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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Strained Resources in the IT Channel: Adapting to Outcome-Focused Engagements

Techaisle’s landmark survey of 2,115 channel partners, representing a cross-section of the partner community, shows diverse concerns reflected in the business issues data stemming from a fundamental change in how the IT channel engages with customers. Like the IT function, the channel has typically served clients as a problem-solving option, able to plug a defined technology gap with a functioning system. However, as “business infrastructure” became indistinguishable from “digital infrastructure,” the definition of what IT needs to deliver has morphed. IT is now expected to support the business in ways that deliver tangible business benefits. The buyer community increasingly insists on outcome-focused project definitions, and procurement departments have started using shared-risk approaches, rather than traditional RFP-style responses to static requirements, to optimize the impact and value of systems that deliver new business functionality.

techaisle channel outome blog

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Partner ecosystem - the winds of change: all thrust, no vector

The aviation phrase “all thrust, no vector” is sometimes used to describe individuals or initiatives that exhibit a great deal of energy (such as the power required for a plane to achieve liftoff) but no clear sense of direction. It is an apt description of the current state of the IT channel.

  • The IT channel is facing several challenges, including the need to deliver more business value, the shift to as-a-Service contracts, and the need for new skills.
  • There is no clear consensus on the best way to address these challenges.
  • Channel partners are struggling to find a balance between investing in new initiatives and maintaining their existing operations.

Consider the critical business issues identified by survey respondents in Techaisle’s survey as a starting point. Ten issues (from a list of 19 options) were identified as important by more than one-quarter of respondents, but not one was identified as important by more than half. Respondents are trying to reduce volatility in their businesses by managing uncertainty, reducing churn, and focusing on customer retention – and/or they are attempting to drive growth by improving speed to market, focusing on new markets, and increasing the number of offerings sold to each customer – and/or they are looking to shore up core operations through improving sales and marketing effectiveness, attracting and retaining employees, and increasing engagement with vendor partners.

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Techaisle study reveals the IT Channel in search of a roadmap to success

Techaisle’s landmark survey of 2,115 channel partners, representing a cross-section of the partner community, indicates that while pressure for change is mounting, partners have not yet coalesced around a path forward. The Techaisle channel survey shows that the partner community members are searching for a roadmap to success. That roadmap will vary across partner models, as will the opportunities and requirements for suppliers. In this time of transition, effective channel collaboration will determine growth and viability for both individual channel businesses and their vendor suppliers.

The early years of this decade have been challenging for individuals and businesses in all sectors. In some cases, the pandemic – or, more recently, rising interest rates and declining consumer confidence – have caused tremendous upheaval, with suppliers finding that traditional definitions of the market, sales motions, and fulfillment no longer applied.

The current decade has brought an even thornier set of challenges to the IT channel. In addition to the macro conditions that apply to all businesses, and against a backdrop of changing business models, shrinking product margins, and the need to build profitable services practices, channel members need strategies to cope with:

A shift in core customers – from technologists to an organization-wide mix of personas, including businesspeople who define technology in terms of business rather than IT functionality.

• A shift in buying and selling models – from fee-for-product/service to approaches that involve outcome-based evaluation and contracting or shared risk agreements that tie payments to achieving defined business goals.

• A shift in solution composition – from monolithic systems to modular stacks that address target functionality via APIs – as well as a corresponding change in the underlying business approach, from “design once, deploy many” to a need for individualized solutions tailored to a fluid set of customer needs.

These conditions have combined to place the channel under tremendous stress. Channel members have explored different business models, different product mixes – accompanied by demands for new skills and service capabilities – and other marketing, selling, and partner relationship configurations.

Both channel businesses and their vendor suppliers are vested in understanding how solution portfolios are changing and how the channel and vendor communities can best work together to bring solutions to market. These are complex questions, but their answers are at the heart of a wide range of sales, marketing, and executive imperatives. This study provides valuable input to those discussions.

Aligning to Changing Solution Portfolios

The starting point for an analysis of alignment to changing solution portfolios is the portfolios themselves – what is the channel selling, and how fast is revenue associated with these offerings expected to grow? Data shows that more than 80% of partner firms are selling cloud and/or collaboration, and more than 60% sell customer experience, employee experience, or analytics solutions. From a growth perspective, 80% or more of channel members anticipate growth in cloud and 5G, and 70% or more expect growth in collaboration, analytics, SD-WAN, virtualization, and/or SD-WAN.

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SMB and Midmarket Managed Services Spending to Reach USD104B in 2024 with Shift in Demand Type

A Techaisle SMB and Midmarket adoption trends study of over 5100 SMBs and midmarket firms found that managed services are a priority for 79% of SMBs and 97% of upper midmarket firms. Worldwide spending on managed services by SMBs and midmarket firms is estimated to reach US$104B in 2024. Data from the last five years also shows an increasing overlap between managed and cloud consulting services, with a growing need for cloud cost optimization, security and compliance, and cloud and storage optimization. In the final analysis, Techaisle expects strong growth for managed services as it directly supports critical business and IT needs.

The adoption of managed services is driven by several key factors. These include improving IT security and management processes, proactively identifying and fixing problems, reducing IT and business risks, and enhancing disaster recovery and business continuity readiness. However, the focus of demand for managed services is shifting from infrastructure management to areas such as core security and application management, business process automation, cloud management, analytics, AI, edge and observability management.

techaisle smb midmarket managed services demand

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