One in three resellers may fall without better IT skills

CompTIA, the global trade association for computing companies has warned the UKs IT reseller community to train up or lose out.

Feedback from its membership of 22,000 technology companies has indicated that American resellers are struggling to understand the new mix of complex, converged technologies on offer today, and are beginning to losing business as a result. Like many IT market trends, the issue is expected to cross the Atlantic and reach the UK in the next six months.  CompTIA says without better education in the fundamentals of information technology, one third of all UK IT resellers will be out of business in five years as they fail to realise the potential from market opportunities expand around them. Most will become pigeonholed as low-value sales outlets rather than indispensible business consultants.

This challenge has already resulted in a crisis for the US channel community. Resellers are not providing the solutions and services that customers need and the perceived lack of value is forcing big companies to move away from traditional reseller strategies. Many small channel companies are losing out on business deals because they fail to see the opportunities new technologies are offering the market. Those that do spot them often cannot demonstrate enough technical expertise to take advantage.

The issue today in the US is that, resellers are too often seen as nothing more than box-shifters when they are increasingly required to be trusted technical advisors, explains Matthew Poyiadgi, CompTIAs European vice president. Customers are becoming more sophisticated in the way they buy technology and services. More and more they look to suppliers to counsel them on which solutions will solve business problems and demonstrate a clear return on investment. They dont want product-orientated answers anymore. Its not long before we can expect to see these trends emerging in the UK as our local market reacts to changes overseas.

CompTIA is not the only organisation to be concerned about the decline in IT reseller skills. Channel supplier Autotask has also recognised the changing fortunes of its customers.  The reseller community is our customer. Weve noticed the trends CompTIA has highlighted and we also see these companies struggle with the transition to managed services. We advise our customers in the US and abroad that their success depends on a combination of good business skills, best practices, process automation and solid technical competence. Above all, justifying the value of their services to their client is essential.

CompTIA says the UK channel has a chance to address this issue before it starts to hit by better educating itself through industry-recognised qualifications.  By bringing companies up to speed on the latest technical developments and training the channel workforce on the fundamentals of business technology, CompTIA believes resellers can achieve a much stronger position. To this end, it is bringing IT resellers together in London next month to determine what skills the channel needs to acquire in order to survive. CompTIAs Breakaway event will demonstrate the tools, education and skills programmes required to achieve this. It will also be the stage for the launch of a new set of tools for resellers to use to develop their businesses skills called Sales Xpotential.  Breakaway will be held on 24th 26th October and will encourage the channel to work with its partners to find the best routes to better IT and business skills.

Skills are the key, says Poyiadgi. If the channel trains up, it can become a valuable source of information, advice and partnership. If not, it will be commoditised.

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