Digital transformation has been front and center for organizations of all sizes and verticals for years, if not decades. But with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, digital capabilities suddenly and aggressively took center stage, and the adoption of digital tactics became commonplace. In fact, according to a recent survey from McKinsey, from December 2019 to July 2020, organizations underwent three years of digital growth in just a few short months—an incredible acceleration after years of steady growth. Organizations, including channel partners, clamored to adopt digital best practices to remain competitive and agile in a suddenly remote work environment. Now, more than two years later, the result has been a colossal shift in how channel partners conduct their everyday business.
This article looks at some of the ways technology and digitalization are impacting the channel—both now and in the future.
Supporting Accelerated Growth
One of the biggest advantages for organizations using channel partners is the ability to scale and strategically shift resources as needed. The impact of digitalization in this regard has been significant. When the pandemic hit, many organizations turned to their channel partners to help them adopt and enable digital solutions for their customers and a suddenly dispersed workforce. This sudden digital shift was a massive opportunity for channel partners providing cloud implementation and IT support.
Recent Pew research found that as many as 6 out of 10 workers are working from home all or most of the time, dramatically changing the future of work. To support these teams, digital tools—from cloud-based computing systems to communication platforms and ticket systems—are essential.
With dispersed teams and increased remote work, digital security has become increasingly important for everyone—including the channel. Beyond simply protecting company assets, however, there are also growing requirements around data privacy and protection. The launch of GDPR and other customer-data concerns underscores the importance of how customer and prospect information is handled, since mistakes carry potential fines in the thousands (and even millions) of dollars.
Security requirements present a huge opportunity for channel partners with cybersecurity expertise. Companies are suddenly faced with increasingly remote teams and a massive growth in digital communications and marketing efforts. However, they may not have the expertise to ensure they’re securing and protecting customer data.
Marketing Automation and Personalization
Another significant digital change driver that channel partners are increasingly adopting is marketing automation and personalization to help communicate with customers, generate new business, and provide better customer experiences. Automation enables organizations to proactively communicate with customers and potential customers, using their interactions to help guide them through a pre-defined onboarding, support, or acquisition process. Meanwhile, personalization allows channel partners to create customized portal experiences for customers that do not require additional human effort.
Digital Will Continue to Grow
With the rapid adoption of digital across all facets of life—from interactions with online retailers to banking and everything in between—expectations are higher than ever for outstanding digital experiences. The channel has an opportunity to continue to capitalize on this growth pattern by staying on the cutting edge of digital and leveraging new technology not only internally but in customer-facing platforms.