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Inside the channel


Kirsten Doyle Kirsten Doyle

Digital transformation opens doors for channel players

Digital transformation has never been more important, and signals an opportunity for the channel.

There’s no doubt that digital transformation, and with it the ubiquity of cloud, have begun the erosion of the traditional ICT channel as the primary interface to the customer. The digital economy is unquestionably a buyer’s market, where business is gained or lost on the number of clicks it takes to make a transaction. 

Concurrently, the growing number of touchpoints, including connected devices and online platforms, is also shifting the authority to new incumbents, driving multilayered competition. The days of box dropping are long over, and those channel players wishing to thrive must move with the times, and actively manage their participation in the changing ICT ecosystem.

What makes the difference between success and failure right now is not only the ability of channel players to understand how each disruptor will affect their business, but the ability to incorporate these disruptors into their existing business strategy, and use it to their advantage.

For many South African businesses, the digital transformation journey is in its infancy, with the majority looking to their reseller and other channel partners to help them unlock the value of digital investments, and here lies a strong opportunity for the channel to add value along each link of the chain and across every part of the customer journey.

After all, the biggest problem with digital technologies is the initial complexity they create for the business. Channel partners that can help businesses manage these complexities will create a much-needed niche in the market for themselves. 

Superior customer experience

We have also just witnessed most of the globe shift to working from home (WFH), forcing many of them to fast-track their digital journeys, and businesses need help with this transition. Many are still reeling from the hit they suffered in trading over lockdown and the loss of income. Most organisations have had to rethink their strategies, investments and business costs in order to remain afloat. However, Covid-19 also opened a few doors for savvy businesses.

The mass exodus to WFH environments has put IT teams under tremendous pressure, opening the door for the channel to step in. Channel players that can offer a full range of services, including consulting, implementation, optimisation and support, across the full spectrum of organisations’ most pressing needs, such as digitisation, information security, hybrid and multicloud, automation, and analytics, will find themselves with more work than they can handle. 

Providing a superior customer experience has always been key to a successful business, and nowhere is that more true than in our new digital economy, where it is becoming a win-or-bust factor for success. In fact, studies reveal that customer experience has become more important than price and product, and is the main brand differentiator.

Digitisation shows no signs of slowing down, which is why I don’t think the channel has much to fear. Sure, increased competition, shrinking margins, and growing expectations will challenge the channel this year and into the future, but the resellers and distributors that thrive will be those that can step up and help their customers harness all the benefits digital transformation has to offer. They will reinvent their value propositions to address these changing times.

 

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