Osama AlHaj-Issa, regional channel director, Middle East and Turkey, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, offers guidelines for channel partners to thrive in an evolving technology environment.
Channel partners must be optimistic about the future, despite political uncertainty in some countries in the Middle East. The region has a higher percentage of youth and so mobility is a necessity for the new workforce and the young society that it represents. Mobility is a huge trend that is sweeping the Middle East and the demand for mobility will only increase. Channel partners need to align with vendors that have high business growth potential, provide healthy margins and have cutting-edge technology.
Channel partners that develop early capabilities in new technologies will be the ones who will be most successful. For example, in the mobility domain, Mobility Engagement solution for public-facing enterprises is a revolutionary technology. This is a technology that every enterprise that serves public in one way or another has endorsed immediately and requested to test in their premises. Mobility Engagement solution is comprised of several components such as ‘way finding’ solution, mobility analytical engine, and targeted advertising system. Customers such as hospitals, large educational institutes, malls, airports, stadiums and similar organisations need this solution to enhance customer service, satisfaction and loyalty. Mobility Engagement technology has vast revenue generation potential, if utilised well.
The cloud is also a huge trend, which is accelerating within the region. The channel partners will need to be able to implement cloud-based solutions in public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructure modes to meet the varying needs of customers.
IoT is another trend that is gaining momentum. Partners should build competencies in IoT analytics and trend analysis solutions as well as securing IoT based devices at the network edge.
Marketing – a mission-critical element for success
Marketing has elevated to mission-critical status for channel partners and the vendors they represent. To survive and thrive, channel partners must effectively implement marketing, using a variety of tightly integrated outbound and inbound marketing tactics, all focused on building awareness and generating sales leads. Channel partners should reconsider marketing and there are primarily four reasons for that. First, sourcing or selection of IT related products or services has shifted. Second, competition has intensified. Now channel partners face greater competition from local, regional, national, on-line and non-traditional competitors. Third, marketing has changed dramatically. The modern marketing mix focuses on search authority, thought leadership and lead generation, and importantly, is delivering dramatic and measurable results. Fourth, historically channel partners tend to spend less time, effort, resources and investment in marketing than other industries. But for the factors above, now must make marketing a higher priority, or risk failure.
Successful vendor partnerships
Understanding customer needs and working closely with vendor partners’ sales and engineering team to build the best solution to match or exceed these requirements means getting the business closer to them. Readiness and early engagement are the two basic components for a successful partnership. We work closely with partners to enable their sales, pre-sales and post sales to represent us in each of these areas. This ensures customers of high quality delivery of the proposed solution and services. It also maximises channel scope since services usually bring bigger margins to our partners.
One of the biggest challenges facing the channel today is managing cash flows and receivables since it impacts working capital. This calls for most effective financial planning and management. Organisations that are able to do so, will eventually succeed.