Yes, it’s 2020 and we’re still talking about digital transformation but this time we’re looking at how these two words affect channel partners.

The fact of the matter is that the face of technology has been changed by the advent of cloud solutions, artificial intelligence and everything-as-a-service. The channel then faces a fundamental shift in the demands from the market.

“Today, the biggest challenges impacting on the channel are the loss of skills, the move of revenue towards cloud investment, changing vendor strategies, and competition from companies such as AWS or online purchasing,” says managing executive at Axiz South Africa, Rory Twort.

The exec describes digital transformation as a double-edged sword in that it improves business efficiencies but lessens the need for services traditionally provided by channel partners.

However, Twort goes on to point out that the channel should be evolving to meet new needs and broaden its business reach. That, however, requires some investment on the part of the channel.

Technologies such as AI, the internet of things and automation are fast losing their “emerging” tag and there is a demand for skills in these areas.

Managing executive at Axiz South Africa, Rory Twort.

The channel has the opportunity to offer these skills as a service via rollouts or even ongoing support. Should the channel embrace this, Twort says that it could benefit from a solid revenue stream as demand increases.

“Digital transformation and emergent technology application and innovation isn’t going to stop and slow down because the channel isn’t ready to take part,” says the exec.

“The channel can’t control it, for good or ill, so it needs to pay attention or risk being made redundant.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that traditional services won’t be needed, but rather that revenue from these services will decline as the demand for more advanced solutions increases.

Vendors appear to be embracing this shifting mindset with solutions that allow the channel to leverage new services more easily.

Just a few weeks ago Sophos announced improvements to its MSP Connect program aimed at help the channel cater to the changing demands of businesses.

It’s up to players in the sector then to leverage advancements to their benefit lest they get left behind.