Empowering the channel
Rapid changes in technology and its manner of use over the past two years mean it is more imperative than ever for vendors to more effectively support the channel.
While it goes without saying that vendors are always interested in empowering the channel, they have really had to be on their toes over the past two years. After all, the channel has had its work cut out for it in assisting end-users with the sudden and rapid digital evolution required to work remotely.
Vendors have certainly had to accelerate digital transformation within the channel over the last two years, says Thibault Dousson, GM at Lenovo South Africa, in order for them to more effectively support the end-users.
“The vendors’ role here has been to assist the channel with guidance around the correct technologies to deploy, advise on costs and generally play the role of trusted advisor,” he says.
“Another example of how vendors can empower the channel is through the use of digital training. Not only can they provide virtual training – Lenovo, for example, has already undertaken more than 15 000 such sessions – but the vendor can also help partners pinpoint where certain skills are lacking and where additional training may be required.”
It is also important to maintain a level of simplicity in their partner programme, keeping the barriers to entry fairly low, to enable greater access. The same goes for access to certifications and information – this should be made as easy as possible, so it is just as easy for the channel to then sell the vendor’s products.
“Furthermore, it falls on the vendor to clearly understand the pain points of both the channel and the end customer, as this will enable them to deliver the best possible service, a variety of relevant competencies and, ultimately, to support their partners in their conversations with end customers. And of course, it should be noted that in the current economy, it is also imperative to empower the channel via competitive pricing of products,” he says.
Since the end goal for both parties is end-user satisfaction, suggests Dousson, vendors should additionally seek to empower the channel through technical enablement, pre- and post-sales support, and adherence to service level agreements.
According to Jim Holland, Regional Director: Africa at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group, another way for vendors to empower the channel is by ensuring enough stock presence on hand in order to deliver stock as soon as possible.
“So, for example, if the channel services the SADC region, it is incumbent on the vendor to ensure that there is enough stock in country so that there is no delay in waiting for stock to be shipped to South Africa for distribution,” he says.
“It also falls on the vendor to assist the channel in accessing credit and to help it with its financing requirements. A good vendor can provide credit and finance to its partners to enable them to deliver the technologies, solutions and services the end customers demand.”
Holland adds that another vendor role is to understand current trends and to leverage these for success, throughout the chain.
“If, for example, there is a shift in the way some customers procure solutions, such as switching to desktop as a service, it is our job as vendors to understand what sort of added value we can offer across the product life cycle, and how this can be priced effectively. While no vendor has a crystal ball, we are all in a position to draw learnings from elsewhere in the world in order to develop a successful strategy for SA.”
In conclusion, Dousson notes that in a rapidly evolving future, the channel needs vendors that are successful, have forward-thinking strategies, stability and a strong set of solutions and products.
“Such a vendor will be fuelled by innovation, will be constantly seeking new solutions and technologies to improve the channel and should be able to play the role of trusted advisor. This, ultimately, will enable the channel to leverage all of the above to improve not only their, but also their end customers’, businesses.”