George Brasher talks through how the channel needs to be adapting
For years we've known that the digital age would require robust new skills from workers—including those who make technology, those who sell it and, of course, all of us as users. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has only made the need for digital skills more pronounced.
As companies quickly turned to new technologies and infrastructure to keep their workforces functioning, global digital adoption rates have leapt well beyond where we would otherwise be in 2020. In his quarterly earnings report to Wall Street, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, described this trend as two years of digital transformation in two months. This is a great thing but it also means that for channel partners, staying a step ahead of customers' needs has become far more complex.
Right now, the mandate has never been clearer: To stay competitive, partners must have the agile and future-ready solutions to help customers succeed. According to the World Economic Forum, the capabilities that will define the future of work are both "digital" and "human." Cloud computing and artificial intelligence will be critical, as will the ability to tap into personal and cultural shifts with an eye towards how human interaction with technology evolves.
Specialisations for Tailored Solutions
Understanding the markets customers work within requires in-depth knowledge and skills. As industries digitally transform, the way that partners solve end-user needs must adapt too. For technology sellers, the ability to align products and solutions with evolving industry requirements and the performance expectations of different sectors is critical. Business leaders are incredibly focused on transformation, and they're looking for true partners to make that happen.
In a global Deloitte survey, nearly half (48 percent) of executives said that introducing new business models was among the top five most-discussed topics within their organisation. Only half of those leaders, however, consider themselves ready for new business models.
Future-ready partners know the value of learning the ins and outs of operational needs, regulatory compliance and security issues within specific industry sectors, so that they can be stronger partners to the customers they want to reach.
Insights That Create Connections
Every technology partner has a wide range of tools that help them win customer loyalty. Their most important tool—and the one that makes them indispensable— however, is the ability to anticipate customers' needs.
However, data and data analytics can't do anything for a business unless they're put into action, so it's surprising that more than one third of companies have data they don't use. While businesses can generate volumes of data about product performance, sales, and customer engagement, true analytics require the processing and correlation of data to produce global insights with actionable opportunities. True analytics result in greater profitability and customer satisfaction.
By sharing basic operating data such as sales pipeline activity, services utilization, inventory levels and marketing activities, businesses can create a rich repository of best practices that lead to end-to-end operational efficiencies. The goal of data analytics is to create a common point of reference that powers the sales support, marketing resources, supply-chain optimisation, customer-service enablement, and other resources that result in better experiences and outcomes for partners and customers.
Lasting Interactions in the Customer Journey
A key quality of future-ready partners is that they see every customer as someone they need to build a relationship with, rather than someone to sell to. That means creating omnichannel experiences with multiple touchpoints. For an enterprise buyer, meeting with a technology partner likely won't be the first stop on their buying journey. They'll start online, and partners must have a meaningful presence there. Ultimately, the way partners operate should mirror the operational efficiencies and sophistication customers are seeking out.
HP, for instance, has invested heavily in holistic, subscription-based solutions, like our Managed Print Services that include devices, ink or toner replacement, and ongoing maintenance. Customers cannot afford to think about a single transaction or device in these volatile times; they are looking at the bigger picture. What will drive company-wide productivity? How can I outsource maintenance to save on my IT overhead? How can I make it easier for my workforce to collaborate? These questions are the market forces that prove how important IT channel relationships are today.
COVID-19 has only accelerated the need for ongoing, service-based solutions. We don't know exactly what the future holds, but the more technology can flex to both the short and long-term needs firms have, the better the outcome will be.
The market for business technology solutions is crowded. Ultimately, customers will return to sellers they trust, sellers who have proven that they have the skills and knowledge to help that customer succeed today and well into the future.
To meet rapidly changing customer expectations, companies like HP are focusing on building deeper relationships that inspire the innovation tomorrow demands. And we need to enable our partners to deliver on those expectations seamlessly. That's why we're launching our new channel partner programme, HP Amplify™.
HP partners can log on to the HP Partner Portal for additional information on HP Amplify, with additional details also available here.