Rated a key emerging market, South Africa is ranked the 20th biggest consumer of ICT products and services.

By Julie Noizeux, channel sales leader, South Africa at Veritas Technologies

The IT industry, in particular, is interconnected and co-dependent, and this will ring truer than ever in 2020 as vendors and their partners continue to take advantage of an increasingly digitalised economy where customer needs are rapidly evolving. Success will be driven by how well this ecosystem collaborates and responds to the changing market.

Here’s my take on how I see 2020 panning out for the vendor and channel communities:

The channel has the opportunity to offer a value-add service that cuts through the hype: for years, vendors and analysts have been promising the next big thing – from AI to IoT and edge computing. Much of this hype is now turning into reality. The channel’s role this year will be to think about how the latest technology can be applied to solve the new problems and benefit from the new opportunities the digital age offers. Whether it’s reducing complexity or increasing efficiency, the pace of change is accelerating, and the onus is on partners to understand the technology, know how it positively impacts customers and then work strategically with vendors to develop a new approach for customers.

Collaboration is key among vendors and partners: in 2020 we’ll see technology companies ceasing to operate in a siloed manner or working solely with the channel partner community. Instead, vendors will start looking to collaborate more with other vendors in order to create ecosystem solutions that solve bigger customer issues in this digital age. After all, end-user satisfaction and profitability are the ultimate goals for all parties. And integration and specialisation mean everything to the modern customer, so we’ll see more of this in the channel in the year ahead

The channel will take customers on the second part of their cloud journey: the hybrid cloud trend is on the rise, with Microsoft Azure’s revamped hybrid cloud strategy and the launch of AWS Outposts taking enterprises by storm and accelerating the move towards hybrid cloud.

As businesses move more workloads to the cloud, the channel will evolve from simply managing SLAs to offering a more profitable and consultative approach. The channel will be well positioned to offer counsel and on how to secure data in the cloud, move it around to remain agile and generate further insights. All of this will help the channel build more of a long-term relationship with customers and create a bigger role for themselves.

Channel as a service: as partners look for new ways to become a trusted advisor and automate processes, we will see an emergence of new platforms designed to bring together multiple technologies that are guaranteed to work together. For example, combining security, backup and workload technologies with an automated billing platform based on a partner’s integration capabilities.

However, the channel will need to have a very clear plan surrounding the technologies they want to integrate. It will require them to understand a vendor’s roadmap, its integration technologies and have a strong go-to-market plan that will continue to add value to the customer after the sale.

For the best chance of success in 2020, the channel will need to be innovative and find new ways to solve the challenges facing their customers in this fourth industrial revolution. The focus should be on offering more value-add services, better collaboration, and redefining business models to ensure everyone gets a cut in the web of the technology market that is interconnected and co-dependent. Those fit enough will not just survive, they will thrive in the year ahead.