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Forrester's Jay McBain delivered a keynote that featured an emphasis on automation and remote topology.

Edward Gately

April 21, 2021

6 Min Read
Professional services key on keyboard
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This week’s D&H ThreadCast highlighted increasing partner opportunities in professional services, as well as remote work and the future of work.

Jay McBain, principal analyst of channel partnerships and alliances at Forrester, spoke about the biggest spending areas for partners to take advantage of in the months ahead.

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Forrester’s Jay McBain

The No. 1 spending opportunity in the channel is automation, followed by remote topology, he said. In third is the future of work.

UiPath is going public in the next week or so, and they’re going to be worth $50 billion-$100 billion when they do … and they’re growing by triple digits,” McBain said. “And that’s a robotic process automation (RPA) company. We’re seeing no-code, low-code platforms, SaaS platforms explode in the area of automation.”

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, everybody was sent home with a laptop and Zoom account, McBain said. That won’t be enough for the months ahead.

“Now they’re asking questions about security and risk, and compliance and continuity, governance and all the managed services that come around that,” he said. “This new remote topology is a massive opportunity for the channel.”

Rethinking Business Models

Every company in every industry has had to rethink its business model, McBain said. And they’re rethinking it in the different sense of customer and employee experience.

“They’re thinking about e-commerce and marketplaces,” he said. “There’s a big opportunity in terms of serving that buyer serving those companies at a business level, more than just the technology level. So a bunch of converging trends are happening. Most of these were happening before the pandemic. But almost all of them were put on steroids because of the pandemic. So it’s interesting to start watching the changing buyer.”

We’ve gone from draining the entire supply chain of laptops last year, to increasing demand in other areas, McBain said.

“Where we’re making money now is, “How do I secure this remote technology?” McBain said.

Other questions include how to drive productivity and efficiency, how to be compliant, and how to build a continuity plan that’s more residential than it’s ever been, he said.

“And how do we look at governance?” McBain asked. “So these are the areas where managed services and IT providers can really build a suite of services that are recurring forever for upwards of 20%-30% of white-collar workers that may never go back to a cubicle. We’re seeing business model changes at a massive level. Seventy six percent of CEOs think their current business model will be unrecognizable in five years. We could talk about any company in any industry. Everyone is being disrupted.”

D&H ThreadCast Focuses on Professional Services

Also during the D&H ThreadCast, the distributor highlighted its professional services and the growing opportunity for channel partners.

Jason Bystrak, vice president of D&H’s cloud and services business unit, said professional services is a high-growth market that’s growing at five to six times the rate of overall IT. It’s also a very profitable, high-margin market.

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D&H’s Jason Bystrak

“That applies for both D&H and for you as our partners,” he said. “Secondly, we know this market. We’ve done our research with the market data. We’ve talked to tons of our partners and tons of our vendors. And we know exactly what they need to be successful. We believe that we can help them do that.”

Tiffany Ward is D&H’s director of professional services. She was hired to build D&H’s professional services practice.

“D&H historically had some services in place, but it really did not offer a total solution across the board,” she said. “We’ve built out a full practice with end-to-end solutions to be able to augment our customers’ capacity and abilities, and also to bring new profit revenue streams.”

The practice offers …

… integration services, customized project services and everything-as-service (XaaS), Ward said.

“We’ve also gotten into this because we believe we can address the complexities that are out there,” Bystrak said. “One company really would have a difficult time handling everything, you as our partner being able to deliver on everything. And that responsibility is increasing as security becomes front and center. So we’ve put together programs that make it very easy for you to address all of those security concerns, and to be able to do that successfully and profitably with your customers.”

Filling Gaps

D&H can also fill partners’ gaps in skills, scale and geography, Bystrak said.

“We have the ability to cover across North America with our services capabilities,” he said. “That’s an area where we don’t want partners to say no to an opportunity because it might be in a different city than they’re used to working. So we can step in and fill that for you.”

The market for XaaS is starting to materialize, Bystrak said. End customers increasingly want to consume technology in the services model. That means they’re going to bundle hardware, software and services into a subscription that’s often monthly.

“And D&H has the right programs and the right financing models in place to be able to sort that business,” he said.

D&H ThreadCast Highlights Distributor’s Long History

Also during D&H ThreadCast, Dan Schwab, D&H‘s co-president, said his company has survived a lot during its 100-plus years in business.

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D&H’s Dan Schwab

“It’s clear that we’ve proven resilience through decades of mergers and consolidations, as well as over a century of surviving and overcoming wars, recessions and pandemics.” he said.

D&H has accelerated its business over the last decade, Schwab said.

“And we’re currently experiencing growth on most product categories over four times that of other distributors,” he said. “That has put us on a sales trajectory to exceed $5 billion in revenue this fiscal year. This is a testament to how we prioritize service and help our SMB partners move up market. We’re working closer with larger midmarket VARs and providers who want that same dedicated level of attention and support.”

D&H has made numerous investments over the past two years and will continue to do so in its upcoming fiscal year, Schwab said

“These prime us to be a bigger part of your goals and allows us to scale with continued double-digit growth, while at the same time maintaining our focus on best-in-class service, solutions, and enhanced education and training for all of our partners,” he said.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

D&H has added more than 75 team members across sales, customer service, order processing, pre-sales support and solution engineers, as well as vendor and category technical specialists.

D&H’s solutions and services portfolio covers key opportunities in cloud, XaaS, security, collaboration, pro-AV components, esports and gaming, and endpoint devices, Schwab said. It also offers complete technologies that support work from anywhere and remote learning.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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