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Because this is the way we’ve always done it…

Times truly are changing, and companies that aren’t paying attention will likely be left behind.

December 21, 2018

3 Min Read
Because this is the way we’ve always done it…

In business, we’re frequently challenged to come up with innovative ideas to support growth and increase efficiency. It’s all too easy to find something that already works and become complacent simply because this is the way we’ve “always done it.” But, in most cases, that’s not going to propel your business forward.

The fact is that, as that prescient philosopher Bob Dylan once reminded us, “The times, they are a-changin’.” Businesses are changing. Leadership is changing. And if you aren’t paying attention, you’re likely to get left behind, now more so than ever.

Take, for example, the aging channel community. Forty percent of channel owners plan to retire by 2024, and 75 percent of the channel will be millennials in just six years! This is the first generation that grew up in the digital era, with many applauding early adoptions of the latest value-added solutions.

However, this is a double-edged sword. New business buyers are increasingly conducting their own research, with 80 percent reporting that the salespeople they encounter lack adequate specialization due to growing complexities.

Furthermore, 65 percent of technology-related decisions are now being made by business leaders, and 29 percent do not even involve IT in that process, according to research conducted by Forrester.

Today’s channel professionals are seeing a rise in diverse and highly decentralized “shadow channels.” These non-traditional channels are earning their way into the room with lines-of-business experts who understand cloud-driven best practices, or industry-based professional service firms transitioning to software and IT service companies.

This type of channel may also include independent software vendors (ISVs) and born-in-the-cloud firms. Of course, a startup community can always be relied on to disrupt traditional markets and provide a competitive advantage to those business leaders looking for an edge.

If you are struggling to compete with all these industry changes, don’t panic! Don’t be intimidated. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Consider this an opportunity to reinvent your business practices to remain relevant in today’s changing landscape. Look to build parallel tactics that serve both traditional and emerging channels. Believe me, you won’t regret it on the long run.

Here are some high-level tips to get you started:

  • Strategy: Consider your routes to market, sales practices, pipeline and distribution.

  • Enablement: Consider your team’s training, implementation and certifications.

  • Incentives: Consider visibility, recognition and promotions for your customers.

  • Sales & marketing: Consider your competitive intelligence, best practices and sponsorship.

  • Management: Consider terms, contracts and benchmarking with customers.

It’s clear that continuing to do exactly what you’ve been doing is not enough to succeed in this transformative industry. It’s the channel professionals with the willingness to adapt their business processes to match the evolving customer community who will benefit from more successful engagement.

Are you interested in learning about how SAP and their partners service the customer community? Visit https://www.sap.com/partner.html for more information on the SAP PartnerEdge program.

Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter – @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html.

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This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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