Channel Champion Blog

by Geoff Wright, Channel Enablers

Due to a combination of different influences the IT channel is at a point of transition. We have seen transition points before; when IBM released the IBM PC and sold it through resellers, when Compaq created a world-wide chain of stores and resellers who sold their range of PCs, when Microsoft created the Office bundle, when Dell changed the whole PC purchase model, the development of broad-based enterprise software licensing, Cisco creating the Gold partner program, Apple changing the consumer focus from being software centric to hardware and platform centric, the private cloud, etc, etc, etc. Each time there have been market share winners and losers; and the losers are always the ones who ignore the change and try to carry on regardless.

What’s driving the current transition?

There are a lot of influences on partner-led business leading into 2013, including:

– Big Data
– Changes in consumer and business readiness to buy offshore
– Cloud
– Social media
– Online purchasing B2 B and B 2 C
– The Apple hardware centric world clashing with a hardware agnostic Windows world
– The ongoing “normalization” of the IT industry
– The changing face of Channel partner
– The rise of new competitors and the consolidation of others

We are seeing the role of the channel partner change dramatically, the re-emergence of wide scale direct product selling by vendors through stores and the internet, a change in business models caused by annuity based revenue schemes, and ongoing change in the role and importance of the channel partner in the overall Vendor GTM strategy.

Whatever your opinion about the drivers of current change or which changes are most profound… the truth is that change is happening. We must respond to change or face the same future as companies like Nokia, Rim , HP and maybe Microsoft.

The following charts tell a powerful story. We can clearly see growth when customer needs were understood and responded to, but we also see decline when these former leaders did not change, or did not change quickly enough, and others responded better.

In every transition market share leaders stand to lose the most. The change they miss is how customers are changing their purchasing needs and processes. When customers make buying decisions they consider more than just the best SW /HW and services to make up the solution. Customers also make decisions based on company reputation, business practices and packaging and pricing etc. Companies who are the big losers during transitions are those who are not focused on the end-customer and don’t ensure they bring value to the customer through the routes-to-market the customer desires.

This leaves you with four questions to ponder

  1. What changes do you see in how your end-user customers want to buy your products and solutions? How are you using this information to guide you in the development of your RTM strategy? Is your understanding of changing customer requirements shaping your channels?
  2. What are you doing today that does not meet your customer needs or attempts to force them to engage with you in a way that is not their preference?
  3. What is the relevance of your traditional partner ecosystem? Do you fully understand what partner types are needed moving forward and the changes this will have on the partners you need now, in one years’ time, and in 3 years? And the BIG question…
  4. What are your key change objectives for 2013? Because if you are not planning for change, do you really believe that doing everything the same as last year is going to work?

About the Author

Geoff WrightGeoff Wright, Executive Vice President at Channel Enablers
One of the principals of the business, Geoff leads the Channel Enablers Asia Pacific and EMEA teams, and acts as the project director on many of our global and large client projects.

With over 27 years of experience within the technology industry, he has enjoyed building a successful career at all layers of the IT & T channel. Geoff has worked with large consulting practices, reselling organizations, distributors and vendors. This includes time in senior executive positions in both Microsoft and Ingram Micro across Europe and Asia Pacific.

Geoff has developed a depth of knowledge concerning the markets and challenges of our customers across the world, in work that has ranged from high level strategic channel re-enginnering projects through to building sales teams as organizations adopt channels as a go-to-market model, executive mentoring and the development of skills within channel teams.

With a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Auckland University in New Zealand, Geoff is also a qualified accountant and spent a number of years working in various accounting roles in both Arthur Young and Price Waterhouse.