The challenges facing the IT Channel in 2018

This is the year of data, and everything from protection to migration will be under close scrutiny as we approach the GDPR deadline in May
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Richard Eglon - marketing director, Agilitas

By Richard Eglon, marketing director, Agilitas 

The UK’s financial and political landscape has continued to prove unpredictable and tumultuous as 2018 begins. With a variety of obstacles to overcome throughout the year, the IT Channel continues to face a barrage of internal and external pressures.

One of the looming challenges to face the IT Channel in 2018 is the introduction of GDPR in May. While some businesses are fully prepared for the change, others are still realising the impact it could have on them and how they communicate with their customers. Nearly 40 per cent of Channel leaders, surveyed in our European Channel in 2020 research, believe this will be the biggest disruptive factor for the between now and 2020.

Alongside these considerations, the Channel is having to adapt to the way customers want to consume their services by increasing customer-centric behaviours. The main focus now for VARs and managed service providers is to provide a consultative, on-demand service, working towards a solution that meets the growth aspirations of their customers. This is being facilitated through a growing preference for a more flexible, scalable OPEX-based model, which has been best demonstrated through the surge in cloud migration.

Although migration to the cloud has long been on the lips of the biggest and smallest organisations that are looking to enhance overall efficiency, the Channel still faces a number of challenges. This includes the adoption and management of hybrid cloud solutions, which can be slowed due to the relative speed and complexity of existing legacy systems.

The steps taken to ensure data security will also prove a problem. While the confidence from the IT Channel in cloud systems to safely house sensitive data has increased significantly in recent years, there is still an issue of securely transferring and housing this data. This hasn’t been helped by recent data breaches; it’s up to VARs and MSPs to reassure their customers that they can provide a secure and stable solution.

As business operations become ever more dependent on this technology, the demand for supporting skills is continuously growing. Industries are being made to reduce the gap by increasing education provision for technical skills, in both existing and new employees. Although there is confidence in the Channel that the skills gap will be reduced by 2020, the industry must take a big leap towards this in the next 12 months.

For many years, vendors have controlled how the IT Channel operates in terms of the lifecycle and consumption of technology. The difference today is that the customer is now in control, dictating what they require to drive business outcomes. As a result, the emphasis on innovating to remain relevant for customers – both today and into the future – has never been more crucial, not only for the vendors but all Channel partners. 

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