With multiple channel partners across the region, Ray Kafity, Vice President – Middle East Turkey and Africa (META) at Attivo Networks, speaks about the future of IT Channels.
How would you describe the state of channel in the region?
The channel in the META region is rapidly evolving and is undergoing a transformational change from old and antiquated methodology to new and advanced technology. These changes will force the channel community to adopt new ways to recruit new vendors, recruit new employees, and acquire new customers to win market share.
What have been the key challenges that channel faced in past one year?
The pandemic has caused working from home to be the new norm, which introduced an extended surface area and opportunity for cyberattacks. This, in turn, makes cybersecurity a key concern for enterprises and a focus for the channel going forward.
With this transition, we have seen service providers experience increased demand to provide higher security and availability for their subscribers now that employees and children are working and schooling at home.
With hundreds of live events cancelled and face-to-face meetings halted, channels need to find new ways to fill the gap and stand out among all the other webinars and zoom meetings that prospects are offered weekly. Finding ways to engage with their customers and prospects will be the key to success.
Another challenge will be managing a steady sales pipeline through the end of 2021. In 2020 many deals dropped or pushed into uncertain close dates. To remain financially viable, resellers must balance the cost of sales against incoming revenue. Those that have recurring revenue streams will be best positioned to maintain their business.
How is technology changing the face of channel?
We’re seeing networks open up a new world of services and solutions for the channel to offer and customers who are eager to tap into these to deliver a cutting-edge customer experience as channel partners race to bring new service offerings to the market.
The cloud has changed the business model of partners significantly. Hardware is no longer the key revenue driver, instead, it’s now completely swapped to be a software-first market. On the other hand, the cloud has hugely disrupted how people consider buying IT.
Partners should be transitioning their business models and be looking three to five years ahead to anticipate what they will be selling and where their revenue will be coming from. Establishing a sales model that is subscription-based and delivers recurring revenue will be an important part of this growth strategy.
What can channel partners do to stay in business and profitable?
In addition to building a recurring revenue model, partners should focus on developing new technologies and solutions for their customers that are suitable for a completely different way of working, particularly as the pandemic is still an issue
The key growth areas for the channel will be around helping customers with secure remote working, cloud migration and the adoption of 5G, including addressing concerns such as network security, IoT proliferation, and lack of agility and visibility throughout the IT infrastructure.
The channel is in the unique position of having access to the tools, people and support necessary to keep businesses, and more importantly, people, connected. Vendors that act as enablers for all channel parties to accelerate this shift will reap the rewards of a prosperous channel environment in 2021.
In your view, what is the future of channel?
The future of channel partner programs and ecosystems will rely on automation, flexibility, scalability and self-service.
Adoption of advanced new and state of the art technologies as well as managed or subscription-based services are paramount for their continued existence and success as a channel.
Attracting top-notch talent is also a vital pillar for channels to maintain their differentiation in the market.