A global recession may be on the horizon for 2023. The tell-tale signs are rising inflation, interest rate hikes, and a significant drop in home prices. While the U.S. unemployment rate is moderately stable at 3.7%, there have been plenty of layoffs in the technology sector, which may forecast more aggressive cuts in the year ahead.

The debate is still open about whether a recession will indeed occur, but it is prudent now for organizations and channel partners to “hope for the best but expect the worst.” Here are some ways channel partners can switch things up in 2023 to create a more robust and healthier partner ecosystem that withstands any recession.

Bolster Your Marketing Efforts

As with any business, your brand is your most important asset. When partnering with a trusted and respected vendor, getting their endorsement can boost your credibility and trust. If your vendor offers a partner marketing program, leveraging that can boost your revenue and sales. The biggest challenge is getting noticed. With so much noise in the marketplace, standing out from the crowd can be especially difficult.

The important thing is to get started. Don’t be shy about using social media to pitch your services. The rewards might pay off sooner than expected.

If your vendor offers marketing development funds (MDF), leverage those dollars. As one source summarizes, “These net-new funds can then be used to finance marketing campaigns (e.g., social media or email), collateral development, or in some cases, tradeshow attendance.”  The key is to put yourself out there as a credible thought leader who provides customer value at every turn.

Pivot to AI-Enabled Platforms

Since the old IT/business divide broke down a long time ago, this advice might seem intuitive enough for a channel partner whose bread and butter is business technology. However, a surprising amount of legacy equipment and processes are still embraced by organizations today, including channel partners. Traditional “linear” businesses offer products and services and control the supply chains that distribute them.

But as Thomas Davenport has observed, even a legacy business can pivot quickly to becoming a “multi-sided platform” (businesses that link services that reduce customer friction). As he points out, “A few ‘legacy’ companies have already created AI-enabled platform models. Using these models, the companies are generating more customers, leading to more data, leading to better models, leading to better customer offerings — a virtuous circle.”

The platform business model applies very appropriately to the partner-vendor relationship. By applying AI models to their network, vendors can create a data-driven ecosystem of new customer offerings that enhance their products and services. Channel partners, in turn, can play an integral part in this process by helping design and support seamless processes that reduce friction in the customer journey.

Get Ready for the Metaverse

The metaverse has been in the news a lot lately. Not only has Goldman Sachs pegged its potential value at $8 trillion in China alone, but the technology seems destined to transform everything from purchasing products, watching movies, and medical visits to industrial design and manufacturing. As Shaily Sinha writes, “Apart from being a successor of the modern internet, Metaverse will be the next evolution of digital platforms.” This represents the chance of a lifetime — perhaps not unlike standing on the cusp of the early internet in 1996. Channel partners can start to experiment with the metaverse by:

  • Purchasing a VR headset and organizing demo sessions to draw out interest in the metaverse;
  • Building virtual product showrooms, hosting virtual meetings, and developing a series of easy use cases;
  • Creating B2B and B2C content and learning how to monetize it;
  • Socializing your interest and building strategic partnerships.

Ultimately, the metaverse is about building an ecosystem of connections that provide value, reduce friction, and enhance the customer experience. The realm of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality will fundamentally transform how organizations operate at every level. Channel partners can usher in the new virtual realm of business by adopting tools and technologies at their disposal today. But the time to act is now.

Key Takeaways

Despite fears of a global recession, channel partners must begin today to shift their mindset to focus on the next realm of business transformation. Creating value starts with a decision to set yourself apart from the pack. Keeping innovative is not easy but requires flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to take risks. Channel partners must think outside the box to embrace innovative business models that prepare for the next big shift in how society lives, works, and plays.

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