The hybrid working revolution that changed the world of work, seemingly overnight, is here to stay. What many expected was a temporary precaution in the early stages of the pandemic, is now ingrained in the way businesses operate, with many employees increasingly trusted to work in any location.
There will be significant opportunity for the channel in 2022 to enable and optimise hybrid working. We expect to see substantial investment in hybrid working solutions by enterprise customers but also, crucially, by SMBs. This is driven by two things.
Firstly, there has been a cultural shift in our understanding and acceptance of remote and hybrid work. Employers have learned to trust their people to be productive wherever they are, while employees increasingly expect to be empowered to decide for themselves what working patterns work best for them.
With such a competitive employment market and the skills gap growing, talent recruitment and retention will be critical in 2022. Employers will need to be forward-thinking, responsive and flexible to meet the needs and expectations in an employee’s market. Flexible hybrid working is one such expectation, with Gartner reporting that as many as 39% of knowledge workers could leave if companies insist on a ‘hard return’ to fully on-site work.
Secondly, now we know the shift is not just a short-term fix, we can deliver hybrid working by design rather than necessity, enabled by technology. What may have worked as a stop-gap solution will not be the right solution to meet a business’ long term needs – whether they’re an enterprise or SMB.
SMBs were focussed on maintaining business continuity and invested in solutions that simply got the job done without too much thought into whether the solution was right moving forwards. Now that the dust has settled, SMBs are re-evaluating their needs, opening up new opportunities for the channel to add real value.
Enterprises were often further down the hybrid route, enabled by existing collaboration tools and security protocols. So in 2022 they will focus on network optimisation, enhanced collaboration and increased security of their dispersed people, data and devices by investing in solutions is that are efficient, secure and scalable.
Now we know the shift is not just a short-term fix, we can deliver hybrid working by design rather than necessity, enabled by technology.
— Russell Blackburn
VP Product Management & Marketing, Comstor
To capitalise on this opportunity, the channel needs to live up to its “consultative” reputation and understand what their customers need from their solutions. Whether that’s providing a cloud solution for an enterprise customer or helping an SMB understand what technology is available to match their specific needs and budget.
Underpinning this, channel partners need to offer a portfolio of flexible solutions, with the ability to scale up or down, supported by flexible payment solutions and subscription models that accelerate adoption and drive recurring revenues.