CompTIA’s 8th Annual State of the Channel Report Takes Partner Pulse
… growth, but the reality is that 98% of your business is still coming from traditional sources,” said April.
IoT hardware and software are the top two emerging technology areas – 51% and 50%, respectively – that partners are involved with, followed by virtual reality (45%). Virtual reality is a category that took a significant jump up among survey respondents — 37% last year to 45% this year.
“The virtual reality piece was a surprise for me, but we’re finding that more of the channel is realizing that there are practical business use cases for VR,” said April, pointing to VR as a way to streamline and improve communications at remote sites, as well as an increase in the use of VR for training workers in manufacturing and industrial businesses.
For all the industry talk about new channel partner types, also referred to as shadow channels, and the threat they pose to existing partner businesses, the threat can be real. For example, both this year and last year, six in 10 channel firms reported encountering SaaS companies, 49% reported bumping into digital marketing agencies, 31% report encountering accounting firms in the tech sales realm – compared to 19% in 2018 – and partners report bumping into law firms selling tech – 22% – up from 18% last year.
More partners are seeing the benefit in partnering with these nontraditional partner types. In 2019, 30% of partners said they frequently partner with these new players, compared to 20% last year, while 45% said they occasionally partner with new players, compared to 42% last year.
CompTIA says partnering can be particularly effective for small channel firms with limited and largely horizontal infrastructure practices. In fact, six in 10 small partner firms have partnered with these new players, particularly those specializing in applications in a vertical industry, or these small partner firms report this new partnering activity to expand skills and broaden their portfolio. They rated the experience as positive.
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Taking a look at the managed services section of the CompTIA State of the Channel report, authors note that although managed services is an established category in the channel it’s still growing, more so globally than in the U.S.
However, looking at the managed services model, those that offer managed services report the following: Sixty percent have a hybrid business model — for example, managed services and another practice area such as project work or traditional transactional sales, compared to 25% who report being a pure-play MSP. Another 14% operate an opportunistic model.
Top solutions/services offered by MSPs in the last year, according to the report: SaaS (60%), security (53%), storage/backup (49%), remote network monitoring and management (48%), hardware as a service management (44%), disaster recovery/business continuity (41%), help desk services (34%), and unified communications as a service (31%).
“The explosion of SaaS solutions is a natural add-on to any existing MSP or new MSP that wants to get into the business. It’s a no brainer,” said April. “Still, managed services have been around for a long time and it’s surprising to me that there’s still space to fill.”
Shy of one-half of partner firms say they do managed services in some capacity and another half aren’t doing it at all.
“You’ve got to wonder what they are staking their business on,” said April, who also noted that in terms of the adoption of managed services the needle hasn’t moved dramatically in the last 10, even five, years.