The technology channel used to be a world of sharks. Not sharks in terms of being dangerous or untrustworthy. The better image is whale sharks: giants coasting through the oceans, looking for big opportunities. Attached to them are smaller fish, coasting along on the strengths of their more prominent benefactors.

But if the larger animal was so inclined, it could shake off the smaller fish, often by accident. This scenario happens regularly in the channel: vendors and large service providers are likely to capture business, with some crumbs going to smaller outfits. Though thankful for the business, those smaller guys don’t have the clout, mass or scale to compete on their own terms.

Only, this narrative is starting to become past tense. Technology services are upending the status quo because software can specialise, scale and adapt with relative ease. What we’re witnessing in the B2B space is the rise of ecosystem-driven business partnerships. According to an Accenture survey, around 76% of executives say business models will change radically over the next few years, with ecosystems at the heart of that change.

Anecdotally, the change is evident in the market. More and more vendors are starting to rate partners not primarily by their earning potential but by the types of services and competencies they can deliver. An SME that specialises in niche areas, such as, for example, database implementation or security integration, is becoming more desirable than a larger jack-of-all-trades. It’s not that large channel providers are fading out. Instead, there is more room for new project configurations and partner combinations.

Exclusivity is out, and partnerships are in. How can SMEs in the channel take advantage of this change?

Ecosystems are about moving beyond the transactional and into dynamic or long-term value propositions. It’s what the market demands and why Axiz has worked to create more access to our diverse base of customers who serve B2B markets. Specifically, though not exclusively, we want to include SME providers more than before.

How would that enablement work? It starts with a platform – a digital foundation that connects different parts of the market’s ecosystems. We created a digital platform that is much more than a glorified way to order stock and services. Axiz’s platform facilitates partner networks, easy vendor onboarding, incubation and business development. It offers the opportunity for companies to create and combine different value offerings, ranging from hardware to services to support, including the cloud.

Using this platform, we can deliver even more. We help our customers build market credibility in new areas, exploit the network effect of engaging with other Axiz customers, pursue opportunities such as managed services, and make all that their own. We also have more skin in the game, taking on more risks, including delivery risk. The point is not to lock companies in but to ride the wave with them.

The purpose of the emerging B2B technology channel is to help end-users extract value out of their purchases. That could be hardware or software. It could be applications or services. It could be on-premises or cloud. The combination of possibilities are staggering, and these need a flexible, inclusive and collaborative channel. They require ecosystems powered by platforms that take us beyond linear business models. Axiz has built that platform and is using it to raise all B2B ships: the big players and the SMEs.