ESG Blog: Talking Channel (ESG 360 Video Series)
In this discussion, part of ESG's 360 Video Series, Kevin Rhone considers some of the key changes for channel partners in recent years.

Aug 06, 2018
Mark Peters   ESG Blog: Talking Channel (ESG 360 Video Series)
Author: Mark Peters


Peters_Rhone_360"The channel" remains a crucial connection between the vendor and user communities, but like everything else in IT, it has evolved. In this discussion, part of ESG's 360 Video Series, Kevin Rhone considers some of the key changes for channel partners in recent years. These organizations have a tremendous influence over much of what is sold to, and used by, IT organizations. With a direct, vendor-owned sales force being such an expensive option, it is typically reserved for only the largest customers and/or the big-ticket items. Everything else normally flows through the channel ecosystem, which has gradually shifted from being essentially a product fulfillment operation to provide far more of an advisory status. Kevin delves into why this change is underway, and addresses whom it is good for.     

IT has probably never been more complex and demanding than today: even as approaches such as convergence, myriad clouds, containers, and software-definition (etc.) seek to make operations simpler, so to a degree such elements can also obfuscate some of the underlying subtleties and opportunities of the foundational components. After all, while it’s great to focus on purchasing - for instance - application service levels or business outcomes, some understanding of the IT elements (and considerations or choices) that contribute to those is also often useful. That is the purpose of this video discussion series: it offers ESG’s subject matter experts discussing some of the key trends, drivers, and considerations across various IT areas. We aim to do it succinctly and to deliver it in engaging, plain English - while also tying each technology area back to its eventual potential to positively impact both IT and business results. 

We hope you find this video discussion useful. We will expand - and update - the series regularly.

Please feel free to reach out to Kevin Rhone or me, Mark Peters, to discuss any of these topics in more depth.

Video Transcript

Announcer: The following is an ESG 360 Video.

Mark: In this series of videos, I've been talking to my colleagues that cover specific segment areas of the IT technology world. It's so complex that sometimes, it's hard to keep up with all the individual moving components. That's it, today, I'm joined by my colleague Kevin Rhone. Kevin, you don't have a particular technology segment, but you do have what I think is an important element of how the technology world works these days, which is called channel acceleration. So let's start by what the heck is the channel these days and what is channel acceleration?

Kevin: That's a great question. I lead what we call the challenge acceleration practice here at ESG. And what that means is that we work across all of the different technology areas, across all the segments, with all of the analysts and colleagues on the technical side. But we work more directly with the channel teams at our clients: Issues of strategy, issues of programs, issues of execution, engagement with partners, really what I like to call the business side of taking technology to the market.

Mark: How have things changed? I presume this has not stayed static. It used to be very much, you know, stuff in the channel and just buck-shifting and so on. How has it changed in your view of late?

Kevin: I think the simplest way to describe it is that it has been transformed from a product-oriented fulfillment-based…the old traditional term was pick, pack and ship. That has gone by the wayside a few years ago. And now, the channel is really oriented towards identifying, solving solutions problems with multiple vendors' technologies and delivering services around those to support them on an ongoing basis. So the role of the channel and the partners has transformed from fulfillment to delivering business outcomes and solutions.

Mark: So that's how it's changed. Why has it changed? Does it drive in the market or is it a response to what else is going on in IT? What's driving what, do you think, from the channel perspective?

Kevin: Well, in answer to your question about, you know, why has it changed is rooted in the fact that the partners themselves are not usually a leading indicator. They're an indicator of where the vendor community and then their customers want to go with using technology, the way they purchase it, the way they consume it, the way that they employ it. And good channel partners maximize their ability to make money off the way that that business is transformed.

Mark: Where is the value in this change? You've explained what's changed and some of why it's changing. Who gains from this? Is it the vendors who just have an easier, better life if their channel is working better for them? Is it the end users? Is it the channels themselves or some mix of all of the above?

Kevin: Well, the channel exists to connect vendors with the innovative technologies, and users that can utilize those technologies to improve their business, to be faster, to be more productive, to make more money. And as a result, the role of that partner is to figure out that length between the two. And that has changed. And that's the changing transformation of multiple business models, of as a service deployment, of SLAs and different service delivery components for them to allow the customers to utilize that technology as it changes.

Mark: So it can be win-win-win.

Kevin: Well, we'd like to think that. We'd like to think that. Ultimately, they connect the vendors with the users and create a winning formula for both of those, and make a little bit of money along the way.

Mark: Which is always good.

Kevin: Fair enough.

Mark: Thank you. Thank you for explaining that. Thank you for watching.

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