Top Channel Partner New Year's Resolutions

By Howard M. Cohen  |  Print this article Print
IT channel outlook 2016

Should 'old acquaintance be forgot,' or should those partnerships continue and grow? These New Year's resolutions will help brighten the 2016 IT channel outlook.

Me? I'm All About You.

If there's one mistake most channel companies make, it's forgetting who and what they're all about. It should be customers.

We tend to describe things in our own jargon-heavy, acronym-riddled language. Most of our customers probably don't know what we're talking about half the time, but they're not going to let on to us that they don't. 

We also emphasize "infrastructure," "managed services," "bandwidth" and many other terms that customers can't really identify with, much less care about. They care more about getting invoices out faster and more accurately, getting people working together more efficiently, increasing revenue and decreasing costs.

Also, many channel partners focus on what they are and what they sell, rather than on what their customers buy. Who cares how many years you've been in business, what awards you've won or even what services you provide if you can't solve my problems? Customers care about what you can do for them.

Make this the year you reach out and ask your customers what they need most from you and like best about you, and why they'd recommend you to their friends and colleagues. They know better than anyone.

What is my IP?

If you're still selling, installing and maintaining servers and storage for a living, resolve to find something else to do for a living starting this coming year.

On one side of you are "partners" like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Rackspace and Amazon all convincing your customers that they should be using their servers and storage instead of buying servers and storage from you. They all want to provide your customers' infrastructure.

On the other side of you are HP, IBM and others extolling the wonders of "hyper-convergence." They have configurations already configured, purpose-built, pre-integrated and ready to sell to run the most popular workloads and applications. Who needs an integrator?

The infrastructure integration business is slowly being pulled away, and there's likely very little you're going to be able to do to slow it, so go with the flow. 

Adapt, innovate and prevail.

Start creating your own intellectual property to sell to customers. Innovate new services and new offerings to keep ahead of the competition. As much as you may be very proud of what you've accomplished in building your channel business, remember that the only constant is change, and the channel is constantly changing around you. Adapt, innovate and prevail. This will help brighten the 2016 IT channel outlook.

Best wishes for an incredibly successful and happy year.

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.