Channel partners have proved to be remarkable change-agents, both in front of their customers and in their own businesses. Thinking about the amount of churn over the past 35 years can be downright dizzying.
Starting from the first disconnected PCs to the recent highly publicised ransomware attacks, channel partners have transitioned their skills to dozens of new technology opportunities.
At the same time, they have transformed business models from resell, break-fix, installation, and maintenance, to solution providing and recurring managed services, among others.
The one thing that has stayed relatively constant over these decades is how customers decide on and procure technology. Led by CIOs and IT departments, channel partners and vendors have fine-tuned their product and messaging mix to capitalise on this customer buying journey. Over the past couple of years, driven by the cloud and the growing acceptance of SaaS business ecosystems, this journey just took a significant turn.
Line-of-business executives are influencing and making the majority of technology decisions
Forrester reports that 65 per cent of technology decisions are influenced and/or made by line-of-business executives.
These leaders of departments such as sales, marketing, customer experience, finance, operations and human resources are increasingly taking ownership of their own digital transformations. In fact, it is predicted that this number could rise to 80 per cent by 2020.
Interestingly, 29 per cent of these technology decisions have no involvement whatsoever by the IT department. The line-of-business executives are building the solution without internal help and in many cases are using external talent to advise on areas such as security, backup, compliance, and disaster recovery.
They are also using their own money. Fifty-two per cent of business executives are using business-unit budgets to buy technology as opposed to assigned technology budgets from IT departments.
Buyer shift is creating a huge opportunity for the channel
The new buyer is also creating massive channel opportunities - just not where we thought. Fifty-eight per cent of business executives are significantly involved in deciding on and hiring third-party services firms to implement and integrate these projects into the back end of their company.
Because 73 per cent of B2B buyers prefer buying cloud solutions directly from the vendor, we believe reselling technology and taking a front or back-end margin will soon become a relic of the past.
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