'Great Companies Are Built in Tough Times': How Partners Are Thriving in 2020

Some partners not just surviving but thriving in 2020. Here are secrets to their success.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

October 20, 2020

5 Min Read
Time to Thrive

Channel analyst Canalys reports a 4% growth in the EMEA channel in the first three quarters of 2020. This compares to an overall EMEA GDP decline of 9% during the same period.

“There is no question that channel has had a good pandemic,” noted Canalys CEO, Steve Brazier.

But what are partners’ secrets to success when it comes to surviving and thriving in the new environment? That was the topic of a recent discussion at CompTIA’s EMEA conference.

Tech Data UK & Ireland’s managing director, David Watts, said there are two aspects to consider.


Tech Data’s David Watts

“The fourth emergency service” — that’s how Watts describes the channel in the first phase when lockdown started. He said the successful partners were those “who reacted fastest to support businesses and governments working from home. It was around mobility solutions, hardware – people running desktops, notebooks – and everything that enabled that to happen.”

Following that initial phase, it was “those who understood their customers’ needs beyond the basics,” said Watts. “Those who really understood the domain their customers are working in, they’re the ones that are thriving. MSPs and VARs especially supported their customers’ changing environments. I see great IoT solutions going in, analytics and better decision-making and moving workloads to the cloud.”

Helping Customers Make Better Decisions

Hollie Whittles, director of Purple Frog Systems, said the MSP leveraged technology to provide a business service to customers.


Purple Frog Systems’ Hollie Whittles

“We provide data analytics solutions, working in many different verticals. [Some] clients have had a really hard time in lockdown,” she said.

Purple Frog was instrumental in getting its customers back to their physical workplaces safely.

“We used our advanced analytics solutions and tools like machine learning to plan, model and predict customer behaviour. We’ve been working with a national chain of gyms. They wanted to know the capacity limitations within each gym to know when they could open and how busy they [could be]. But the world’s constantly changing and we’re getting different requests daily. So, we help our clients use these models to help make better decisions.”

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Astra Duke, customer experience director, EMEA, at LogicMonitor, said partners are adopting technologies not normally in their stack.


LogicMonitor’s Astra Duke

“One was around supporting videoconferencing, where it was never at the forefront for some of our MSPs to deliver as a service. We saw a huge increase for Zoom monitoring capabilities as people were deployed to their homes to work. MSPs could also monitor that videoconferencing solution, making sure they could apply their SLAs accurately to these new technologies. This is of real importance, especially during times like this.”

‘Not the End of the World’

“Great companies are built in tough times,” said Watts. “The message we’re trying to give is, it’s …

… not the end of the world. But it is new and it’s challenging, that we’re dealing with it.”

Nancy Hammervik, EVP, industry relations at CompTIA, agreed.


CompTIA’s Nancy Hammervik

“Going through things you never thought you would go through will take you places you never thought you would get to,” she said.

All the participants agreed that there have been [some] silver linings to COVID-19. These include new approaches to working they would like to stay post-pandemic.

For Watts, it’s flexible working.

“I think a lot of companies are run by older people who have a low level of trust, or it doesn’t suit their management philosophy. Those people are dinosaurs. We need to embrace it. I’m a great believer in the office, and collaboration and building teams. But flexible working is good from a mental health perspective; [employees] can prioritise some of their personal stuff, more family time. It’s also better for the environment, and ultimately those people have more money in their pocket  — and that’s a good thing.”

Watts admitted the payoff for more flexible working is that some businesses will suffer.

“That’s tough, but the world keeps moving on,” said Watts. “We’re all doing jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago probably, so it’ll be the same there too.”

Whittles cited the work-life balance.

“We took the opportunity to walk at lunchtime, which we never would have done in the office. We bought electric bikes and we were cycling around, and we really re-evaluated how much time we were spending on the business. I think that’s something we should all take forward, because people are very frazzled, and at the end of their tether. So a work-life balance [should be] here to stay.”

Similarly, Duke noted that people are now respecting others’ time more now.

“I’ve noticed people seem to be more understanding of when people are busy and valuing people’s time more. Meetings are more efficient; if you have to cut early or have to leave on time, people are more understanding about it. They understand you have more commitments to deal with; everybody’s time is stretched during this time. But the flexibility of working from home allows for outside influences to become more inside influences now. I really think that’s a huge benefit and I hope that it remains once all of this is over.”

About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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