Independent research and advisory firm Forrester
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What I see coming for the channel in 2020: Part 2

30th Jan 2020
Independent research and advisory firm Forrester
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In my previous post, I shared the first three of 10 predictions I see coming for the channel in 2020. See below the next four of what I think is to come this year. 

2020 Trends

Channel Professionals Become Ecosystem Professionals 

In an Accenture survey, 76% of business leaders agree that current business models will be unrecognizable in the next five years — ecosystems will be the main change agent. Reading the annual reports of the Fortune 500, it is becoming abundantly clear that every company is becoming a technology company, such as, for example, the legacy manufacturer of forklifts that integrated IoT sensors in its product and now delivers thousands of data points per second to construction companies, architects, and others in the value chain. The company has partnered with AWS, Google, and Microsoft and is busy building a tech partner ecosystem. 

The average program has 90 different elements and implementing it across transacting and nontransacting partners is surprisingly easy. Partners of all types (transactional and nontransactional) need to be found and recruited, onboarded, educated, trained, incentivized, motivated, loyal, and have the tools necessary to support/promote your product or service from a sales and marketing perspective. 

Emerging Tech Is No Longer Emerging — It Is Here 

In 2019, we saw many of the emerging tech categories that we have been watching for years turn into multimillion-dollar revenue streams for partners. 2020 will be the year of switching early adopters into an early majority for technologies such as IoT, AI, automation, 5G, advanced security, and blockchain. 

The fastest-growing subindustry in the technology space has been RPA, or robotic process automation. RPA blends workflow automation with AI and software bots and has become one of the foundational tools of digital transformation.  

New Channel Tech Companies Emerge In Ecosystem Space 

The channel software tech stack from 2019 included 106 companies that were broken down into six categories, including partner relationship management, through-channel marketing automation, channel incentives and program management, channel data management, channel enablement, and channel finance. 

In 2020, we are seeing several moves toward channel software that supports transacting- and nontransacting-type partners. From a functionality perspective, support for resellers, managed services providers (MSPs), referral partners (affinity, affiliate, advocate, ambassador, digital influencer, etc.), alliance partners, ISVs, consultants, and shadow channels is a necessity. Attribution, which has traditionally been in marketing domains, is quickly becoming a critical skill for channel professionals growing a trifurcated channel. 

In 2019, we saw M&A activity such as Impartner acquiring Amplifinity, Loyaltyworks merging with Incentive Solutions, 360insights acquiring MTC Performance, and E2open acquiring Averetek, as well as some pure ecosystem technology plays by Impact, WorkSpan, and Crossbeam, along with early-stage companies Apideck, TidWiT, and P2P Global. 

Partner Experience (PX) Will Catch Up To Customer Experience (CX) 

B2B channels are in transition — from a tiered, resale, and fulfillment function to a more fluid indirect ecosystem of affiliates, advocates, alliances, and referral partners. Upward of 70% of global revenue comes from third-party channels, and partners play a key role in shaping the customer experience. But most organizations have been slow to make the link between partner experience and customer experience. 

A strong 43% of global B2B marketing decision makers rank improving customer experience as a top priority in 2019, while 39% are looking to improve the partner experience. We predict marketing decision makers will rank improving partner experience on par with improving customer experience in 2020, and both will rise to more than 50%. 

Brands are wising up to the notion that customer obsession also means partner obsession and are looking for channel organizations to deliver. 

This post was written by Principal Analyst, Channel Partnerships & Alliances Jay McBain, and it originally appeared here. 

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