With the end of the year nearly upon us, many businesses are busy planning for 2014. This year has seen the rise of MSPs, an expansion of BYOD, and even more cloud adoption. What will next year bring?
The UK channel is one of the strongest in the world, primarily because of its people. There is a wealth of talent helping resellers and vendors work better and smarter.
Going into 2014, the channel needs to focus on training employees in line with the technological innovations happening now, if it wants to continue to lead the world.
Vendor spend is also increasing, with many offering more partner incentives and enablement tools than ever before. Vendors of all sizes are looking to invest in incentives to engage existing partners, as well as recruit more.
Yet although we're now turning a corner economically, the instability of the past few years still affects many partners' cashflow. There are fewer, and typically smaller, deals being done.
Channel partners may also struggle to maintain their legacy vendor relationships as the market evolves. End users are demanding the flexibility and scalability that newer technologies may offer, so channel partners need to strike the right balance between delivering flexibility and maintaining the status quo with their existing vendors.
Market consolidation is likely to accelerate next year, as phenomena including big data, cloud, the Internet of Things, and predictive analytics continue to develop.
Find vendor partners that are agile and quick to bring new products and services to market in line with customer requirements.
The software market is also changing rapidly – creating a big opportunity to bet on the future. In the current economic environment, those who take risks, make shrewd investments and think more innovatively will see big gains.
Then there's the issue of the skills gap. Making the right hires to meet the future needs of the channel is becoming more difficult.
Employers therefore need to take responsibility and recognise that investing in training at the outset will promote reward in the future. Hire the workforce of tomorrow early, and train them.
Next year, cash generation in the channel will become more difficult, as revenue streams continue to diversify. Any company that boosts its cloud revenue as a percentage of its overall business will quickly see an effect on cashflow.
The channel must plan accordingly to bridge that gap, perhaps with vendor financing or other initiatives.
Change will progress apace in 2014, both in the economic environment and the way end users access and manage IT requirements. Customers will still be sensitive about cost, however.
Rich Phillips is UK and Ireland channel and sales director at SAP
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