Our industry is transforming. The technology channel is undergoing a wholesale shift, led by a combination of new technology models and customers eager to use those models. But this will also be the simplest definition of that change because things only become more complicated.

Customers often don’t know how to reach where they want to be with these technologies. Vendors, banks and other keystones of the channel ecosystem don’t necessarily have the processes to support how the industry is changing. And, most critically, service providers such as channel SMEs don’t know how to adapt to the new market.

Today we tackle the last question first: How can smaller channel providers adapt to a transforming industry? How do they change to offer new types of services and support and, ultimately, become managed service providers?

It’s not a moot point. From a customer’s point of view, selling hardware is no longer enough. If you want a piece of their business, you often need to bring more skills to the table or support more elaborate service-level agreements. Customers want the value and opportunity that the newer flexible and modular technology market offers. Only channel providers that change can meet that expectation.

Yet it’s not a change you can make overnight, and it’s hard to say when that change would happen. If your traditional business is still running strong in terms of income streams, and your consumption-based business is still growing slowly, when will you reach the tipping point? Will you ever reach it? How do you encourage it without putting your bottom line at risk? Is that even possible?

These are difficult questions without apparent answers since there isn’t a specific right way to achieve this. Taking on new skills and products is risky, particularly if it’s a big pivot from what your business is used to. The wrong choice of skills or bet on a vendor can sink an SME provider.

This is in part because digital transformation is not clear cut. I think of it as a tailored jacket – you have to keep fitting and changing the jacket before it sits right. And we sometimes get lost in the details, then fail to see digital transformation for what it is. The current transformation sparked by the pandemic might be artificial. People working remotely isn’t transformation because it doesn’t change the business model. Once everyone has a laptop and a dongle, it’s back to square one. Fundamental digital transformation has to be business transformation. A channel provider that doesn’t grasp that will keep chasing surface trends.

How do you avoid being one of those businesses and instead manage your transformation towards services in a smart manner? Begin with seeing what your customers are talking about. What are their ambitions around cloud, digital consumption and managed services? Also, look at what non-customers and competitors are up to. Look for deep trends that won’t evaporate once things settle.

Then, take the second (and harder) step: Evaluate your own business. Inertia inside your organisation and clinging to present revenue streams will be your most significant barrier. It may inhibit your skills transformation – and you will need to address your skills. If you don’t have digital skills, your new business can’t digitally transform. And you certainly can’t help customers transform their businesses.

These are tough questions and difficult decisions, which is why Axiz is stepping up to help reduce some of that risk. We asked how we can help our partners – especially SME channel providers – change to meet the new market demands. Having focused on this as a strategy for several years, Axiz is now in a position where we can aggregate skills and services, and distribute those to enable our resellers to make the transition at their own tempo or the tempo of their customers. We also provide business consultancy, vendor opportunities, deal management and financial support to our enrolled small business partners.

If you want to find your channel business’s place in the new channel market, look for those deep trends among your customers, non-customers and competitors. Evaluate your company’s direction, appetite and resistance. Take stock of the skills you need. And contact Axiz – we are also transforming our business and part of that is to lend more support to our partners in a rapidly changing world. Let us help you expand into services and take advantage of the new market opportunities.