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Is the channel ready for digital transformation?

That’s the question Red Hat, CRN UK and Channelnomics Europe recently posed to CRN’s European database. “The digital transformation challenge: Is the channel really ready?” a report, sponsored by Red Hat, which gives unique insight into various digital transformation journeys and strategies, is the result of a variety of channel focused questions revolving around digital transformation. With input from more than 140 resellers, systems integrators, MSPs and consultancies in the UK, France and Germany, the report uncovers key trends in the channel, and examines many of the pain points and skills shortages that respondents from partner organizations have faced over the past year, as well as where they are seeing the most demand for digital transformation. Below are some of the key highlights from the report.

Digital transformation is a work in progress
Respondents were asked how well equipped they feel to aid customers on their digital transformation journey. Only 22 per cent of respondents believe they are fully equipped to help customers with digital transformation projects, with over a fifth of respondents (22.5 per cent) confessing that they are not up to scratch. The verdict: although customers may now have embarked on their digital transformation journey, many partners have yet to truly capitalise.

Partners must step outside their comfort zone and offer consultancy services
One trend that was amplified throughout: more partner organizations are providing consultancy services in order to provide value added services as well as communicate to the lines of business. Nearly half (49.6 per cent) of respondents said they had increased their consultancy skills in the last year, far ahead of growing technical skills such as enterprise mobility (36.3 per cent) and IoT (30.1 per cent). The conclusion, given an increase in digital transformation among customers, partners that invest in consultancy expertise may have the potential for a significant business opportunity.

Digital transformation: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
With technology now being a focal point of what companies do, it’s only natural that business heads, as well as CTO/CIOs, will want oversight of technology purchasing decisions. However, when asked whose responsibility it is to adopt digital strategies throughout an organisation, roughly half (49.5 per cent) of respondents see the CEO/MD as the person most frequently responsible, compared with less than a third (29.5 per cent) for CIOs. Digitalisation can be imperative to business prosperity, and as such should be driven from the top as well as from IT.

There is a digital transformation skills gap in the channel
More than one in three respondents (35 per cent) cited lack of in-house knowledge and skills as their biggest concern when it comes to supporting customers on their digital transformation journey. IoT was a particular concern amongst respondents, with 37 per cent feeling they had a skills shortage around IoT, more than any other area. The next main worries were skills in analytics (27.1 per cent), security (25.2 per cent) and cloud (22.4 per cent).

Respondents were also asked, in the context of digital transformation, which areas of their product and services portfolio they have boosted in the last 12 months, with cloud coming out on top at 77 per cent. So, it seems that many partner organizations are expanding their cloud capabilities, yet feeling the strain when it comes to nurturing cloud skills and the right talent.

End users are ready
Far fewer respondents cited lack of customer demand for digital transformation as their main concern in the survey. In fact, a quarter of respondents said that most of their customers are making investments in digital.

One thing was clear to me after I read the report: digital transformation projects require partners to deliver state-of-the-art technology skills, but also add a plethora of skills requirements in the area of business consultancy and vertical credibility. By doing this, partners can put themselves in the best position to help customers and differentiate in the saturated market of legacy IT product and services.

This CRN research is the sort of intelligence the channel needs to digest as it asked the digital transformation questions that partners need to hear. For a deeper dive into the survey findings and what they mean for the channel, read the full report here, which provides a complete breakdown of each question posed to respondents in the UK, France and Germany.

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