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13 Winning Moves For Channel Partner Playbooks in 2019

Many channel partners ask me one simple question. What should I do to grow my business? I have spoken to hundreds of the most successful MSPs, VARs and ITSPs on the planet and I do have a presentation on the Top 10 Secrets Of The Most Successful Channel Partners. I think you can still view my presentation that I did at a previous Sherweb Partner Conference. Apparently, it was their most downloaded piece of content and it’s FREE!

There are at least 30 significant moving parts to being a successful channel partner and some are still evolving. Digest the following with a pinch of salt and then leverage anything, everything or nothing, as you see fit…

First, every channel partner should know that there is only one number that you should always keep in your mind when you want to measure your success…

How many times are your monthly recurring gross profits to your current total monthly expenses?

If your answer is at 1X or less, then you already know you are in trouble.

If your answer is between 1X and 2X, then you are STILL in high-risk.

If you are between 3 X and 4 X, then you can breath easy!

If you are 5X or over, then you are a rock star!

If you do not know this number, then consider another line of business.

That is my #1 measurement tool to figure out the business health of any channel partner.

Here goes 13 moves that you should consider in energizing your playbook for 2019…

1. The great Digital Divide widens. The next waves of DX will not stop coming. In 2019, more companies will struggle to compete with their competition whom have already developed a solid digital strategy. IDC says about one-third of companies don’t even have a digital strategy. You want your customers to be leading in the DX game as that will keep them alive and paying you! Most channel partners already know what DX looks like for their customers so double down and keep on building this out! If you are not up to speed, do some research as there are mountains of data and white-papers on this topic. This online overview is one of the most comprehensive that I have seen.

2. Developers (ISVs) will rule the future. Half of the code developed will come from external sources. Part-time developers are growing fast from 25% to 35%. Talent is scarce and you need to go wherever you can find the skill. We do a lot of development and I am amazed just where these coders are located. It’s a global pool and you need to swim in it! New simplified coding platforms will fuel the growth so it’s speeding up! New apps will proliferate as they become easier to develop and deploy. In 2017, the average organization developed 5 new apps and customized 9. It now takes about 91 days to develop, test and release a new app using PaaS. According to IDC, over the next 5 years, 500 million apps will be created worldwide which equals the total number built over the past 40 years. App will be driving business innovation in ways and levels that simply cannot be predicted by anyone. Just get into the game! Either partner with ISVs, developers or create some Line Of Business IP. You need to at least have a horse in the race to have a chance to win! I am talking with many smart people every day who are developing some amazing solutions!

3. AI Adoption will obviously accelerate in back-office automation, customer interactions and other obvious ways for quicker ROI. You should be scared of deep-learning AI, but there is nothing you can really do about this as the big guns are already baking this pie! For this conversation, we are not talking about deep-learning AI. These are still early days but acceleration is increasing faster than all predictions so all bets are off as to what and how fast AI will be influencing all areas of business. As dots are being connected, more opportunities are being discovered. Low tech AI (simple algorithms) for rules-based chat bots will be common. One interesting use of AI that we are monitoring is its role in the accounting processes. This could be a game changer in the way accounting is done. Creating data instead of leveraging actual user-generated data will be more common in developing most of these commodity-type AI applications. Less on thinking and more on executing processes efficiently. For example, Web site chatting or tracking a transaction or handling a customer inquiry. AI in marketing and lead-nurturing is going to be a winner. We are already seeing this play out. Now is a great time to get into AI. Last year, we had Shane Gibson keynote at all 3 of our ChannelNEXT events as he demonstrated exactly how AI is already infiltrating the sales process. Listen to what your peers had to say so you know why you should not miss ChannelNEXT19!

4. Cloud services (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) continue to blow up. By 2020, the top 4 Cloud platforms are projected be the destination for 80% of workloads. However, many users will be pushing back with alternatives to avoid lock-in and price-gouging. Multiple cloud playbooks will become normal. Depending on whom you talk to, the scenarios change. A mix between private and public cloud seems to be the thinking of the day. Our organization has been building e-commerce solutions on the cloud for 15 years so we do know the pros and cons. That said, spinning up servers, management and load balancing has become super easy so the choices today are huge. Several companies have already developed sophisticated software that convert servers and related storage devices into secured Cloud devices. I am currently investigating one storage technology that can set up a secure mobile Cloud network in the field, in real-time! Time for you to carve out a bigger piece of the Cloud!

5. 5G will drive a lot of new infrastructure spend and hype over the coming two years (short-term). If you are not currently in that sector, then it will most likely not affect you for a few years. 5G promises faster connectivity for a gazillion more devices running concurrently. This all sounds amazing for self-driving cars and zillions of IoT devices on everything. However, one thing that we are NOT hearing enough about is the effect of 5G on human health. Seems like the health risks of 5G to humans can be significant so this may overshadow all of its benefits if people get sick! Unlike cell-phones, you may not be able to easily avoid these body wave zappers! IoT and Edge Computing are the obvious winners for 5G so there is some big forces pushing to stifle and spin the health issues. Remember the downplay of the health risks from cell phones? Imagine a smart city maxed out with 5G microwaves flowing everywhere 24/7?

6. Security is definitely the #1 issue for business. Billions are being spent, yet breaches are still happening. Privacy is also part and parcel of the security game as laws are finally hammering down. Do not be surprised if your privacy will cost you in the future if you want to keep it (or at least have a feeling that you are keeping your privacy). Full-on Managed Security Services seems to be the direction to mediate the hacking, but nothing is certain. Basics are still not being done like employee training and software patching. IT Security will be back-to-basics for ALL channel partners. If you do not get this right, then both you and your customers will eventually pay a very high price. All channel partners must be an IT Security company FIRST. What’s the use in building a house with an open door and no windows! If you are not up to speed on IT Security (and the data is already showing that most are not), then seek a third-party expert who gets it! With the growing shortage of IT security experts, building this out has just got a lot harder! The good news is that many vendors already understand this and they are eager to jump in to help you get up to speed! We are currently tracking over 100 companies trying to solve this problem! If you only do one thing right this year, then offer a proper best-practice security service! Check out many providers in The Daily Breach news column on this site.

7. Privacy is starting to challenge convenience. People are starting to understand that free is not free and that privacy is not just a nice to have. Confidence is dropping by consumers on social media as well on Government and banking. Keep an eye on medical, heath and Geo-tracking data are being siphoned by various insurance companies to make discussions about what they will charge you! Although I talked about privacy in the previous point under IT Security, this is so important to everyone that change must happen. If you outlaw privacy, then only outlaws will have privacy. Protect your privacy, by not giving it up in the first place. Protect the privacy of everyone. Remember the NCIX servers that were sold by the trustee with all of their employees and customer data still stored without any encryption? Remember the Facebook free flowing data exchange with Cambridge Analytica in the recent election scandals? Cyber attacks are not the only ways our privacy is being abused! Data is the new gold and everyone is mining!

8. The Future of Work is something that we hear a lot about. Technology is already changing the way we work and over time, this will become much deeper and wider. AI and various knowledge based tools will help us with mundane tasks. Digital assistants will help us to do more, even while we sleep. Contract-based employees and remote workers will continue to grow while many types of jobs will become obsolete. As the need for agility and speed increases, companies will leverage communities of workers on-demand. The culture of workers will also be affected as well as where or how we work. As intelligent devices increase in doing various tasks, workers will be leveraging these technologies to do their jobs. It feels like the future worker will be like a bionic person…half man and half machine :o).

9. Block Chain will also be a big component in most technology. It would be wise to digest what Block Chain is and how it plays a role. This may be the most important technology of this century – maybe bigger than AI. It does take effort to understand and digest this piece of tech, but we are seeing massive investments flowing into the space. So where there is money, something big is happening. If you can navigate your way into this space, then it should be a big payoff down the road.

10. You are not special until the market tells you so. Take a look around. Thousands of companies look and sound like you. What will make you really different in 2019? If your leadership is just not up to speed, then making it over this first hurdle is going to take a miracle. If you do not believe in miracles, then beef-up your leadership skills. The best way to fast track your leadership skills is to join a like-minded peer group to pool knowledge and resources. Invest in yourself by making a life-changing decision for you! Check out our peer-group. Talk to a business consultant for free and understand why it matters! Or, build your own peer-group! Seek professional help!

11. Do you have the right solutions to help your customers increase productivity, create value and accelerate success? If you cannot answer these 3 questions with absolute certainty, then both your customers and you are at risk. Get back to the drawing board and figure out with your customers: Where they are today; Where they want to be; And how to get them there from here. As a technology business advisor, this is your primary job. Focus on customers that you can hit this out of the park, then rinse and repeat. You cannot pretend your way out of this.

12. Put everything on the table. Work backwards from the end goal to the solution to the products. Change your solution portfolio to meet the needs of your customers, regardless of where that may take you! Your favorite vendors are those who help you solve your customers problems and make you money. Look to partner with Independent Software Vendors. Chances are they already have a core part of a solution for your customers. Build your services and IP around their platform. Please remember to vote for your favorite vendor and distributor for the annual Reseller Choice Awards!

13. While you work on WHAT you sell, remember to fix your own internal problems too. If you are plagued with too many internal issues, how will you help your customers? You simply need to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others! The VERY first step is to figure out what are your internal problems. Take the best practice assessment or hire a good business consultant to give you an honest diagnostic! It’s not what you would like to hear, but it is what you need to know! Identify, prioritize and fix ONE problem at a time! Your business needs to run on best business practices. Start NOW!

Magic happens when you connect face to face with like minded people to exchange ideas and learn. Get ready to meet at the 13th Reseller Choice Awards and 50 Best Managed IT Companies Awards Gala on Feb 7th, 2019! Come social network with your peers, make friends, pick brains and get more of the inside scoop! One evening can change your life!

For vendors, come early on February 7 to also attend the 7th Annual Channel Manager Summit to get your full dose live on how you should build a better channel playbook in 2019! If you want to know the dark side of channel management, check out my recent interview with Marcus Cauchi. He wrote a book on the topic! Keep an eye on how we are helping Channel Managers become champions.

All the best in building your playbook for 2019!

Julian Lee