A blind channelwide survey commissioned by TBI in conjunction with AT&T not only provided an overall profile of the state of the channel, but also gave the master agent valuable insights as to what its own partners will be looking to them for in the year ahead.
Data from more than 100 respondents, plus qualitative and quantitative interviews, showed that the prevalence of SD-WAN, security and overall digital transformation initiatives undertaken by businesses is driving demand in the direct channel.
According to the report, one in three respondents offer SDN solutions and SD-WAN along with solutions related to IoT. More than half of respondents are helping customers with their digital transformation plans and nearly a quarter have imminent plans to do so. Slightly less than half of respondents said the information technology and finance spaces demonstrate the greatest demand for their services where the need for security and encrypted data, as well as highly personalized customer experiences necessitates digital transformation.
As for leading opportunities for the channel, security leads the pack with more than 50 percent of respondents citing security as having the greatest potential for industry influence, transformative power and revenue generation.
“I was pleasantly surprised that over 50 percent of respondents currently offer some form of security or that they have brought it into their portfolio,” said Corey Cohen, director of marketing for TBI. “The learning curve is high [on security], considering that it is a skill pivot for many traditional telecommunication partners. We have heard that they want to have more technical resources available to be brought into conversations before they go off on their own.”
While the number of respondents currently offering some sort of security was higher than Cohen expected, she said she wasn’t surprised to learn how many are planning to augment their security offering in 2019. Neither was Dave Landsberger, TBI’s director of training and events.
“There’s a changing definition of what security is in the channel,” he said. “Firewalls are security, but they’re kind of table stakes at this point. That’s supported by the fact that respondents said they are looking at penetration testing and other types of services.”
What did surprise Landsberger, though, was the number of partners “planning on making mobility a bigger part of their offering over the next 18 months. I actually thought the numbers would be higher.”
“That’s definitely an area where partners need to put way more attention, ” he said. “The competition in that space is increasing so much, maybe that’s scaring partners away. Maybe they just feel like it’s an entirely new practice and they don’t want to go for it quite yet — which has been the resistance to security in the past. ‘Oh…