Q&A: Top tech trends for channel resellers

We sat down with Gamma’s Product Director, Alan Mackie, to quiz him on the top tech trends for channel partners to be aware of this year. Touching on everything from the cloud, AI, machine learning and the IoT, to full fibre and 5G, as well as an emerging role for channel partners in IT security…

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Tell us: how should channel resellers be talking about digital transformation to customers?

Digital transformation has been the ‘marketing darling’ in technology for the last two or three years, but on its own, it’s a message that’s looking a bit tired these days. What I’ve noticed more recently is that the big players, and to a certain extent, the analyst community, have moved their strategies beyond ‘digital transformation’ alone. Instead, they’re breaking down the components and technologies that form the key parts of a digital transformation journey and focusing on the parts they’re strongest in – and where they can deliver most value to customers. When it comes to talking to customers about digital transformation, channel resellers should be following their lead.

What’s the state of cloud adoption looking like in the UK – and elsewhere in the world?

We expect the UK will continue to lead the way when it comes to cloud adoption, though we’re also excited to see interest in all things cloud cropping up elsewhere in Europe. More and more enterprises will be making the switch from legacy, on-premise solutions to pure cloud solutions this year and, at the same time, more and more service providers will begin combining all business communications (including voice, video, conferencing, collaboration, chat, contact centres, call recording, and quality management) into a single platform.

How will AI and machine learning impact communications? And how can channel resellers prepare customers for these new technologies?

Both AI and machine learning are already having a big impact on the industry.

At Gamma, we’re in the business of making our customers’ data available to them in a format that will help them improve business operations and customer engagement. This is where it’s key for channel partners to educate customers on the need for a single platform of engagement that can capture any and all interactions across any site or channel – because an incomplete communications dataset will, in turn, yield incomplete answers from any AI/ML platforms they choose to invest in.

We’ve heard there’s a growing opportunity for channel resellers in IT security. Please, tell us more…

Embracing digital transformation isn’t without risks, as alongside all the opportunity, it also brings with it potential hackers looking to breach systems and wreak havoc. This is where the opportunity for channel resellers lies. As cloud security company, Gemalto suggests it will see the rise of a new role for the channel in ‘Cloud Migration Security Specialists’. This role will entail educating businesses on the need for security and help in protecting themselves from threats, since many mistakenly assume they’ll be automatically protected as they transition workloads to the cloud. This is exactly the kind of role that’ll ensure the channel continues to thrive.

What’s in store for connectivity? And what part will it play in the top tech trends?

As ever, the need for ubiquitous, fast, reliable and affordable connectivity sits behind the widespread adoption of most new communications technologies. There are two contenders: fixed and mobile. For fixed, the only goal is to achieve a full fibre service, but as the roll out of full fibre in the UK continues to be slow, it’s in danger of leaving the door wide open for the arrival of 5G mobile service.

That said, it’s a bit early to be popping the 5G champagne corks just yet. There’s still a way to go, particularly in terms of device compatibility, consumption models and tariffs. We can expect incremental changes when it comes to connectivity, but nevertheless these are truly exciting times for channel resellers, as the real, big, game-changing step changes needed to drive markets at an exponential rate are drawing ever closer.

Any final thoughts?

Today’s communications businesses are highly dynamic, fast moving and technology based – they have to be. But identifying trends isn’t necessarily restricted to analysing what technological change is around the corner. It’s more iterative than that. And many of the technologies we’ve just talked about still have a long way to go (think of it as still being in the early, black-and-white days in some cases). Which is why, channel partners should be thinking about the incremental changes that lie ahead and how they can guide customers through them, while lining them up to be prepared for bigger step changes in the future.

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1 March 2019 | Justin Coombes

The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.