I was fortunate enough to play some golf with a valued business partner last week.
Between the friendly but competitive rivalry, we discussed the impact of the pandemic on the IT industry and the likely outcomes we will see over the next 12 months. Hearing how decisions they had made some years previously had put them in a strong position, not only to survive but grow over the past 12 months, was insightful. Their experience of Retail, typically purchasing IT in the same way as goods, had made them conclude they should be wary about including retailers on their target customer list. They had focussed on Financial Services and Public Sector, both of which have continued to invest over the past 12 months. Plus, where many partners had lost staff over this period, they had recruited, seeing opportunity to pick up additional skills.
Another area that has seen growth is the NextGen community, with many new innovative businesses being born. Some through necessity; creative staff leaving large enterprises needing to build something for themselves and others through opportunity, as investors look for the next success story to fund. There has certainly been no shortage of investors cash around looking for a good home.
The Airbnb IPO in the US last week valued the company at over $100bn, despite making huge losses over the past 12 months. Investors obviously believe it will continue to successfully use technology to disrupt the travel Industry, marking the price up over 100% from the initial $68 per share. The company valuation was greater than that for Hilton and Marriott combined. Every week at Tech Data we see a new partner enquiry coming from this community, looking for new relationships to help them get their innovation to market.
Wherever you look, the IT industry is also undergoing significant change. It is not yet rivalling the disruption we have seen on the high street, for example, but the early signs are there. Being part of the supply chain is no longer a guarantee of success, adding more value to the customer than they perceive they are paying for, becomes the acid test.
One of the challenges I have set for my sales teams in previous businesses was based on the value their customer thought they brought; “Would your customer pay for the sales call?”. This test has become even more important today as so much more information becomes available on-line. Now it’s your insight, industry knowledge, recommendations, advice and relationships with other parts of the ecosystem that become important, not a part number, description or price.
A significant part of the Tech Data ecosystem programme we have been building over the past 18 months has focussed on creating new partner-to-partner relationships. Matching the innovators with the established or as we term, anchor partners. Those with a fantastic idea and niche market knowledge combining with those who understand what it takes to establish a route to market and the vagaries of working with the vendors that will be included. Where these relationships are forged both parties can increase their reach and value proposition to the customer.
During this time, we have had over 60 presenters from partners, ISVs, innovators and guest executives at our various events; watched and listened to, by over 600 participants. Events have ranged from the Partner to Partner showcases early in the year, along with meet-ups for Healthcare and Manufacturing. Since March we have been running our Innovation Webinars, continued with our Industry Showcases and introduced the Red Hat Ecosystem, which has attracted new, speciality businesses looking to build offerings with our anchor partners.
The “Introduction to DevOps” from Steve Green at Ranger4 on last week’s Ecosystem webinar was excellent. A link to the recording is attached below. If you are unsure as to why DevOps is becoming an important part of the conversation with enterprise customers, then I recommend listening. There was also further evidence of the interest in this area with participants signing up for their new year course immediately after the webinar. A promo code for this course, which can be used to provide ecosystem members a free place, can be found at the end of the recording. Click here to access the recording. Passcode: 6UkJwtr&
We are now looking forward to 2021 with a range of events including, we hope, face-to-face meetings in Q2 next year. We are continuing to expand the audience for these events across the four Ecosystems; Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail and Red Hat, and are always interested in promoting both existing partners and innovators. If your business would like to either present or simply join as a participant at a future event, please get in touch. We look forward to working with you in the New Year, and who knows, maybe we’ll play some golf!