Channel partners say customers’ digital investments are more strategic — BT and Cisco

The study, which looked to uncover the mood of the UK channel in response to the ongoing pandemic, and revealed levels of optimism among channel partners, with businesses continuing to adapt to the evolving landscape.

91% of channel partners surveyed by BT and Cisco believe businesses are prioritising digital transformation plans for the foreseeable future, while 82% expressed belief that digitally equipped organisations were significantly less vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic.

The report also found that partnerships have been critical to ongoing nationwide progress, with 96% of channel partners remaining operational thanks to channel support.

Along with this optimism, however, has been a sense of caution due to continued uncertainty. While the majority agree that managing costs is an immediate priority, the research also indicates focus on changing customer demands.

69% of respondents said that demand for bandwidth had increased during the Covid-19 crisis, while 62% saw increased demand for collaboration tools, and a third (34%) saw shorter procurement times demanded more frequently as businesses look to adopt tools far faster.

Organisations are also highly concerned about cyber security, according to the study, with 70% of channel partners looking for external support from sources such as managed service providers (MSPs), to help their customers combat cyber security threats.

In addition, nearly half (44%) are prioritising relationships with suppliers which have strong cyber security ecosystems.

“The rapid digital acceleration from the outset of the pandemic has started to settle but the consistently evolving environment means businesses must continue to evaluate how best to progress,” said Gavin Jones, channel sales director at BT’s Wholesale Unit.

“We’re seeing a shift in the way channel partners and their customers are considering a long-term strategic approach to digital investments, including permanent changes in working practices for distributed teams of people. The research indicates a desire and need to handle complex technology via third parties, which presents a huge opportunity for channel growth and, more broadly, bodes well for the technology sector in Britain.

“At BT, we’re at the forefront of this technology revolution. We know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all; adding true value comes from understanding customer pain points and then developing innovative solutions to match. We’ve spoken with partners and our continued support, throughout this period and beyond, has been the most comprehensive in the telecoms channel – we’re dedicated to helping CPs and their customers to look forwards.”

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Chintan Patel, chief technologist at Cisco UK, commented: “As the pandemic persists, it’s clear that channel partners and their customers are looking to transform their emergency digital responses for the long-term.

“CPs highlighted cost savings through automation, enhanced agility, flexibility, and increased security as key strategic benefits. As a result, the benefits and returns on these technology investments can be viewed as a dividend, giving UK businesses a return over the years to follow.”

Permanent change of operations

According to the UK channel, the demand for new technologies is rooted in reimagined offices and expected continuations of hybrid offices, leading to a shift in ways that customers work.

84% anticipate that the pandemic experience will transform company cultures for the long-term, while channel partners themselves are gaining widespread benefits of remote working, with 90% reporting that their productivity is the same or higher than in the office.

Looking forward, nearly half (49%) believe that a new hybrid working model will prevail for customers, while 15% predict a predominantly virtual working model. Both options will provide growth opportunities for technology providers, given the possibility of a new breed of remote working solutions.

“A blend of old world and new world is where we’d like to get to as an organisation, taking the best of both situations into the future,” said Justin Coombes, marketing director at Gamma.

“New benefits such as expanded talent pools and more flexible working conditions leading to higher productivity are just some of the advantages, so all businesses need to engage with the positive outcomes of hybrid working this year and beyond.”

100 senior decision makers at 100 different UK telecom channel partners, with additional information coming from in-depth interviews with senior personnel from BT Wholesale, Cisco UK and Gamma Group. You can find the full whitepaper here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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