97% of channel partners say data is key to growth and transformation

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Channel partners see data as both their biggest challenge and a major opportunity as they look to achieve growth and transition to recurring revenue models, according to new research.

Westcon-Comstor, a global technology provider and specialist distributor, surveyed more than 500 senior decision makers at partners across nine countries and found that 97% see data as important in their journey to an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) future.

At the same time, access to the right data is the biggest obstacle facing partners in their pursuit of recurring revenues, with 56% of UK-based respondents highlighting this as an issue. 

Demand is strongest for data that can identify and enable market growth opportunities. 

This trend is consistent across all markets where research for the Bridging the Gap: Power Up Your Data for Channel Partner Transformation report was carried out: the UK, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Handling of multiple diverse data types emerged as partners’ biggest practical challenge and many acknowledged the need to bolster their internal capabilities to address gaps in how they utilise and apply data for lifecycle selling.   

“Our biggest challenge with data is the volumes we receive, and second to that would be that it resides in so many different places and it often conflicts,” said Samuel Cordery, Head of Sales Operations, Client Success, and Lifecycle, at UK-based ITGL, one of the channel partners interviewed for the research.  

Partners feel a particular need to become more sophisticated in their use of data to both maximise cross-sell and upsell opportunities and drive adoption of new products and solutions.   

Nearly all UK-based respondents (94%) identified data capabilities as a key investment priority for the coming year, compared to a global average of 95%, with 71% stating that they already have an in-house data and analytics function as a foundation (global average: 70%).

To emphasise the growing importance of data within the channel, more than half of those surveyed in the UK (53%) strongly agreed that the future of distribution lies in the provision of meaningful customer and market insights (global average: 59%). 

“Our research clearly shows that while partners see data as central to their transition to recurring revenue models, many are grappling with practical challenges around access to data and data utilisation,” said Patrick Aronson, Chief Marketing Officer and APAC Executive Vice President at Westcon-Comstor. “Application of data and attitudes to it vary across different geographic markets, but one universal theme is that partners want to enhance their data capabilities and embed a truly data-driven approach as they aim to unlock growth opportunities. It is incumbent on those across the channel ecosystem, including distributors, to equip partners with the data and analytics they need to seize new growth opportunities and complete their journey to a subscription, software and services-based future.” 

About the research

Research was commissioned by Westcon-Comstor and conducted by Coleman Parkes between 12 October 2023 and 7 December 2023. 540 commercial decision makers for value-added resellers, managed service providers and systems integrators were surveyed via an online methodology. Countries included in the research were the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

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