How do you define a decade? It’s no easy task to describe the essence of a ten-year period. For businesses in the 2010s, however, one phrase captured the technology scene more than any other – and that’s digital transformation.

Just think how far the iPhone has come, or how much virtual conference technology has developed. As we head into a new era, there’s no sign of this slowing down, and digital transformation will continue to be top of the agenda for many businesses.

Some of these tech shifts (like the risk of robots taking over human jobs) are challenges to be tackled from the government down. Others are directly related to the telecoms services and platforms that businesses rely on. For channel resellers, this creates a huge opportunity – but also a significant risk. Because if you aren’t able to support your customers with the challenges of the next decade, there’s no doubt that one of your competitors will step up.

So, what issues do channel resellers need to consider – and how can you help your customers keep up with the rapid pace of change?

A data-hungry world: Channel resellers and data services

It’s not a new issue by any means, but having the right data services and network infrastructure in place will be fundamental to business success in the 2020s. Particularly as the prevalence of cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) is only likely to grow.

Yet many are still relying on legacy infrastructure that can’t adequately support important business ambitions. Businesses of all sizes need connectivity that can scale up (or down) and be deployed with minimal effort. You can therefore offer support by ensuring access to a robust, next-generation national network..

As reliance on applications from hosted voice to video conferencing grows, businesses will become more data-hungry than ever before.

Meanwhile, the rise in flexible working patterns and remote teams means organisations must have agile connectivity options

Staying educated on emerging connectivity solutions – such as SD-WAN – will be vital here, especially when it comes to supporting larger, multi-site enterprises or those with ambitious growth plans. Matthew Barnett
Head of Channel, Gamma

The countdown is on for voice partners

Four in five Gamma partners have already started migrating their existing ISDN base to Hosted voice or SIP, and those who haven’t begun this process should act quickly to ensure they don’t lose customers.

Although the switch off isn’t set to take place until 2025, ISDN will no longer be available to purchase from 2020. Businesses aren’t likely to leave it much longer before making the move to SIP or hosted telephony; the vast majority of Gamma partners, for example, anticipate this migration occurring before the end of 2022.

This base will be a highly appealing target for other telecoms sellers, so you should strive to stay actively involved with your existing clients over the coming years.

Interestingly, over 90% of Gamma partners have a customer base in the sub-100 user space. There is a clear opportunity for many resellers to move their customers straight over onto a hosted offering, which is easy to implement.

For voice partners, the ISDN switch off is the most pressing issue to tackle.

Many resellers will be affected by this: our research shows that over 90% of Gamma’s channel partners are still maintaining a base of ISDN customers.

Your customers aren’t the only ones facing challenges

When planning for the coming decade, channel resellers should also be aware of certain issues. For example, you may find that even smaller businesses are now looking for enterprise-class features – with so much competition in the market, organisations of all sizes across all sectors will come to expect the highest quality product.

So, you’ll need to partner with a company that consistently delivers best-in-class products, networks and platforms that can integrate with each other effectively. And be wary of having your head turned by a partner offering what looks to be the hottest new technology, but is in fact understrength. Things will continue to change quickly, so resellers should look to work with partners who have the financial backing to innovate and grow throughout what could be a turbulent period.

In addition, technology procurement will evolve throughout the twenties, and resellers need to be ready for this. Procurement has already become much simpler (with some often able to scale up or order new services at the click of a button), and businesses often no longer need a specialist to explain the options, come out to their offices, and install hardware.

Find your niche

This will continue, and be amplified by the fact that more and more IT decision makers will be tech-savvy ‘digital natives’, confident in their ability to research, procure and implement new products without a great deal of input. As a result, they may increasingly be happy to go straight to the source, cutting out the role of the channel partner altogether. Unless you can offer something different, that is. Long-term success in the channel is dependent on more than just product.

Partners that listen to their customers, understand how their business operates, the problems they have, and can solve those problems are the ones that will thrive. The partner’s value is in selecting product elements to build a rounded and tailored solution that relieves pain points, Gamma’s Head of Channel, Matthew Barnett, says the key for channel resellers lies in differentiation.

Everybody likes to think their customer service sets them apart, and that may well be true – but it’s important to interrogate what you’re offering that nobody else can, and give customers a motive to work with you. Finding a niche vertical market adoption could be a good strategy. Become the go-to person in a particular marketplace, like GPs’ offices or recruitment, and you’ll be able to offer use cases and deep insight that’ll ensure your customers still have a need for you.

Get set for the 2020s

In order to succeed, channel resellers must be prepared to support their customers with further digital acceleration, from data services to new voice platforms and beyond. By bearing all of this in mind – and keeping a weather eye on the horizon for new trends – channel resellers stand a fighting chance of thriving.