach out to us at Innovative Business Solutionsto back you up. We support over 500 partners throughout the United States. Whether you’re out to land the biggest enterprise accounts or make a name for yourself with the smaller cable deal, we can deliver partnerships from Comcast Business to Vonage and beyond to give you the best chance of bringing in new business. Just drop us a line to get started.