The conventional view of the channel is hyperlocal, as channel operations are often defined by the market forces, economic conditions and providers in specific regions. This leads vendors to organise their channels by regions, such as North America or EMEA, providing independence and autonomy to engage with local channel partners.
A global channel study by Incisive Media, publisher of CRN UK, and the 2112 Group, publisher of Channelnomics, has found that resellers may act locally but are quite aware of what's happening on a global level. Also, they are influenced by the channel policies and actions in foreign regions.
The study, presented earlier this week in New York City at the first 2112-Incisive Media Global Channel Summit, polled about 100 solution providers in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe on their perceptions of vendors' global operations and their own prospects for international expansion.
The IT marketplace has been global for decades, with vendors and distributors operating around the world. Vendors work with outsourced manufacturing in emerging markets, and several vendors and distributors operate technical support centres in places such as India and the Philippines for cost reasons.
The channel remains segmented by regions - including North America; Latin America; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific. Each region can be broken down into sub-segments, such as China, the US, or Japan, due to their unique economy, revenue potential or regulatory climate.
Vendors speak of harmonising their channels with global operations, making policies and operations are consistent across each international region. Local channel managers tend to resist such imposition, saying global policies won't work locally because of unique market requirements, culture, and reseller composition.
Regardless of these assumptions, the 2112-Incisive study found that solution providers are paying attention to channel policies in other regions, as well as economic conditions in foreign markets.
More than half of the respondents in North America and UK said they were influenced by the channel policies developed and implemented in the US. And most of the solution providers asked in both regions said it was important that vendor channel policies and operations are consistent around the world.
In years past, resellers in different regions were truly isolated. Information didn't flow freely and it was difficult to coordinate with peers. The 2112-Incisive quiz found that 40 per cent of respondents were collaborating regularly with peers in other countries in selling, customer support and best practice. Less than 10 per cent were not collaborating with international peers.
Transnational collaboration is enabled by the ubiquity of information and low-cost communications. It's also driven by necessity, as customers with international presence seek support for their foreign workers and offices. Rather than expanding internationally, resellers are partnering with peers to extend market reach and customer support, according to the survey.
The study's conclusion: Vendors cannot afford to think about their channel regional operations as monolithic affairs. Resellers are finding ways to play on the global stage, and are making decisions based on what vendors do in different regions.
This article is published as part of our special editorial partnership with the 2112 Group and Channelnomics.
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