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TBI Gains Insights, Validation from Channel Survey ResultsTBI Gains Insights, Validation from Channel Survey Results

The master agent teamed with AT&T to commission a report on the state of the channel.

Buffy Naylor

October 19, 2018

5 Min Read
Survey says

A blind channelwide survey commissioned by TBI in conjunction with AT&T not only provided an overall profile of the state of the channel, but also gave the master agent valuable insights as to what its own partners will be looking to them for in the year ahead.

Data from more than 100 respondents, plus qualitative and quantitative interviews, showed that the prevalence of SD-WAN, security and overall digital transformation initiatives undertaken by businesses is driving demand in the direct channel.

According to the report, one in three respondents offer SDN solutions and SD-WAN along with solutions related to IoT. More than half of respondents are helping customers with their digital transformation plans and nearly a quarter have imminent plans to do so. Slightly less than half of respondents said the information technology and finance spaces demonstrate the greatest demand for their services where the need for security and encrypted data, as well as highly personalized customer experiences necessitates digital transformation.

As for leading opportunities for the channel, security leads the pack with more than 50 percent of respondents citing security as having the greatest potential for industry influence, transformative power and revenue generation.

TBI's Corey Cohen

TBI’s Corey Cohen

“I was pleasantly surprised that over 50 percent of respondents currently offer some form of security or that they have brought it into their portfolio,” said Corey Cohen, director of marketing for TBI. “The learning curve is high [on security], considering that it is a skill pivot for many traditional telecommunication partners. We have heard that they want to have more technical resources available to be brought into conversations before they go off on their own.”

While the number of respondents currently offering some sort of security was higher than Cohen  expected, she said she wasn’t surprised to learn how many are planning to augment their security offering in 2019.  Neither was Dave Landsberger, TBI’s director of training and events.

TBI's Dave Landsberger

TBI’s Dave Landsberger

“There’s a changing definition of what security is in the channel,” he said. “Firewalls are security, but they’re kind of table stakes at this point. That’s supported by the fact that respondents said they are looking at penetration testing and other types of services.”

What did surprise Landsberger, though, was the number of partners “planning on making mobility a bigger part of their offering over the next 18 months. I actually thought the numbers would be higher.”

“That’s definitely an area where partners need to put way more attention, ” he said. “The competition in that space is increasing so much, maybe that’s scaring partners away. Maybe they just feel like it’s an entirely new practice and they don’t want to go for it quite yet — which has been the resistance to security in the past. ‘Oh…

…that’s an entirely different discipline, I’m not ready for that.’  I think partners are looking at mobility the same way, but they’re not attacking it with the same amount of intensity, which I think is something to be cautious about. I really think all partners should be looking at mobility, because they’re going to start losing customers if they don’t.”

As for what TBI has planned for partners next year, “The report just validated the trajectory we have planned,” said Cohen. “It was indicated in the report that the technologies with the greatest potential for industry revenue and for their own revenue top three were security, Internet of Things and hybrid cloud. This year, TBI spent a lot of time talking about digital transformation and all that it could entail. I think that moving into 2019, we will continue placing an equal or greater emphasis on security, but we will also be giving more scenarios relating to what channel partners can do with the multicloud environments their customers are in.”

“From a training standpoint, this year we were hyperfocused on security when it came to our training events and all the content that we put up on line,” said Landsberger. “This report reinforced that we made the right decision to focus on security this year

“Even before I even got the report, I was thinking that in 2019 we’re going to do a lot of education around mobility and IRT. And I don’t think I’m going to change direction on that because of the report. I still think there’s a lot of education that needs to go around. And TBI is so uniquely positioned for that marketplace because we have residual contracts with all four major wireless carriers. So that’s going to be a big part of our go-to-market next year and our education cycle for partners.”

The report also showed that one of the key tactics respondents plan to use to achieve growth next year is by relying more heavily on partnerships with organizations like TBI. “So from a marketing standpoint that means creating more sales enablement and more opportunities for them to grow revenue with their current and historic customers and for them to identify new ones,” said Cohen.

“I think it’s important for the channel community to know that we are trying to develop programs in 2019 that speak directly to the issues that have been brought up in the report,” she said.

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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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