Here’s What 20 Channel Chiefs See As The Biggest Challenges Facing Partners In 2023
Channel executives on the CRN 2023 Channel Chiefs list were asked what they see as the biggest challenges channel partners face in 2023. Here’s what 20 channel chiefs had to say.
The Challenges Ahead
Solution providers entered 2023 facing numerous flashing warning signs. Topping the list is the current high level of economic uncertainty, high inflation, rising interest rates, and the possibility of a recession.
Supply chain disruptions, while starting to ease according to some reports, remain a problem. The shift to hybrid work practices that began with the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep solution providers guessing about their customers’ evolving IT needs. And long-running challenges like finding – and keeping – employees with in-demand IT skills haven’t diminished.
As part of the CRN Channel Chiefs 2023 project, we asked the nearly 600 channel executives that made the list to tell us what they see as the biggest challenges facing their channel partners in 2023. Here’s what 20 had to say.
North America Channel Chief
I expect 2023 will be a challenging year, given the macroeconomic environment. There will be continued growth in public cloud deployments, and partners will have to choose carefully how they will best address their customers’ requirements as it relates to AI, HPC, security, sustainability and other relevant IT trends.
VP, Channel Strategy, Development
With economic uncertainty, organizations will have a heightened focus on how they spend their IT and security budgets. It will be important for vendors and their partners to be able to demonstrate their business value throughout the lifecycle of a deal. Small and medium-sized businesses may also need/expect additional financial flexibility to help bridge the gap until business returns to a less turbulent state. Hiring and staffing needs will continue to present challenges to solution providers and the vendor partners that can deliver a full end-to-end service without solution provider staff augmentation will be critical to their long-term scale.
General Manager, Global Systems Integrators
In order to continue to differentiate themselves while providing greater value to our mutual customers, I‘m advising our partners to accelerate their investments in three areas: 1) Industry-specific SaaS offerings on AWS cloud leveraging their unique software-based IP that they built or acquired; 2) AWS-dedicated Professional- and Specialty-level certified resources to build greater expertise and capacity to deliver desired customer outcomes; 3) Sustainability initiatives for their own companies and our mutual customers, moving their operations towards carbon neutral[ity] and 100-percent renewable.
Sr. Director, North America Channels
The biggest challenge I see facing partners in 2023 is that of moving to a service-based delivery method (like Bitdefender‘s Managed Detection and Response Service, for example). I think there will be a further trend of shuffling or consolidation of cybersecurity solutions that will play out over the next 12 to 24 months. Partners will need to identify and know each of those and understand how to offer those solutions for their customers.
Global Channel Chief
Talent acquisition and retention remains a formidable challenge, Supply chain will continue to be an issue in 2023. Channel consolidation fueled by private equity. Solidifying financial structures for the real possibility of economic downturns. Finally simplifying their portfolios - fewer choices / deeper specialization
Head of Sales, Cloudflare Area 1
From the partners I talk with, driving top-of-funnel sales pipeline and new customer acquisition is a challenge. COVID had such a profound impact on how partners engage prospects and customers, and everyone seems to be working to figure out the new, most effective ways to build and maintain these relationships. This is an area where partner and vendor collaboration can help redefine best practices and create the most effective post-COVID prospect/customer engagement models.
SVP, Global Partner Marketing
In the current economic climate, partners are certain to face challenges like margin erosion, credit and financial inflexibility, M&A consolidation and channel attrition. The good news is, technology is a fundamental ingredient to both growth and optimization, in good and challenging times. And the timing couldn‘t be better for our partners. Customers need their expertise – partners provide personalized, local support. And the markets are coming their way with trends like hybrid cloud, edge computing and 5G. Partners who take advantage of the opportunity and stay close to their customers will come out stronger. Without the challenge, we cannot change.
VP, Marketing, Strategy, Critical Power and Digital Infrastructure Division
Supply chain disruptions are easing but are still generating a lot of delays in the deployment of IT projects where our products are attached. Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the industry. [And} labor shortages are pervasive and not easing. All companies are looking after the same limited talent pool, which is creating issues across the board to deliver the value that customers expect.
VP, Channel Sales, U.S.
The cybersecurity skills shortage remains a challenge for partners. When combined with an overwhelming number of disparate point solutions that do not work well with each other it reduces partners‘ ability to help customers reduce risk. Partners who develop managed services can improve productivity, accelerate time to market, promote innovation and agility, and deliver on all the promises of digital transformation while building a healthy margin.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
North America Head of Partner Sales
As the market continues to shift to subscription and consumption-based models, partners will be challenged to keep pace with shifting customer demands/buying patterns and distinguish themselves from the competition. Re-skilling is increasingly critical to rise above core infrastructure services, cater to LOB buyers and build digital transformation capabilities.
VP, Global Partner Organization
While we are seeing an immense improvement in the supply chain, and we expect to continue to see steady improvement over the next few months, companies globally will still be met with supply chain issues. From a Poly perspective, we‘ve seen our backlog drop over 20 percent. But globally, industry-wide, this remains a challenge.
VP, U.S. Channel, Partner Programs
Market uncertainty, inflation, complex landscapes of emerging tech, and the aftermath of the pandemic are major challenges our partners will face in this upcoming year.
I think we are going to see a significant rise in cyber insurance regulations and the MSPs with a Compliance-as-a-Service [offering] are going to win versus MSPs that are not providing a compliance offering today.
Alvin Da Costa
VP, Global Partner Organization
Customer spend has been tight with interest rates rising. Partners are going to have to find ways to sell to customers that are going to help them save money. Consolidation in the data center or migration to cloud are some options. If a partner can demonstrate this, then they will be able to do well in 2023.
VP, Sales, North America Partnerships
While IT continues to move in the direction of SaaS and the cloud, enterprises are navigating macroeconomic headwinds and more closely scrutinizing spend. Partners must be able to meet customers where they are on their journey from on-premises to the cloud while showcasing value. Partners need to continue their transformation into as-a-service providers, which will differentiate their solutions and services. This will enable them to build recurring revenue businesses around our cloud platform while keeping up with the complexities of data movement in a multi-cloud world.
Chief Revenue Officer
The biggest challenges for MSPs in 2023 are the recession, talent shortage, and cyber insurance.
SVP, Alliance and Channel Ecosystem
Creating differentiated revenue streams to combat the economic headwinds and potential upcoming recession. Our partners are facing pressure on profitability, a constrained talent environment, increased competition within the ecosystem, and a push from customers to deliver business outcomes with measurable ROI. They need to find ways to separate themselves from their competition and convince their customers that they can get to value faster and better than everyone else. That is why we are providing our partners with a variety of ways to leverage our partnership, whether that’s in selling, advising, implementing, building or servicing on and with our platform.
SVP, Global Partner Sales
Clearly, it‘s the economic headwinds and macroeconomic climate we all face. We are seeing this as an opportunity to take share as firms consolidate expensive or underutilized point solutions and CFOs and CIOs are looking for scalable platforms to reduce cost and streamline operations – the core value proposition of Tanium’s endpoint platform. Second is the quest for technical talent across our partner ecosystem and customers. We’re addressing that with the hundreds of engineers who are getting certified on Tanium each year and it also presents an opportunity for our partners to fill that talent gap for their customers.
VP, Security, Networking
Retaining stickiness with an existing customer base will continue to challenge our partners. While expansion into new customers is always important, partners should take a measured approach to securing and increasing their footprint with their loyal customer base.
Chief Marketing Officer
Stack selection and cutting through the noise. Major technology transformations in historically mature segments (networking, identity, and device protection) have led to very creative marketing. It is more important than ever that partners validate product capabilities and roadmap features. The same goes for the rise in MSP popularity. Many companies, hungry for a piece of the channel action, are claiming to be channel-focused and MSP-friendly, making it more critical for partners to validate what that means. Wrong vendor or technology selection can be very costly and, unfortunately, there is more noise out there than ever.