New research reveals what keeps the channel awake at night, as well as providing a glimpse into the 2011 market

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Research by next-generation technology provider Opal lifts the lid on the issues that most concern the channel and how they feel about business in 2011. The study, which questioned 1000 resellers, VARS and system integrators in October this year, was commissioned to investigate the channel's key concerns, and establish the most important factors for commercial success in 2011.

During the last 12 months, more than half of respondents 56% - felt that the combination of offering value-added services and price were the most critical elements to winning business.
Looking ahead, 30% of the channel members surveyed predicted that product capabilities will be the most important factor for success in 2011, 5% more than in 2010, a sign of the channel's increasing awareness of the key role that opportunities such as the Cloud will present.
A quarter of respondents would like to increase the expertise in their teams, which reflects growing awareness of the challenge that lack of customer knowledge is presenting this, combined with a firm reticence to change providers, is the biggest barrier to purchase, as highlighted by 60% of people questioned.
Bridging the gap between end user understanding of the latest solutions and their tangible benefits is a long-standing issue, and the importance of demonstrating added value to customers has never been greater for the channel.
Business in the channel has been building momentum for Opal, as the b2b arm of the TalkTalk Group continues to buck the trend, with 120 new partners joining in the past 12 months and month-on-month revenue growth. Opal has also pledged to continue to build its presence in the indirect channel and forecasts its resource growing considerably in 2011.  Opal's Ethernet offering has taken significant market share within its first year and it predicts revenue gains to continue to be strong.
Andy Hollingworth, director of wholesale at Opal, says: "Alongside this research, we also conducted in-depth discussions with our channel partners, and it is clear that the market continues to be challenging. What underpins all of these developments however is the need for consistency and a reliable, resilient service something that we are committed to supporting all of our partners with.
"The real success story for us in 2010 is the continued increase in business grade connectivity, which will drive hosted applications that are scalable in line with customer demand. For 2011 we are looking ahead to ensure all types of connectivity are business grade and resilient, enabling a greater choice and strong opportunity for partners to build value added services and applications."

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