The next wave of innovation: Three predictions for IT channel this year

By Tim Britt, Director of Sales and Channel at Dropbox.

The last year has been a time of rapid change for the IT channel, as organisations have adapted to post-pandemic normality. We have seen global supply chain fluctuations, labour shortages and emerging technologies all of which have had a huge impact on the industry. However, the channel has demonstrated its resilience and flexibility during this time, working with partners to provide the right technology and solutions that will meet t the changing needs of their customers.

The IT channel continues to connect and integrate so many crucial elements of today’s tech infrastructure for both work and home. We see partner services supporting the vendor ecosystem of products. The future involves multi-product offerings, and this is key to support the many complex workflows customer are presented with each day.

So in a world surrounded by innovation and change, what are the key trends to keep an eye on over the coming months and how might they impact the channel industry?

Rise in green energy

For consumers, going green is becoming an even greater part of their lives - from the need to adhere to expanding low-emission zones, growing shifts to veganism and increasing consciousness about reusability. But for businesses, going green is seeing massive shifts on an industry-wide level.

With increasing global support for green energy, we are seeing a growing appetite for the technology that can help support that transition in the channel industry. For businesses, this means that they will need to collaborate more on research that can help make this move easier. Cooperation throughout different parts of the renewables industry is essential, with the cheapest and most plentiful sources of renewable energy - wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal - found in different parts of EMEA, setting up strong collaboration is essential.

Achieving this in the channel industry requires partners, distributors and vendors to ensure that they are providing a suite of technology - from hardware to SaaS - which can enable the growth of green energy. This might also look like, ensuring that they partner with businesses that source 100% renewable energy for their data centres, or planning out ways to achieve carbon neutrality. Ultimately, in 2023, green energy will be a positive differentiator and enable partners, distributors and vendors to win.

Face-to-face business

Last year, we also saw a significant rise in the return of in-person meetings and international travel taking place in the channel industry - and we’ll see the same over the coming months. That means that we can expect to see a greater number of partner, distributor and vendor events hitting the calendar.

For the channel industry, these face-to-face connections are essential for building and maintaining strong relationships, establishing greater trust and fostering even better collaboration. This in turn means that channel leaders are able to better communicate and understand their users and the products they need, because the deeper the knowledge and the closer the relationships, the more business success we’ll see driven across the board for everyone.

Distributed workforce

Besides this, we will continue to see remote working move the needle in the channel industry. With the perks of greater flexibility and freedom for both workers and businesses, the demands for technology solutions are changing. For example, at Dropbox, we’re Virtual First, so remote work is our typical day-to-day, but we meet up regularly for in-person collaboration. And it’s not just us. Distributed working is continuing to change across the globe this year as many more major corporations offer flexible working and even more SMBs embrace a distributed workforce. This will be a huge driver in IT channel sales this year as businesses look for more innovative tools that have the ability to support this way of working.

At the moment, one of the biggest areas for businesses - especially SMBs - is the fact that many employees are still using their own hardware. With the growth of sophisticated cyber attacks, businesses must ensure they’re using an offering that provides a secure data platform - whilst also enabling collaboration, the use of multiple applications and workflows, and the ability for IT to control the flow of files.

For the channel industry, all of these changes mean that partners will need to ensure that they are offering a product selection that offers security, balance, support, and collaboration across different time zones.

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