It's safe to say that the pandemic has brought about a major change in the way organisations conduct business. The channel has undergone its fair share of adjustments, from how events and purchasing are conducted to changes in supply chains and product distribution. These are some of the trends shaping the channel in 2021.
Channel networking to shift to hybrid-events
The shift to virtual events was a great challenge for the channel. Maintaining the ability to network, form relationships and spark debate were the most affected elements of business, but it has also showcased that the use of virtual events could well be part of the future.
There have been vast improvements in the quality and outcome of online events through streamlined formats and efficient technology. The nature of networking online through virtual summits could also be set to improve in the coming year, potentially with more of a hybrid approach.
Hybrid conferences, those with both a physical and online attendee presence, will become an effective networking model for the channel. Digital events have meant more attendees can attend online sessions, expanding the audience beyond that of physical events. However, the benefits of physical connection and relationship building haven't quite been able to be replicated online and the in-person physical events will maintain a key role in channel business.
The channel marketplace will change as businesses adapt
The pandemic has forced a shift this year as increasing amounts of managed service packages begin to make an impact.
The partners who are able to extend their product portfolio with such software packages and managed services to help their customers in digital transformation journeys, will be the ones who adapt and prosper. This may create a change to direct to end user models from the bigger brands, while smaller partners will continue to look and shift to add value to their offering through consultancy services, becoming the expert and no longer just a sales partner.
Supply chain & distribution challenges dissipate gradually
Big challenges continue to lie ahead with distribution in the channel. 2020 saw airports grounded, hampering those partners who opted to use commercial planes as their transport networks. What could have been an opportunity is now a problem with air transport, and the logistical challenges will remain in the early part of this year, hopefully getting better throughout 2021. The challenge for the future is in managing order levels and reducing shipment delays. The previous reliance on third party infrastructure is causing some major sticking points, meaning we could now see the channel bring logistics in house.
For channel businesses, navigating these challenges will be a top focus in 2021. But they can be confident of their success and growth with the right transformational plans. More content and guidance is available through the myWD partner program which offers 2,000 welcome points for signing up.
This article was written by Olga Kozlova, Senior Manager, Channel Marketing, EMEA, Western Digital