3 Words to Describe the Channel

Many people are bullish on the channel’s value and contributions to the Digital Age.

By Larry Walsh

I recently asked people on LinkedIn for three words to describe the channel in 2017. The idea was to get people’s gut impression of the value and purpose of the channel, particularly in a year that’s undeniably transitional and transformative in the industry and marketplace.

Generally speaking, the more than two-dozen people offering these pithy descriptions about the channel were positive about the role of partners.

The most common words applied to the channel are cloud, services, transformation, Internet of Things, and profitable. These labels reflect the changing nature of channel partners in vendor go-to-market strategies. As products and business models morph into services, channel partners are becoming the conduit for delivering cloud resources and complementary offerings.

Other generally positive words used to describe partners and the channel include opportunity, nimble, progress, and value. While many people have questioned the role and value of the channel in the digital age, when nearly every IT resource is available via the cloud, many channel players continue to see the value of partners in the go-to-market equation.

More interesting even than the words used to describe partners are the phrases:

  • Business model evolution
  • Changes bring opportunity
  • Connectivity without limits
  • Third platform specialists
  • True digital transformation
  • Cognitive era transformation
  • Deep in transformation

Each of those phrases conveys an optimistic view of the channel and the ability of partners to effect positive change with the new and emerging technologies that are reshaping businesses. Many people say the channel isn’t working fast enough to retool around next-generation technologies and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Nevertheless, the prevailing sentiment among participants of this “poll” is that partners will prove to be instrumental – if not essential – in deploying new business models, technologies, and services.

Not every comment, however, was positive. And that, too, is reflective of the tumultuous state of the channel during this transition period. One person describes the channel as “carrying keyboards aimlessly.” Another person said, “the cheese moved.” And someone else mentioned that it’s a “jungle out there.” These phrases align with some other words that were thrown into the mix, such as competition, complex, challenging, and consolidation.

For sure, the channel is challenged. The changing business models are causing disruption, forcing reseller businesses to merge in order to maximize resources, and increasing competition for customers. Surely not every partner is turning the corner or will make the transition to new technologies and business models.

After reading through the responses a few times, I was left with one unmistakable impression: The channel – vendors, distributors, and partners – working together to solve technology problems and enable business processes remains essential today and tomorrow. As Regan Ogner of Intel Security wrote, “Together Is Power.” While that phrase is her company’s channel tagline, it’s nonetheless true of the channel ecosystem as a whole.

What three words would you use to describe the channel? Send them to me at lmwalsh@the2112group.com.


Larry Walsh, The 2112 Group

Larry Walsh is the founder, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group. Follow him on social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

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