Saturday, July 20, 2024

It’s Time to Beef Up your Channel Tech Stack

By Tom Perry, CEO, Sherpa

A wave of tech investment is flowing through the Channel with global IT budgets set to grow by 26% in 2022. As businesses spend more to augment their operations the ripple effects will be felt far and wide.

The tricky part will undoubtedly be understanding how you can invest wisely and get the best results from automation – from personalisationto PRM.

Firstly, it’s important to understand why firms are on a mission to install better tech at their organisations. This is being driven by a combination of several key factors:• Prompted by the pandemic, Partners and Vendors are shifting to digital-only marketing to reach remote buyers• Lack of capability in existing tech to optimise across business lines, sectors and geographies• The need for tech to help companies respond to different business models and Partner compensation• A general willingness among Vendors to review and switch tech to keep pace with accelerating change

Against this backdrop, and in a fiercely competitive environment, it’s clear you’ll need multiple applications to manage the disparate parts of business which Channel professionals must get to grips with.

Fitting everything together for an efficient tech stack will be the difference between success and failure.

Tech stack and the PRM land-grab

Conscious of their existing solutions no longer being fit for purpose, many Vendors are seeking improved PRM solutions as part of their tech stack. PRM was traditionally a one-program, end-to-end solution but the marketplace is rapidly evolving with specific point solutions gaining traction.

PRM is an area where rapid evolution of technology is expected. During the past year there have been several large venture capital deals, with Impartner’s $50m funding just one example of major investment in the marketplace.

Digital-first Channel management and automation are becoming vital methods for Vendors to drive efficiencies – from data integration and rewarding individuals, to visibility of Channel commercials – as well as Partner Experience. The technology can help organisations take a big step towards eliminating human error in manual Channel management processes.

Starting with a review of existing technology is the best first step if you’re looking to make an investment in better PRM. Find the right external Partner that has comprehensive expertise in PRM systems and understands the benefits of tech-driven tools to activate Partner communities, including:• Lead management• Partner assessment• MDF management• Surveying

Managing marketplace through tech

Marketplaces were a key topic of discussion in 2021. Analysts and early-adopting Vendors are now paving the way for ecosystems, but these companies tend to be some way ahead of the market itself.

One reason for this is that the cost of marketplace for Vendors is not insubstantial – it is a significant investment both in terms of time and resource. But as marketplace continues to grow and evolve, there is a serious risk of Vendors being left behind if they fail to consider marketplace strategy as part of long-term planning.

On ecosytems, Forrester analyst Jay McBain states 76% of CEOs think their current business model will be unrecognisable in five years time: “The number-one reason they said this was [because of] ecosystems – that in the next decade whatever business or industry I’m in, I can’t do it alone. I have to build a team and a set of partnerships that’s going to take me forward.”

While the sentiment is right, and the wheels are in motion, ecosystems are yet to experience rapid growth. Tech could well be a catalyst, however. In marketplaces, automation looks set to create higher levels of exposure for Vendors, helping them to forge connections with multiple potential Partners rather than simply feeding off traditional one-to-one relationships.

Tech will also drive marketplace incentive programs and increased personalisation thanks to the introduction of a wide range of communication strategies.

Harnessing the right platforms to make it in modern marketplace will be vital to your firm’s success – now and in the future.

Don’t get trapped by ‘set and forget’

All too often, businesses make the mistake of implementing new tech in their stack but overlook the need to train their teams to use it.

And that doesn’t just mean letting them learn the ropes once. Tech now comes with so many features and updates that ongoing training is required. Add regulatory changes into the mix, such as proposed updates to how firms use cookies, and your Channel team must be fully prepared and flexible for change.

So, avoid falling into the ‘set and forget’ tech trap by ensuring they stay up to speed as your organisation scales.

That’s just a whistle-stop tour of tools and tactics a renewed focus on Channel technology is bringing. In times of change, reviewing and refreshing your tech stack can help your business ride the wave of investment that’s making our part of the IT sector an exciting place to be.


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