To tackle the big technological issues that society is facing, innovation is key. Vendors can provide the tools for innovation, but it’s partners who are going to offer the solutions which revolutionise our world.

By Riaan Graham, director: sales for sub-Saharan Africa at Ruckus Networks

The best partnerships are based on the simple principle of making each other’s businesses better; sharing the risk, but also the reward and as vendors, we need to invigorate partners, not hold them back.


Find your technology bite

End customers are demanding that partners be experts in next generation technology, and they want solutions now.

Next generation technologies such as smart cities rely on integrated solutions but unfortunately for end customers, products are rarely compatible with each other when bought off the shelf.

That’s why the channel is integral to the success of projects like smart city deployments, smart education or superior hotel WiFi.

In a smart city deployment, the channel has the expertise to create solutions which cover the entire project deployment. Using multiple vendors for different elements of the project, the channel can provide the creativity and knowledge to bridge these devices and technologies.

For example, Ruckus connectivity provides the channel with the opportunity to provide everything from smart traffic control to smart rubbish collection.

The channel can leverage vendor knowledge of verticals to build and offer cutting edge solutions. Partners can then become experts in the best way to apply these technologies to a specific niche, differentiate themselves and develop superior solutions with high profitability.

Specialisation allows partners of all sizes to compete against more general, typically larger, and less dynamic competition. It also enables them to best understand how to integrate next generation technologies as part of complete solutions that meet the demands of end-customers.

The industry has just experienced one of the biggest transitions in its history with the move to cloud, but, already, customer demands are changing again, particularly towards IoT, and vendors cannot let their partners down.

By recognising vertical expertise, there is an opportunity for channel programs to drive these forward rapidly. A specialised approach empowers partners to keep pace with, and meet, customer needs, whether that’s developing solutions which make businesses more effective, or pushing the boundaries of technology with ambitious deployments.


Be your partner’s best friend

Partners and vendors should be working together in the technology eco-system. Partners should be innovating with their suppliers, not competing with them for contracts and projects. For vendors, this competition potentially risks channel investment and commitment to your products. Key to this is letting them compete on value, not price.

This simple approach needs to filter through to how we educate and train partners too. Selling technology in a new world of IoT or artificial intelligence isn’t an easy task.

The challenge for vendors is to help partners cut through this noisy market, invest strategically in channel marketing, provide the training partners need and help them get to market so they can get on with the job of building better solutions.

Part of this requires the industry to make sure that technology is more than just a commodity; it needs to be a living, breathing solution that differentiates partners from competitors.


Simplify to enable and succeed

A synergy between vendors and the channel is what makes innovation work. When it comes to channel programmes, it’s about taking what works, and changing what doesn’t.

There is no doubt that vendors need to make the channel simpler, for the benefit of everyone involved. Fewer classifications coupled with accessible information and resources gives partners a more meaningful place in the program and a simplified pathway to success.

Moreover, by providing support, investing in the channel, allowing partners a sensible transition timeframe and being sensitive to the differences between mature and developing markets, vendors enable partners to become the most successful businesses they can be.

This is further aided by specialising in key verticals. Partners can become industry leaders in niche markets where they can differentiate with technological superiority and expertise, whilst vendors can maximise this advantage with greater brand awareness and investment in lead generation.

A simplified partner program gives partners of all sizes a much clearer roadmap to success, coupled with a more meaningful place in the program and greater access to better resources.

This means partners can focus more on their own businesses, become experts in key verticals and innovate with customers and empower themselves to meet market challenges and customer needs. The channel must thrive, not just survive, in a world with technology at its core.