New research reveals key opportunities for channel partners to support SMBs

Research conducted by channel technology firms Giacom, Digital Wholesale Solutions (DWS) and Union Street across 200 small business leaders reveals nearly 70% are feeling overwhelmingly positive about the prospects for their businesses moving forwards.

Additionally, 67% are confident in their company’s growth prospects through 2021. This survey comes after a challenging previous 12-months for many UK businesses, as a consequence of the pandemic on the economy. 

The research also points out that UK businesses expect to increase their IT spend in 2021 as they look to improve operational efficiency and access more markets to give them a competitive advantage. But, they admit can’t do this alone and 37% say the most helpful thing a technology supplier can do for them is assist with making the right investments in technology. This presents a key opportunity for channel partners to become trusted advisors to customers, as they support them with remote working and digital transformation needs.

Remote working priorities for SMBs

During the first lockdown, businesses rushed to put temporary fixes in place to get employees working from home. Now, awake to the fact that this change in the way everyone works is here to stay, many SMBs recognise a need to invest in remote working long term. Therefore, research respondents provided four clear and immediate priorities related to remote working requirements; all of which the channel can support by aligning with a proven partner. 

Four immediate priorities:

  • Making collaboration work for the long term – Most small businesses have now deployed either Zoom, for more consumer use, or Teams, for business use. They need help to understand what will work for the long term; which is excellent to use and secure; all while creating a platform to do more.
  • Fixing home broadband – More than 40% of businesses are reporting problems with staff working at home, caused by poor networks. Over 60% say they are ready to invest to give their teams business-grade, secure connectivity at home.
  • Deploying a cloud or hosted telephone system – Many small businesses have run their businesses in lockdown by diverting their landline to their mobile. Fixing this for the long term couldn’t be more straightforward, affordable and beneficial, helping to manage inbound calls on an all-in-one communication solution. 
  • Joining together collaboration and communications – They want to connect their systems so as not to silo customers and staff. Offering Voice Solutions allows partners to add a new revenue stream to their business, tapping into the multibillion-pound UK telephony market.

Driving digital across the wider business

In addition, the research points out that 94% of business leaders recognise that further adaptations are required to support working from home. Once small businesses have sorted out their pressing remote working priorities, they need to figure out how to drive digital technology across their whole business, to improve the way they do everything for the long term. This means there is an incredible technology opportunity for the channel to help with:

  • Storage in the cloud – Businesses now realise the liberation and flexibility they get when everything lives in the cloud and everything is connected to everything else.
  • Fibre and 5G – Businesses need a super-fast network to make this work, at home, on the move and in hubs, and with 5G and fibre rolling out fast, they will invest to get the best.
  • Security – Built into everything they use so they don’t need to worry about it.
  • Mobile and Microsoft 365 – Putting all those amazing apps into the palm of everyone’s hand.
  • Automation – Going systematically through the business and automating workflows – from filling in forms to ordering and ecommerce to HR processes 

Steve Law, Chief Technology Officer, Giacom said: “At DWS, Giacom and Union Street, we are encouraging channel partners to embrace this need for flexible working solutions, offering a comprehensive suite of products to address the needs of the home worker, from VoIP to collaboration apps, not to mention the underlying connectivity that supports it all. 

“Although many MSPs are already making the most of the convergence opportunity, those not yet selling both IT and comms solutions are missing out. By offering a portfolio of digital products and services that work together, the channel can capitalise on the remote working environment and help customers unlock hidden revenue with new technologies.”

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