Despite the turmoil of the last few months, longstanding relationships are at the heart of why the channel has persevered. From vendor and distributors through to the end-users, relationships is what the channel does best, and support for not only surviving but also thriving has been, and will continue to be, key in helping firms to navigate these unchartered waters.
Turning back the clock to March 2020, when the first of many lockdown periods began, the months ahead were shrouded in uncertainty, although it soon became apparent that agility and flexibility would be crucial.
Technology is a vehicle for positive change
Over the years, digital solutions have been seen as more of a cost than an enabler for enhancing the user experience – whether that be channel partners’ own employees or the staff and customers of their own clients.
The pandemic has served as a turning point in this respect. When businesses shifted to work from home strategies, and, more recently, work from anywhere models, technology was quickly called on to make this happen. It’s out of this situation that savvy tools have been given a platform to show what they can do; that they aren’t merely an unnecessary expenditure, but the cornerstone of collaboration and customer service for workforces far and wide, whether office-based, hybrid, or distributed.
This is where the ‘experiential’ element comes to the forefront for the entire channel. Seemingly, there has been a wave of realisation that tech is the catalyst for people not only benefitting from an improved work-life balance, but for streamlining operations in general.
Providing portfolios that deliver
The tsunami of reactivity and digital investment we’ve seen businesses make throughout the course of the pandemic means many are now realising they’re ‘out of sync’ with their IT infrastructure. A McKinsey & Company study, for example, found that the estimated speed of this digital acceleration is seven years.
Only now, as a sense of the ‘new normal’ is in sight, are decision-makers able to take time to stop, breathe, and catch up with their investments. But this can only be done with the right tools in place.
Now more than ever, customers are looking to their tech providers to help them recalibrate and remain relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace. However, to gain and maintain the commercial edge, they’re looking to unite their internal teams, enhance customer relationships, and streamline the way they work.
Technology has the power to do this. Taking unified communications and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom as an example, their adoption rate has grown incrementally over the last 18 months – and is only set to continue as hybrid working becomes a mainstay.
Data that drives an enhanced experience
As leaders look ahead to a post-pandemic future, it’s clear the channel has to collaborate and innovate to offer end-users that ‘differential’; the tools that empower senior leaders to improve their business and their teams to implement change.
For instance, it’s estimated that one telephone call alone generates 600 pieces of data – with video calls creating even more. Without context, however, this intelligence is pointless for organisations. There needs to be analysis to truly understand what this means and to drive efficiencies and informed business decisions forward.
This is where the channel’s focus is, and quite rightly should, be heading, not only to benefit customers but to fuel its own growth, too. End-users want to be able to monitor their business productivity, staff wellbeing, and customer satisfaction. They need to know where resources are scarce or surplus to requirement, to save both money and time, alongside improving employee and, in turn, client contentment.
If companies aren’t unlocking their data, how do they do this? How do they know how their workforce is responding to operating remotely, when additional support may be needed, or even whether collaboration software licences are being used to their full potential? The answer is they don’t; they’re effectively operating in the dark.
Digital transformation will continue to form a critical piece of the corporate puzzle, but technology that provides a ‘single pane of glass’ through which all important intelligence can be viewed and understood is what will facilitate an enhanced experience, as organisations look towards the ‘new normal’. As businesses look towards the channel for the tools they need to make this a reality, it’s a collective responsibility to make sure this is made possible.
John Shannon is partner director at Tiger
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