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What will the channel be like in 3 to 5 years? Do you know? Are you ready for this?

I am constantly having discussions with VARs, MSPs, Vendors, Distributors and other channel professionals about the future of the channel. What will it look like? How will the channel need to adapt? Who will still be relevant? Etc…

It is starting to become much clearer as to what a future channel partner may look like with more predictable and sustainable recurring revenues. We are also seeing more VARs and MSPs emerging with their own IP looking to partner with other VARs and MSPs. (I am calling them “mico-vendors” – I borrowed the idea from microbreweries as each of these companies make their special beer recipe, sell mostly local, but looking to expand).

From the vendor side, we are seeing a more direct to partner strategy, especially with Cloud players. The sheer growth volume of Cloud/SaaS vendors is going to rock the planet. Already over 100 BDR companies (that I know of) and counting! This seems to be just the very beginning. As the IoT wave hits, the number of players will mushroom. The difference between similar Cloud solutions may also get a lot smaller. A competitive advantage today may be short-lived as every vendor is constantly updating and improving their solution.

Some Cloud vendors still see value to work through distribution. It seems to be a good strategy at least until they build up their customer base. Traditional distributors are talking and embracing Cloud, but it is still a very small part of their overall business volume. Some new Cloud-only distributors have also popped up to exploit the trend. Data-Centres are also expanding to offer Cloud SaaS and in many ways they seem to look and feel like a distributor. The chapter on how distributors fit into the Cloud space is still being written. Seems like all parties are feeling out the market and exploring various types of partnerships to see what will ultimately benefit before gelling their final plans.

What seems to be clear is that the dynamics between channel, vendor and distributor is out of the traditional box. The types and structures of partnerships are in a constant state of being morphed. It’s actually really exciting as we have never seen such “wild-west chaos” in the channel. It is like the world order of IT is being rearranged in real-time.

I am constantly updating my presentation on the top 10 trends that seems to be fuelling and moulding the next version of the channel. I look forward to presenting version 3.0 of this presentation at the upcoming ChannelNEXT event and getting feedback from the audience. Click here to attend! on April 11-12.

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The picture above is of the beautiful Esterel Resort in Quebec, where the event will be held this year on April 11-12.

The future of the channel is at the top of my list. I am always looking for input from others as to what they are seeing in the channel. Your feedback and input is most welcome and please feel free to contact me directly.

Julian Lee