The key theme of this year’s CRN On: The Global Channel in 2020 event, which was of the highest in attendance since Agilitas first started sponsoring the event in 2016, was the development of a blueprint for growth in the fast-paced, changing channel environment we are currently in.
Having had time to digest what was discussed, it is clear that along with the key theme of Globalisation, channel companies, traditional resellers and ‘born in the cloud’ businesses were also taking into consideration previous themes that we have discussed throughout our Channel in 2020 Campaign, including Innovation, Collaboration, Relevance and Disruption.
Here are five key takeaways which I felt were the most prominent throughout the event and front of mind for those in the channel now and in the future:
Remaining relevant as a service in the channel
More than ever before, out-of-the box solutions are simply not enough for today’s customer. For businesses that are wanting to remain relevant to their customers both now and into the future, more value needs to be added for customers. Many also recognised the need to deliver outcome-based solutions that help customers achieve their end business needs.
Channel companies alluded to the importance of moving away from proprietary vendor models towards a more customer-centric approach, helping to provide more relevant products and services to their customers. This has led many in the channel to invest in ‘as-a -solution’ models, delivering the extra value for customers that resellers should now be promising.
Transformation to remain relevant for customers
With companies now understanding the increasing need to remain relevant to their customers, it is important to note that a transformational shift may be necessary now or in the near future, in order for businesses to continuously remain relevant and align with their customers’ requirements.
Transformation should also be on the minds of those that are looking to operate globally. Businesses that are looking to transform today by moving into new markets should focus on creating a global services proposition – this will mitigate risk and prepare for uncertainties within the channel, with Brexit currently being one of them.
Collaboration with other companies
As channel companies grow their service offerings, we have recently seen a strong increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions to build out capability. Companies wanting to grow organically are also collaborating with partners globally rather than exploring the M&A route.
The CRN On event highlighted to the channel delegates that collaborating with others allows them to enhance their business portfolios quickly and efficiently. Businesses are also recognising that with continuous international growth, they are able to enhance margins and gain greater loyalty from customers. With many channel businesses’ revenues being generated through collaboration and partnering skills learnt from other companies, it is clear that those lacking in this skills area can expect to see negative disruptions in their business.
Increasing artificial intelligence in the channel
Throughout the conference, there were many discussions on the continuous advancements and rapid changes of technology, which has led to an influence on buyers. The three key technology trends discussed were: blockchain, artificial intelligence and IoT. Blockchain will continue to evolve the way digital payments are handled. Artificial intelligence will enable firms to streamline processes, improve on performance and free up the utilisation of skills. The diversity of solutions and technologies offered by the internet of things (IoT) gives the channel many opportunities to get involved, and they will only increase as technology continues to develop.
Although technology is driving changes in the channel, it will always fit into a company’s culture as a key component in the sales process. With some remaining sceptical about the rapid pace of change, the end message was clear: advancements in technology will continue to accelerate – so companies need to develop business models that remain aligned to that rate of change from the start.
Rise of Globalocal in today’s channel
The rhetoric from the event was clear, that there is a growing global nature within the IT channel. Many firms are finding that the industry is becoming more competitive inline with growth and finding that businesses in other countries are now becoming direct competitors as they move onto our near shores.
Those involved on the day also discussed the theme of ‘Globalocal’ – maintaining the personal, local feel, while offering high quality, consistent services on a globe scale.
With the possibility of future global growth on the horizon for every company in the channel, I think the event offered some clear takeaways. Many businesses are recognising the need to remain relevant in the ever-changing channel that we are operating in today. For more insights into this theme, keep an eye out for our next report focusing on Relevance in the channel!