Our latest European Channel in 2020 event, looking at Collaboration, Innovation and Disruption in the IT channel between now and 2020, was a tremendous success, yet it emphasised the one overarching theme that has been bubbling in the channel: innovation is necessary to stay relevant to your customers.
Because of an increasingly dynamic and fast-moving environment in the channel, businesses cannot afford to stand still, otherwise they’ll go backwards. This has never been more true; like other sectors, the only constant in the IT channel is change.
Looking simply to innovate is not enough however; other themes that Agilitas has been exploring throughout its 2020 campaign, including collaboration and disruption that were covered at CRN On, will inevitably overlap.
However, the gathering of channel leaders and influencers was not intended to scaremonger businesses into panic. Although the current and future challenges are exactly that – a challenge – there is plenty of opportunities to overcome them, while simultaneously growing your service offering and overall proposition for customers going forward.
The analysis of how businesses can prosper between now and 2020 was kicked off by Ian Spence, founder and CEO of Megabuyte. Ian looked at the details behind margins in the channel, using an example of a channel firm with an almost uncanny ability to continue growing, as the yardstick for how resellers can be financially successful.
This also covered how the likes of managed services are higher-margin options for resellers, though he did warn that the spike of managed print services won’t last forever.
Before further channel players covered how they have successfully implemented Agilitas’ key 2020 themes, Agilitas CEO, Shaun Lynn looked at how businesses must juggle disruption, collaboration, innovation, technology, finance and people in the channel, using these as an opportunity to grow and stay relevant, not wilt.
These six themes were identified from independent research carried out with channel leaders, ensuring that these are the main concerns of those who have the most influence. Although ‘disruption’ perhaps invokes negativity in the channel, Shaun emphasised that companies should take the ‘glass-half-full’ approach to these disruptive forces, achieving new objectives by assessing the opportunities that fall under the other five categories.
Although there is significant overlap with all six areas, Shaun reiterated the main themes of 2017’s event. He looked at how developing technologies will allow companies to implement automated projects that will enhance innovation and efficiency, although this will see companies investing 50% more on innovation projects by 2020.
Looking at the disruptive factors that will impact the channel between now and 2020, Shaun considered how the rise of millennials in senior management positions in businesses will shape the direction that they – and the overall channel – will take; they’ll be able to present a fresh perspective on ways to work, unburdened with the historical way of doing things. He also looked at how 37% of channel leaders see GDPR as the main disruptive factor. This is another route that businesses can pursue to ensure data security is tightened, both internally and for their customers.
The key themes were also covered by Darren Spence, founder and managing director of Sales Gym 360, who detailed how channel businesses can make the transition from ‘Just Another Reseller’ to a Value Added Reseller (VAR), highlighting how companies need to consider all of the attributes.
Chris Dunning, founder of TechQuarters and the 365 Cloud Academy, also outlined how differentiation through innovation is key when clients are facing cloud challenges.
The agenda closed with a panel discussion with Lynn, Nettitude’s Steve Ellis, Rubrik’s Alex Raistrick and Exclusive Networks’ Barrie Desmond, looking at digital transformation. Although one of the key takeaways was that VARs and managed service providers (MSPs) must focus on their customers’ business outcomes, the overarching opinion is that they must take the lead and provide a consultative approach, in order for their solutions to stay relevant.
This also brings collaboration into the discussion. MSPs must be working closely with their customers on how they can further add to their overall service proposition, filling any gaps where necessary. If this includes change, they must encourage customers that this is a good thing; being digital ready is the only way in which they will feel prepared for the future.
If the main themes of disruption, collaboration, innovation, technology, finance and people are not embraced to move forward, there will always be a competitor ready to go that extra mile.
Channel businesses should be thrilled that there are so many avenues to transform their own business, and that of their customers; we’re only just getting started in exploiting these opportunities in the run up to 2020.