2023 is now underway, making it a great time to think about what’s next for the IT channel. As a leading, global value-added distributor and provider of technology solutions, we find ourselves sitting at the heart of the IT channel ecosystem. This gives us a unique vantage point to offer valuable insights – without the blind spots that other channel participants might have. With no two years the same, here are our top 5 IT channel predictions for 2023.
1. Accelerating digital transformation post-supply chain crisis
The IT industry is up against several obstacles. From inflation, to growing cybersecurity risk, to supply chain disruptions, the global outlook is challenging. Despite all the uncertainties, end-customers will continue investing in digital business initiatives and accelerating digital transformation projects.
Businesses have taken away two major learnings in recent years. The first is that they cannot stop the freight train that is digital transformation, and investments in networking, security, application and change management will not let up.
“With semiconductor availability coming back online and general supply chains improving, we should see many projects which were stalled get back on track in 2023 with continued acceleration of the digital agenda,” says Patrick Aronson, CMO and EVP APAC at Westcon-Comstor. “We know this intimately based on the large backlogs we’re carrying due to last year’s supply chain issues. As Cisco’s largest global value-added distributor, we’re seeing signs of the supply chain improving each week.”
Secondly, as learnt in the pandemic, businesses know that technology is a worthwhile investment in hard times. For example, organisations can leverage (and have leveraged) technology to facilitate business continuity, such as the use of cloud computing or recovery solutions to protect against disruptions.
Of course, investing in technology also keeps businesses competitive, flexible, and agile. Businesses need it to connect employees to each other, to keep the business connected to its customers, and to make connections in new markets.
In the face of adversity, cutting back on investments is not an option. For that reason, we expect end-customers to up their investments this year – not despite 2023’s challenges, but because of them.
2. Building multi-vendor solutions to mitigate security risks
The proliferation of applications and data is characteristically Industry 4.0. But with every year that businesses use apps, data, and the cloud, the more the attack surface expands.
The technology supply chain is a particular risk because it’s a top target for malicious actors. But since no single provider can offer a complete solution, partnerships and alliances across the channel become increasingly important for protecting the chain.
For example, we work with our vendor partners to protect each layer with a specific technology. These technologies come together to create a full solution, making sure that data is well-protected throughout the attack surface.
In a recent webinar, Daniel Hurel, Vice President Westcon EMEA – Cybersecurity & Next-Gen Solutions, shared some cybersecurity tips you can take into 2023:
- Don’t allow newer threats, such as API security, to take precedence over ‘old’ threats (“there are no ‘old’ threats!”)
- Work with experts to craft your cybersecurity measures
- Keep protection of data – your most important asset – top of mind
3. Channel partners focus on financing and data insights
End-user demand is ultimately what drives sales motions, and today, more and more end-users want opex models which leads to subscription-based offerings. The demand itself isn’t new, but it has grown exponentially since the pandemic – so pressure is really mounting for channel partners to transform from traditional resale to as-a-service models.
At Westcon-Comstor, we see that in 2023 the demand for our managed service program solutions will continue to grow exponentially. This includes Flex, our flexible payment solution for partners, as well as our data insights which allow our partners to sell more effectively and manage the customer lifecycle.
“The digital sales room becomes the ‘go-to’ in this environment,” says René Klein, Executive Vice President, Westcon Europe. “This change can be orchestrated by a strong relationship with a distributor that uses their vantage point in the market.
4. A growing need for digital marketplaces
Our partner insights tell us that, more than ever, partners are looking for more efficient digital connections, responsiveness, and ease of engagement when buying products. One way to facilitate this is through digital marketplaces, which we expect to evolve and grow in demand in 2023.
Digital marketplaces allow partners to browse, buy, and track in a single platform, which eliminates much of the administrative burden of buying. But digital marketplaces aren’t just about convenience – they are evolving with the shift to Anything-as-a-Service to empower the customer. As well as self-service functionalities, digital marketplaces often provide resellers with customer data and insights. By having access to these insights, partners can better understand their target market and grow their business on the platform.
5. Responsible Business becomes the only option
Across every industry, companies are under growing scrutiny to practise Responsible Business – but this is especially true in IT distribution because of its many dependencies.
Given our position at the heart of the ecosystem, we see first-hand how Responsible Business can create mutual benefits and contribute to the long-term success of channel relationships. If an organisation can’t demonstrate trustworthiness and credibility through responsible practices, it risks losing business.
As the emphasis on Responsible Business continues, organisations are taking extra steps to ensure corporate responsibility within their organisation – and across those they choose to work with too. The criteria for partnership will become stricter, particularly in areas such as sustainability, and businesses will be expected to comply with each other’s codes of conduct.
Diversity and inclusion will also continue to play a large part of Responsible Business, not only as the right thing to do, but to drive creativity, innovation, and better problem-solving too.