Traditional IT infrastructures are changing. Savvy end-user organisations recognise that in order to succeed, they need to undergo a structured and measured transformation of their IT infrastructure. This requires the support of a strong IT partner who can help them execute change, while carrying on business as usual.
One of the messages from this year’s CRN Top VARs end-user survey is that organisations are not about to abandon relationships with long-standing channel partners in order to jump on new technology bandwagons. Collaboration and partnership have long been core principles of the channel and the desire of end-user organisations to work alongside a trusted partner towards initiatives such as cloud computing and remote working remains fundamental.
End-user companies rely on their IT partners to innovate and educate them when it comes to the latest technology. To do this effectively, IT partners, in turn, require the right distribution partner that is prepared to invest in new initiatives to separate the hype from the reality. Successful VARs will continue to help organisations preferring to invest in on-premise IT, while maintaining a watchful eye on cloud-based services and other technological advances.
Moving to managed services
The IT channel will play a further pivotal role as firms look to broaden their hybrid IT infrastructures and take advantage of cloud-based managed services. This is particularly relevant for SMBs. For IT partners supporting such organisations, this represents an incredible growth opportunity.
However, it may require the IT provider to transform its own business model to that of a managed service provider (MSP).
For smaller partners, without the infrastructure or resource required to make the transition to a managed service provider, distribution can introduce them to specialist MSPs taking on the role of an intermediary or aggregator. By collaborating on joint bids with larger MSPs, business partners retain primary relationships with their customers. Meanwhile, customers get to work with their preferred supplier, while benefiting from an as-a-service solution, including monthly payments instead of a hit on capital expenditure.
Staying close with services
While there is a fair amount of cynicism from CIOs at end-user organisations around topics such as BYOD, advanced security threats, collaboration, unified communication and cloud, budgets are still being squeezed. Therefore opportunities to ease the load with practical professional services will always be well received.
For example, business partners can get closer to customers by delivering services that support improved management of hardware and software assets and solve challenges including software compliance and renewals management. Such essential but time-consuming tasks provide resellers with an opportunity to get under a customer’s skin and provide quotes for replacement equipment as well as the disposal of old kit. However, investing in services can be a risky business and once again distribution can help.
While there may be those who are yet to be convinced of the benefits of the changing technology landscape, there is no denying it is happening and opportunities for growth do exist for the channel.
It is essential that VARs are aware of the current drivers for change and are ready and available with the right solutions, skills and services at the right time. To achieve this requires support from a distribution partner with the strength and depth to maximise new opportunities.