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Reinventing the IT channel for digital Innovation

Vincent Charpiot
April 14, 2020

My recent blog posts have described the changing nature of IT infrastructure, the demise of the on-premises data center, and the effects on traditional IT and I&O organizations. There’s another interesting aspect to consider:

How does the digital transformation era impact channels organizations serving traditional IT organizations?

More specifically: With infrastructure moving to the cloud and becoming commoditized, what will be the new source of competitive differentiation for channel partners, and why should IT leaders care? The answer is that there is enormous opportunity for both channel partners and IT leaders to benefit from the paradigm shift.The hallmark of the digital age is a massive influx of new innovations. AI, RPA, machine learning, chatbots, analytics, IoT software and hardware, virtual reality, SaaS and PaaS, blockchain, new cybersecurity methods and tactics, enterprise social software, the list goes on and on.

No enterprise IT organization is equipped to handle all that innovation.
No IT organization has the staff, skill sets, technical resources, experience, or budget to keep pace with the myriad possibilities that have emerged, let alone master them all.

Channel partners can help fill that void, one piece at a time, and thereby establish both new sources of revenue and stronger relationships with customers. IT channels can create new capabilities that harness emerging innovations and clearly demonstrate to customers how these capabilities add business value and strengthen IT’s role in delivering on business goals.

Let’s consider just one example: the adoption of AI capabilities. Clearly, companies are intrigued by the “promise” and “potential” of AI. A recent Capgemini study shows that 78% of organizations implementing AI increase operational efficiency by more than 10% (in fact, Harley Davidson increased sales leads by 2,930% in three months by implementing an AI tool). But most organizations prefer to acquire AI capabilities via enterprise applications rather than build their own capabilities internally.

The opportunity for channel partners is to build their own core competence in AI and then embed AI technologies within new software offerings. This can include incorporating advanced analytics, augmented intelligence, edge AI, and other capabilities; or creating AI PaaS or AI platform services to create intelligence processes. These offerings are not traditional “products” but capabilities that can be integrated into multiple offerings and customized for specific requirements. This in turn enables channel partners to develop their own intellectual property in emerging technologies, creating yet another source of competitive differentiation and potential revenue streams.

For IT channel organizations, the key considerations are which emerging innovations best fit their current business models and core competencies; and what kinds of investments would be required to exploit the market potential for new offerings in that category.

To help answer these questions, consider CompTIA’s recent assessment of the top emerging tech categories driving growth. They included, in order: IoT software, IoT hardware, SaaS & PaaS, IoT connectivity, robotics/drones, AR/VR, AI platforms and applications, big data/analytics, social software, and next-generation security.

Which of these categories are best aligned with your current staffing, skill levels, and strategic directions? And which requires the smallest incremental investment in staffing, training, and resource acquisition to allow your company to create and sell new offerings to customers?

Another consideration: where can you get help? This may be an opportunity to explore digital supply chains and partner-to-partner collaboration as a way to bridge gaps in skills, competencies, and IP, as well as a way to expand your ecosystem of both partners and customers.

Of course, partnerships can be a dicey proposition for both sides, and channel-to-channel partnerships can involve competition as well as cooperation. But as long as both sides do their due diligence, there can be enormous benefits for all – particularly for the end customer.

Takeaway for IT leaders

Digital transformation can open huge new opportunities for channel organizations – if they are willing to reinvent themselves. Capgemini is uniquely positioned to help both channel partners and enterprises maximize the promise of digital transformation – because we are committed to getting everything working together, from technologies to teams to suppliers and partners.

I would recommend that you read the blog Introducing AI – simplifying the starting point, in this blog Priya Ganesh explains AI with an interesting analogy, when it comes to implementing AI, you need to walk before you can run.

We’d love to tell you more and show you how we can facilitate your digital transformation initiatives. Contact us and let’s talk.