Nobody can dispute that 2020 was a challenging year. No industry or individual has been left unchanged by the global pandemic, and this level of upheaval makes predicting future trends harder than ever.
However, from the technologies being adopted to consumer expectations, some trends will translate into attractive opportunities for Fujitsu SELECT channel partners in 2021.
Technology trends – remote work, the need for security and hybrid cloud deployments
The pandemic caused an investment spike in various technologies to enable remote working as businesses scrambled to keep their operations running with a mainly home-based workforce.
This trend will continue into 2021 as home working remains the norm, and companies implement further measures to help employees collaborate effectively from outside the office.
The exponential rise in homeworking also drives a renewed focus on cyber-security to protect precious data beyond the corporate network's protection. We also expect to see a continuation of the hybrid cloud adoption we’ve witnessed over the last few years – with businesses looking to optimize workloads across on-premises equipment, public and private clouds.
Together, these trends present enormous opportunities for Channel partners. As IT estates continue to grow more complex, business leaders will increasingly lean on trusted partners to keep their infrastructures up to date and keep pace with the business’ requirements.
New ways of working – harnessing the power of the ecosystem
The sheer depth and breadth of knowledge required to manage these vast estates will also shape the IT channel in 2021 and beyond. Many more partners will double down to focus on their unique skills rather than covering all technology bases.
This focus on individual superpowers will, in turn, accelerate the partner-to-partner collaborations that we are already seeing. These will also open new opportunities for channel partners of all sizes to extend beyond their traditional scope into new geographies and allow even small partners to add value to large-scale projects.
We have put a new ecosystem in place to make it easy for partners to collaborate more easily – read more about them here.
Growth markets – education, public sector and healthcare
We expect significant opportunities for channel partners in all industries. However, a few key sectors will significantly benefit from urgent investment in technology – particularly the public sector, education, and healthcare.
Education saw a temporary spike in 2020 as teachers and learners were equipped with tablets and notebooks to enable remote learning. In 2021, the focus will turn to content management and collaboration tools and capabilities that offer new distance learning features.
The public sector also represents a huge opportunity. Despite much talk of digital initiatives, most governments still have a long way to digitalize their services.
We also anticipate opportunities in the healthcare industry, where Covid-19 has underscored the pressing need to share medical records between clinics, hospitals, and medical facilities. Artificial intelligence also presents an enormous opportunity for the healthcare industry, from diagnosis support to predictive analysis, and in improving the patient experience.
Skills shortages and training
A reoccurring theme for 2021 will be the increasing complexity of technology. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing shortfall in the number of skilled workers needed to help businesses manage this complexity.
Ultimately, a business’ ability to leverage transformative technologies is gated by its access to the specialist talent needed to implement them. Consequently, the ability to recruit, train, and hold on to workers with relevant skills will play a larger role than ever in 2021 business success.
The desire to effectively leverage growing corporate data sets and the shortage of specialized data science and analytics skills will lead businesses to turn to trusted channel partners to fill the gaps.
Trust becoming an integral part of purchasing decisions
Trust and integrity have been part of Fujitsu’s DNA – and this is the basis of our human-centric innovation that uses technology to solve the issues that society faces. Trust is becoming critical to many more groups – and is a foundational element of a positive partner experience.
The pandemic has heightened public awareness of organizations’ ethics and their business practices. Growing numbers of consumers are evaluating businesses in terms of the value they create for society and their overarching purpose in addition to tangible, measurable factors such as their dedication to sustainability. Both companies and consumers want to rely on technology, even as it becomes increasingly opaque.
The scrutiny of each business’s values will continue in 2021 and extend to their supply chains, ecosystems and partners. As partner ecosystems become increasingly important, channel partners who can clearly articulate their purpose will be at an advantage.
In conclusion, whatever 2021 holds, we know that we will all need to reimagine the new normal both for us all as individuals and for the IT Channel as a whole. Before the pandemic is brought under control, we also know that taking care of our colleagues and our customers will remain a priority.
But we also know that the channel has succeeded in navigating the crisis so far – showing resolve and resilience in the face of adversity. Our ecosystem partners have pivoted, adapted and innovated to meet customers’ changing demands and finding solutions to the new challenges that have arisen. And the way they have tackled this adversity and come out the other side more robust and more resilient shows us that whatever 2021 brings, our ecosystem is ready for it.