What does 2017 hold for the channel? According to Riverbed’s Ramzi Itani, the channel sales director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, digital transformation would redefine the channel’s role.
He said digital transformation was being triggered by cloud computing, mobile technologies, IoT, and big data analytics, among other factors. Most companies were now embracing cloud for software- and hardware-as-a-service options, instead of installing those solutions in their data centres.
“Channel partners are not being cut out entirely (yet), but this signals the end of collecting fees for traditional intermediary functions such as license renewals and providing upgrades. As a result, we’re already seeing many of our partners roll out new services that position them as expert service providers who can assist their customers with the migration to the cloud.”
The traditional sales model involved an original equipment manufacturer developing new software or hardware after which a value added reseller would sell it to an end user. The reseller would also be able to continue to generate revenue be selling upgrades and licence fees. This model, said Itani, would disappear in the next three to five years.
“If you look at the digital transformation that’s happening, it’s forcing customers to start thinking cloud, and how they can reduce their costs and workforce management.”
He said Riverbed’s customers had also started looking at whether they should put their core applications into the private cloud because they needed control and visibility.
Turning to Riverbed’s partners, he said they needed to be advisers to their customers, and ‘not just an entity that sells to them’.
“They need to rethink their strategy and the way they address their requirements. This requires a lot of investment, but in the end it makes them more profitable and more of a trusted source and go-to entity.
“Today it’s all about the partner making money with a leading technology. To do that we modified our partner programme: the more skills you build, the more money you make. The more you invest in selling a solution to the customer and embedding our technology into a solution, the more money you make.”