September 5, 2022
By Ethan Fitzsimons
Whether you call it remote work, work-from-home, work-from-anywhere or hybrid work, the common denominator throughout today’s workforce is the demand for flexibility.
We are now in what I like to call an “elastic work” environment in which all employees want consistent access and user experience (UX), regardless of their location. This flexibility is now table stakes when it comes to attracting and retaining talent as we face a growing skills gap. Businesses across the board are working fervently to ensure that they have the infrastructure in place to enable their employees to work when, where and how they want while maintaining both reliable access and a positive user experience.
One of the primary challenges this poses from a technology perspective is security. Remote workers, or those working on personal devices, are at a higher risk for cyberattacks and other security vulnerabilities. Historically, solutions that prioritized UX and flexibility faced security limitations, while other, more secure solutions, were often deemed less user-friendly. Finding a way to ensure UX, flexibility and security without disrupting workflows or productivity is a significant challenge for many of today’s businesses.
Recent research from Citrix found that 63% of business leaders surveyed said that offering employees flexibility is becoming a key determinant in the job market. However, employers are struggling to deliver: Nearly 65% of employer respondents said employees now expect a higher degree of flexibility than they can accommodate from a business perspective. There is a clear understanding that flexibility can mitigate the risk of losing talent, opportunity and revenue.
Where Is Industry Headed?
After the initial scramble to build infrastructure to accommodate remote work, employers now are searching for permanent solutions to meet employees’ demands for UX and flexibility. As a result, I predict that we’ll see an emergence of “flexibility-as-a-service” models.
One of the most notable tenets of flexibility-as-a-service will be new levels of operational and technological flexibility. People are now accustomed to a consumption model in which you pay only for the services you need and use, as we see in a utility model. Similarly, businesses want the ability to consume only the technology and services that are needed. We will now see a movement toward hosting a service for a customer and hosting an offering, as opposed to selling a product or solution.
How Partners Can Prepare
I believe that partners will be key to helping businesses achieve their goals through this new flexibility-as-a-service model. Channel partners possess a skill set that makes them uniquely suited to aid customers in this journey. From the ability to assess and evaluate a businesses’ unique needs to helping to identify and implement the best solution, successful channel partners understand that one size does not fit all, and thoughtful customization is needed.
It’s important to remember that building a strategy that meets a customer’s needs may require trial and error. A strong collaboration between partner and customer is essential.
This has had a notable impact on channel partners on multiple levels.
From a customer perspective, it has led to an increase in demand within the channel ecosystem since the pandemic began to aid customers in their transformation, resulting in significant growth throughout the channel.
From a business perspective, it has changed the way partners operate, requiring a movement away from their traditional business models to new “as-a-service” approaches. This has wide-ranging implications, from their own remote workforce to networking/events, billing and other considerations.
Overall, the goal is to meet customers where they are in this new reality. While there is no manual for how to navigate these unprecedented times, I believe that the fundamental skills that made channel partners successful in a traditional model are still relevant when it comes to understanding customer needs, architecting the best custom solution, facilitating implementation and, ultimately, setting customers up to achieve their business goals.
Ethan Fitzsimons is chief operating officer for Citrix Worldwide Partner Sales and Ecosystems, where he is responsible for global partner sales strategy, governance and execution and leads the Citrix Partner Customer Success and Co-Operative services programs. He previously worked at Informatica, Tech Data and Avnet Technology Solutions. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @citrix on Twitter.
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