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Businesses operate quarter to quarter. They measure their progress toward goals and the success of their plans by quarterly performance.
Businesses plan annually. They set strategic objectives on a year-to-year basis and measure the success and growth of their business on year-over-year top- and bottom-line revenue.
Strategic thinking is often limited to 18 months--two years on the outside. Oftentimes, businesses are trapped in a short-term view of the world; they don't look far over the horizon to see what's coming next.
Five years ago, aside from a few visionaries, who could have predicted eroding hardware margins, conflicting software-delivery models and the ubiquity of services in the channel? Who could have predicted the emergence of vertical and technology specialization? Who could have foreseen the conflict between vendors and solution providers in delivering subscription software and managed services? And who would have thought that channel hybrids--distributors taking on solution providers, solution providers starting channel programs and direct marketers/retailers driving up the channels stack? [Click here for a five-year retrospective look at channel demographics.]
Channel 2.0--a yearlong initiative launched by VARBusiness this month--aims to define the channel of the future. A working group of vendors, solution providers, distributors, end users and market analysts will spend the next year divining the form, function and operating environment of the channel in 2013. How will vendors structure their channel programs? How will solution providers structure their businesses? What role will distributors serve? Who will control the relationships with end users? And what will support--presales, postsales, technical and marketing--mean to solution providers and vendors?
Channel 2.0 will answer these and many more questions over the course of its deliberation. VARBusiness will publish progress reports on the group's work and, this time next year, will produce the Channel 2.0 blueprint: a guide to the channel of the future, which will serve as a road map for success for all who touch the channel. To start this project,VARBusiness reached out to channel leaders with two simple questions: What would you want to know about the channel in 2013 and what do you think the channel will look like in five years?
NEXT: Brand and customer ownership
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