Partners ready to step outside their comfort zone

Last week, we talked about how channel firms are on the hunt for new employees. It came from findings from new CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2022.

This week, the second part of our analysis into the research focuses on 2022 and beyond. It’s that time of year when everyone wants to pitch their predictions for the channel, as I am sure you will notice on Nuzoo in the coming weeks!

The CompTIA research describes “a sense of renewed yet cautious determination entering 2022” for channel partners. “Whether it’s building back a solid foundation that had cracked a bit these past couple years or forging ahead with ambitious business decisions aimed squarely at the future, the channel seems ready to accelerate.”

The IT trade association believes many channel firms are ready to get out of their comfort zones.

Whereas this year partners have focused on picking up business from existing clients – which made sense given that finding new customers against a backdrop of a global pandemic, huge market disruption and economic uncertainty was a challenge, to say the least.

But looking ahead to next year, channel partners say reaching new clients is the number one factor to drive growth. The hunt is on for new customers to fill the pipeline.

CompTIA says that looking ahead to 2022, firms that manage to thrive will be hiring again, making investments in skills training, expanding their market reach to new customers and verticals, partnering with competitors and embracing emerging tech. ‘Is that all?’ you might wonder!

A third of also partners pointed to the ability to sell new business lines and/or products and services as key to growth. This could mean expansion into some of the emerging technology disciplines, specialising in a new vertical or doubling down on a services-based business heavy on consulting. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they are either mostly focusing on new areas such as emerging technologies or paying equal attention to both new and existing lines of business.

However, firms are also counting on a return to normal commerce patterns. A third of respondents say this is necessary, and they are most likely referring to the delivery and forecasting bottlenecks that have resulted from the last two years of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. Channel firms know that landing new customers is great, but a short-lived win if you end up disappointing them on delivery timing and logistics.

However, the primary opportunity for partners in 2022, according to CompTIA is consulting – especially among those firms whose primary business model to date has been product-centric and transactional.

It points to changes in customer habits: the rise of easy-to-use/quick-to-buy online marketplaces, the surge in line-of-business tech buyers that purchase differently than IT departments do, and the influx of new types of players in the channel that do not operate their businesses or relationships with customers or vendors in traditional ways.

Consulting can range from technology advice services to business-related mentoring and guidance. But one thing is certain, says CompTIA: “Consulting services—especially those focused on helping customers run their businesses better while making the right technology decisions to do so—are both lucrative from a profitability standpoint and in demand,” it notes.

“Think about it: If customers today are purchasing directly from one of the large marketplaces such as Amazon’s or Google’s, channel firms aren’t part of that transaction. They can be part of the process, though, and that’s where consulting acumen comes in. Consultants play the role of expert, helping guide customers through the things they do not know and have not considered, such as choosing the right fit for their business needs, understanding how to integrate that in with their current environment or how to secure it and ensure compliance.

“A business and/or technology consultant can be a vital lifeline in all these areas. In 2022, more channel firms will have a reckoning that reselling products and services in a cloud marketplace era is fading, but they have volumes of opportunity to transform or expand as business consulting experts.”

We don’t know what 2022 will bring us in the channel, but the consulting opportunity appears to be one that could potentially be very lucrative for partners. We’ll have to wait and see!

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2022 ..continued

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