There’s a great deal of talk about the wealth of business opportunities that digitization can create for businesses, if only they are prepared to embrace the technology changes that come with it. However, as many organizations have already discovered, the reality of actually undertaking a digital transformation is much more challenging.
To make things more difficult, digitalization is arriving in waves – first came the development of the internet, followed by the mobile internet. Just when enterprises were starting to leverage these effectively, along came the internet of things. And today, the latest disruptive technology that is emerging is artificial intelligence.
With so much change on so many fronts, many business leaders are struggling to devise a clear strategy – and it’s no wonder. They have to balance competing priorities, namely transforming and driving growth while also minimizing exposure to risk and reducing complexity. And this is in the context of the deluge of information that businesses must now manage. After all, big data is only as valuable as the insights you can extract from it.
At Fujitsu, we recently undertook a survey to understand the extent to which European businesses were Fit for Digital. We found that executives in all sectors have recognized that disruption is going to continue – and that it will continue to intensify. That’s why more than half of them have concluded that, in just five years’ time, their business will not exist in the same form that it is today.
The Channel Opportunity
In this context, we see a unique opportunity for partners to benefit from supporting enterprises through this challenging time. The survey also revealed that two thirds (67%) of those C-level executives believe partnering with technology experts is essential for their future. European businesses want to transform their businesses, but they recognize that they can’t do it alone. They need the help of channel partners to guide them through the process, helping them ride the waves of digital progress.
The opportunity for the Channel mirrors the opportunity that businesses face: digitalization creates value, in terms of expanding the base of potential customers, opening up new markets, and creating the need for new services. And, just as businesses need to transform to take advantage of digitalization, so does the channel. Successful channel partners will take their cue from customers to drive their evolution – their changing needs will shape tomorrow’s channel.
Where once the role of the channel partner was governed by the range of products available to sell, we are seeing a shift in emphasis to the customer, and the business needs they need to address. For example, many companies are looking for managed services – so they can focus on their core business. This trend is disrupting the familiar channel pricing model. At the same time, customers no longer want to buy technology. They are increasingly looking for partners who can solve their business problems by applying technology intelligently. This also means that the channel sales process is becoming longer and more professional services-led. Deeper technical expertise is also needed, to design the right combination of solutions.
This represents an inflection point for the Channel. Those organizations that can undertake their own digital transformations to provide the support that customers need will find that many paths are open to them – from selling business solutions, to specialization to international cooperation. Those that do not find a way to stay relevant will soon become obsolete.
But our partners are not alone in seizing the initiative. We recognize our partners as being an integral part of how we do business so we’ll be with them every step of the way. Our SELECT partners will have access to training to develop the new skills they need. They will also have access to a new portfolio of lucrative products and services, for example Internet of things, hybrid IT and big data solutions that have not traditionally been offered for Channel sales. Finally, we will provide the tools that facilitate the process of embracing digitalization for our partners. In this way, we are going to work alongside them to help them ride the waves of digital transformation with their customers, rather than being battered by them. Watch this space.