Here’s What 25 Channel Chiefs See As The Biggest Challenges Solution Providers Face In 2022

Channel executives on the CRN 2022 Channel Chiefs see significant hurdles ahead for their channel partners including hiring and retaining tech talent, dealing with on-going supply chain disruption, adapting to subscription and as-a-service business models, and supporting customers’ digital transformation initiatives.

The Challenge

Any hopes solution providers had for a return to “business as usual” as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes are pretty much gone.

Businesses and organizations have adopted a hybrid strategy – not just for IT but also in how they operate, manage employees, and work with customers – and solution and service providers. The trend toward as-a-service and subscription IT consumption that began before the pandemic has accelerated.

Supply chain disruptions continue. And the difficulties in finding, hiring and retaining tech talent has only become even more problematic for solution providers in the pandemic’s wake.

Here’s what 25 of the top channel executives on this year’s CRN 2022 Channel Chiefs list see as the major challenges facing their channel partners this year and their advice about how to address them.


Terry Richardson

North America Channel Chief

Partners will be increasingly challenged to recommend hybrid solutions to their customers, which will require gaining specific cloud-related expertise for those that are not already prepared. Additionally, I expect IT decision criteria to continue to shift with even more emphasis placed on achieving sustainability goals and implementing cost mitigation strategies while delivering solutions that drive growth.

Arctic Wolf

Bob Skelley

Senior VP, Global Channels

In a post-pandemic business environment, organizations will have a heightened focus on how they spend their security budget. 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 pre-pandemic 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.

Area 1 Security

Steve Pataky

Chief Revenue Officer

The macroeconomic environment and the holdover of the pandemic continue to present challenges to how our partners engage with their customers and prospects. Virtual “everything” fatigue is real and means partners and vendors need to work together to be ever more creative in communicating their joint value. Well-orchestrated, engaging joint sales and marketing campaigns are critical to drive engagement.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Donna Grothjan

VP, Worldwide Channels

A number of market forces will challenge partners in 2022. The ongoing pandemic has led to a continued demand for hybrid workplace environments and that means partners will have to provide a secure campus experience at the micro edge (such as a home office). Digital transformation will continue to drive the explosion of data created at the edge, requiring the need for more AI Ops solutions to lower administrative costs. And continued demand from customers for flexible procurement and financing models will cause partners to have to innovate in that area.


Charlie Tomeo

Chief Revenue Officer

In 2022 the biggest challenge partners face is cybersecurity and how solution providers protect businesses against growing cyberattacks. We are also continuing to help our partners adjust to economic headwinds, as well as the tail-end of the pandemic and how companies begin to shift back to a steady-state environment.


Rob Spee

Senior VP, Global Channels

-Customers wanting faster sales cycles by using cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure [and] purchased increasingly via a cloud marketplace.

-Transitioning to a subscription and everything-as-a-service model.

-Gaining attention and staying relevant in the remote worker, video-fatigued customer environment.

-Selling business value, not products or technology.


Matt Cook

VP, Global Partner Organization

Our partners will have to navigate the “new normal” in 2022 and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual is here to stay – virtual meetings, demos and marketing – for both our partners and their customers. Partners will have to identify and capture new market opportunities and drive their go-to-market model towards the subscription and service offerings their customers require in the new post-pandemic, virtual-everything economy. Within their own organizations, the fluctuating labor market makes building, retaining and training sales talent – virtually, of course – challenging. What‘s more, subscription-based compensation models will need to be figured out and implemented.


Oliver Tuszik

Senior VP, Global Partner Sales

As digital transformation accelerates, more technology decisions happen outside IT. Partners now work with buyers from HR, facilities, sales, and marketing. New buyers and traditional want flexibility in how and where they buy. As buying models grow more sophisticated, complexity increases. Together we must help them reduce complexity and derive the greatest and fastest value from their investments. Supply chain will continue to be an issue. Therefore, the transformation to more software-led offerings remains critical for all partners. We can deliver innovation to customers faster with software and deliver the flexibility they request. Where there are challenges, there are opportunities.


Mike Houghton

VP, Global Partner Organization

Customers want to move to the cloud, on their terms, and without risk. Partners will need to focus on how they can deliver SaaS-based solutions to their customers. Security is becoming a bigger part of enterprises‘ data management strategy and overall business strategy. Cybersecurity is often a boardroom discussion, with CFOs and CIOs weighing in heavily. Partners will need to establish relationships at higher levels in the organization to develop a data management strategy.


John Tavares

VP, Worldwide Channels, Alliances

Managing the even faster shift of customers choosing an OPEX or subscription model for IT delivery compared to a CAPEX investment. In addition, partners will need to ensure that the skills of their staff align to the top customer spending priorities: cloud migration and cloud data management, advanced security, data protection and application modernization.


Matthew Polly

VP, Worldwide Business Development, Channels, Alliances

The single biggest challenge facing partners in 2022 is similar to the challenge facing customers – talent. Because of the accelerating activity from adversaries, the demand for skilled people in cybersecurity remains at an all-time high. Recruiting and retaining that scarce talent is hard and getting harder. CrowdStrike is ramping our college intern programs and recruitment efforts for early in career talent to help develop the people we need and put young people on a path to a meaningful career. I would welcome the opportunity to cross-pollinate this talent pool with partners.


Abigail Maines

VP, Commercial, Channel Sales, North America

The two big challenges we see for our partners in 2022 are finding and retaining top talent and continued competition from marketplaces and larger partners being combined via M&A activity. Partners who can attract and retain key talent are able to attract and retain key customers and can then use both their employees and existing customer base to scale their business. Scale is directly related to the second headwind marketplace and continued consolidation.

Dell Technologies

Rola Dagher

Global Channel Chief

Attracting and retaining the right talent will continue to be a concern. The last year and a half caused many people to re-examine what they want out of work. They don‘t just want a job they want to work for a company that provides them meaning and a clear path for development. To continue cultivating great talent, I encourage partners to double down on commitments to advance sustainability, cultivate inclusion and transform lives. Additionally, we will continue to support team development by offering world-class competency and certification courses that stay with the employee as they continue to develop their career.


Steve Loeb

Commercial Integration Leader, VP, Channel Sales

Supply chain issues will continue to disrupt markets in 2022, requiring channel partners to collaborate to find solutions. The impact and shift in buying patterns created by the pandemic will also continue to challenge our partners. How they navigate and adapt to these issues will have a large impact on their 2022 success. Creativity, flexibility, and close working relationships will be key as partners focus on pipeline development, lead generation and forecasting areas of growth. With our personalized support and broad portfolio of leading-edge and mainstream solutions, we are uniquely positioned to help them overcome these challenges.


Bob Layton

Chief Channel Officer

The biggest challenge in 2022 for eSentire partners will be how to insert their own brand and services into client environments that are increasingly cloud-based, SaaS-subscription driven, and defined by end-user experience. The partner cannot position a manufacturer‘s brand any longer. The future is delivery of continuous value, leveraging several key partnerships like eSentire alongside their own services and experience-as-a-service vision.


Bob Lord

Senior VP, Weather Company, Alliances

We continue to help our partners drive innovation in regulated markets. For example, security and compliance are particularly important in financial services, healthcare, insurance, and telecommunications. IBM is collaborating with more than 115 partners on the IBM Cloud for Financial Services to help speed clients‘ business transformations by addressing risk in the supply chain for financial institutions. Together with partners, we are creating a secure ecosystem where banks, ISVs and SaaS providers can transact with confidence.


Pascal Bourget

Worldwide Channel Chief

To fully understand the challenges facing customers. As we exit the pandemic there will be new workplace scenarios that CEOs will look to IT to help resolve as they strive to maximize workforce productivity and satisfaction. Customers are also demanding infrastructure agility and flexibility and they continue to embrace cloud solutions. There are ESG efforts where IT can help. All of these challenges mean that the channel will need to engage in different ways. Lenovo is here to help. We have the solutions, people, and expertise to support the global channel in creating great business outcomes for these customer challenges.


Rodney Clark

Corporate VP, Global Channel Sales, Channel Chief

I think of this as both a challenge and an opportunity. Microsoft Cloud is at the center of our technology innovation and key to enabling transformation, for our partners and customers. There are four key opportunities for partners and partner solutions. The first is cloud migration. The second is security, compliance and identity. Business applications is another area of value - growing emphasis on hybrid work and improving the employee experience. Lastly, industry solutions (leveraging our industry cloud approach): Partners are well-positioned to leverage our platforms and tools to develop rich, industry-specific solutions to meet customer needs.


Christian Alvarez

Senior VP, Worldwide Channel Sales

The biggest challenge will be adapting and evolving as the market shifts to subscription and consumption-based models. Partners will see more vendors taking renewals ‘direct,’ which creates new challenges for partners to sustain profitability. Vendors who want to stay in a leadership position in the channel will be providing partners with organic customer demand and a clear path to building recurring profit over the new purchasing cycle. Our focus is helping our partners transition into this new way of doing business.

Palo Alto Networks

Karl Soderlund

Senior VP, Worldwide Channels

The journey to the cloud continues to be the biggest challenge facing our partners in 2022. The reason is simple – the global uncertainty of what happens next. It is impossible to adapt to something that is not defined. We are going to help our partners strengthen their Palo Alto Networks foundation by focusing on their sales, technical, and services capabilities. We believe that with a strong foundation our partners can move with the market or, as in the case of the last 18 to 24 months, adapt to our rapidly changing world.


Jeff McCullough

VP, Global Partnerships

Expanding opportunity revenue through selling adjacent product and services. Partners will continue to face shrinking product sales revenue and will need to continue to drive services.


Bill Hustad

VP, Alliances, Channel Ecosystems

Splunk partners have shared their feedback in our recent Partner Advisory Council meetings that they have two big challenges ahead. Attracting and retaining talent to support their customers is a big challenge in the current environment. Secondly, they continue to be challenged to keep a high pace and agility to support their customers on their accelerated digital transformations and cloud migrations, needing to aid the move to both private and public clouds, as well as hybrid (including on-premises) deployments.


Bill Swales

VP, Americas Partner, Commercial Organization

The biggest challenge for our partners right now is supply chain constraints that are impacting our customers‘ ability to accelerate their digital transformations. Because of this, many customers are considering accelerating their journey to the cloud. Along the way, they’re becoming self-aware that they have skills gaps across their organizations. This has created a significant opportunity for partners that have experience, reference abilities, and use-case success in helping other customers on their cloud journeys. This is both a challenge for partners and a significant opportunity: There‘s now more reliance than ever for customers to leverage partner capabilities.

WatchGuard Technologies

Michelle Welch

Senior VP, Marketing

The pandemic has really forced a lot of organizations to take a deeper look at budgets and how they consume products and services – and security is no exception. There is a growing demand for no/low-commitment subscription or pay-as-you-go purchasing options. Many solution providers are reliant on distribution for product and service procurement, so shifting to a new, monthly recurring revenue-based business model via traditional distribution will be a challenge. Many distributors are investing, but there are still major gaps and partners will be forced to either work with distribution as they evolve or look for other, more subscription-friendly procurement channels.


Eric Barnhart

Sr. Director, Global Cloud, Channel Sales

Attracting and retaining talent will be the biggest challenge for our partners. Executing the right compensation model for customer-facing teams will be challenging but keeping the best people and attracting those with a vision that benefits their customers will be critical. We‘ll also see customer and employee experience prioritized over the coming years, taking the place of digital transformation initiatives. Partners will need to learn new technologies and talk to different people in their key accounts. All this change creates challenges but also opportunity. Finally, customers moving to OPEX, subscription, and consumption models are no longer buying large CAPEX solutions.