What will keep channel leaders up at night in 2019? Channel Predictions from Bridget Bisnette

Bridget Bisnette

Riverbed’s channel leader, Bridget Bisnette, offers her predictions for 2019 including what will keep channel professionals up at night and the keys to being successful in the channel throughout the new year.

What will keep channel leaders up at night in 2019?

The evolution of traditional IT channel partners will accelerate in 2019, with more consolidation and shifting business models in response to the changing customer needs and gaps in the availability of talent and/or capabilities.

In response to the changing customer expectations, vendors are digitizing their offerings and business processes. They need to design customer success strategies that support the customer and consider how their partner ecosystem will participate in this new motion.

At the same time, partners will find they are behind the curve in updating their own capabilities (less resale and more managed services) and, in turn, will look to acquire or partner with other companies in order to compete and meet customer’s needs.

Vendors will need provide partners with platforms to add incremental value to customers.

More than ever before, in 2019 channel leaders will need to identify areas where partners will need to invest in order to differentiate and compete.

These channel leaders will need to have a strong understanding of the partners business strategies, key capabilities and resources, and will need to ensure that as vendors they are providing what the partner needs to be successful.

Beyond equipping partners with new tools like telemetry to succeed in their customer relationships, vendors will need to continue motivating partners to add their own incremental value to the customer.

It will be critical for channel partners to add value through their own IP and services to ensure a simple and seamless customer experience.

Transactional channel business models will no longer cut it in 2019.

The key to success for channel partners will be in the ability to transition their business from one that conducts transactional resale with very little services required, to one that offers value-added services and customer success capabilities.

It will no longer be sufficient to transact technology for vendors and to customers – partners will need to provide innovative services (and add their own “IP”) to elevate their customers’ experience and deliver business outcomes.

This transition will be dependent on both the speed at which partners can shift their business models to acquire talent and the availability of talent.

In 2019, we’ll finally see the delivery of real business outcomes for the customer.

Measuring digital transformation efforts will be top of mind for customers.

Over the past several years, there has been a rapid increase in the implementation of digital transformation initiatives across the board.

As we move into an era of everything digital, one of the biggest challenges customers face is the ability to measure the effectiveness and ROI of their digital transformation initiatives, which are absorbing a significant amount of their budgets.

Vendor platforms which monitor the end user experience, without a doubt, will provide customers with the quantifiable results they need to address key business savings, growth opportunities and deliver returns on their digital investments.

Talent will continue to be in high demand, yet will be scarce.

As technology becomes more simplified and software-centric, partners must shift their technical talent to provide consultancy to customers in a way that can be monetized.

Technology budgets are no longer routed through IT exclusively – they are routed through a number of business decision makers and, as a result, tactical skills will need to shift to understand the business benefits of the technology and the context by which the IT benefits are justified.

In 2019, channel partners will experience first-hand competition to acquire valuable human capital.

In summary, 2019 will be the year that both vendors and partners deliver real business outcomes for customers AND the year of channel consolidation.

We – as a community – have never been in a better position to deliver outcomes, and 2019 will be one of the first years that customers will truly be able to see outcomes based on their investments in digital transformation.

Partners will deliver differentiated and valuable services supporting these digital initiatives, and Digital Experience Management tools will underpin this movement, giving customers the ability to measure ROI.

At the same time, talent with the appropriate skills to meet the demand of changing channel business models, will continue to become scarce and in high demand.

As a result, larger channel businesses will begin to acquire smaller practices where top talent may reside.

While poaching is common practice among the channel, it will include vendors competing for the same shrinking talent pool and ultimately lead to major consolidation.

In the long run, and beginning in 2019, we will see fewer larger partner organizations with a greater number of customers.


Want more predictions?  Check out Riverbed CEO Paul Montford’s thoughts on 2019 in this CRN article here.