Scott Lynn, Services Director at Agilitas
According to latest research, 56% of decision-makers in the UK channel said they expected to see an increase in levels of collaboration. However, this was not evenly spread among different company types, with MSPs, distributors, resellers and vendors sharing differing insights into the future of collaboration.
As anyone working in the IT channel can attest, collaboration has become vital to ensure momentum is upheld, especially in the current climate of disruption and uncertainty. With social distancing and minimal contact becoming the norm, vendors and distributors are now having to rely on digital workflow and communication platforms more than ever, leaving some channel firms uncertain about what collaboration will look like in their industry in the years ahead.
With MSPs, distributors, resellers and vendors all holding different responsibilities and priorities within the channel, it’s understandable that some areas are more optimistic about collaboration than others.
The channel operates as a tight-knit chain and therefore each company as well as its services are affected by the performance of another. The slightest disruption can have a knock-on effect. For example, if MSPs weren’t able to embrace new methods of digital collaboration fast enough, it’s the resellers who would be impacted.
Embracing a digital mind-set can make the difference for vendors and distributors and help them to maintain a competitive advantage in the market. Currently, there are new tools available for channel partners to use to enable effective collaboration, such as online support platforms. Agilitas’ ‘Partnership’ Services Portal is an example of this, which provides partners with additional support during the current crisis to make sure collaboration is still taking place, despite not in the way it used to be due to limited face to face communication.
Predictions for the future
During recent years, channel leaders have collaborated only 17% with other companies, compared to 25% back in 2017, but this is set to change moving forward. Collaboration is crucial in stimulating channel innovation and during a time where everyone has had to adapt to new ways of working, the industry is at risk of losing its momentum if vendors and distributors fail to tighten their partnerships.
Going forward, channel businesses should continue to focus on delivering outcome-based solutions for customers, rather than off-the-shelf products. Creating these suitable outcomes primarily comes with successful partnerships and effective knowledge sharing.
The process of shaping a company into one that operates entirely self-sufficient without insight or support from other channel companies can result in an inefficient business outcome and an unhappy end user customer. Collaborative outcome-based solutions can access a broader range of specialist skills as opposed to a generalist approach which inhibits growth for the future.
Channel firms’ strategies
Evidently, channel firms’ strategies have changed vastly over the last six months and channel partners must continue to consider ways they will have to further adapt to prepare for the uncertainty of the future. Whilst traditional vendors may feel collaboration isn’t essential, they must aim to meet ultimate business objectives to produce innovative, tailored solutions which correlate to the changing technological landscape and the growth of digital collaboration and communication.
Inter-channel collaboration already plays an integral role in how organisations globalise and remain relevant to their customers. However, channel partners must be prepared to transform their business models in the coming months, as the economic landscape continues to look unclear. As a result, channel firms which are optimistic about collaboration and use it as a tool for innovation are more readily prepared for unforeseen changes. They should also continue to consolidate relationships with existing partners virtually, whilst looking for companies who bring something new and relevant to th