Technology is so intertwined with business today that younger people look to themselves as sales, marketing, HR, operations or finance leaders and that technology is an obvious and ubiquitous part of their job role.
With all that said, born-in-the- cloud is still a formidable shadow channel as the skill level is high, business model optimised and energy level higher.
5 - Start-ups looking to disrupt traditional industries
It is difficult to measure start-ups, as many countries don’t keep track. The best estimate from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is there are about 613 million people trying to start about 396 million businesses.
About one third will be launched, so you can assume 133 million new firm births per year, with just shy of two million of those being technology start-ups.
These are big numbers and it’s safe to say that both innovation and entrepreneurship are as hot as ever. Each of these companies have a new idea or, what they think, is a better way to do things.
The shadow channel effect is that traditional service-based opportunities could be automated, replaced or deemed redundant in the future. The traditional channel is not immune to the reported 47 per cent of jobs that could be replaced by artificial intelligence, machines and robotics in the near future.
It is hard to predict the impact of each of these shadow channels against the future technology opportunity.
We do know that competition for traditional partners is shifting from the business across the street to a myriad of influencers on end customers.
The good news is that the pie is also growing. The technology industry grew 5.1 per cent during 2016 and is looking positive for years to come. The skills and resources to take advantage of this pie look much different than they did even three years ago.
The shadow channel is currently the wild west — the equivalent of where the traditional channel was maturity-wise in the early 1990’s.
They are putting customer businesses at risk everyday by playing fast and loose with customer data, financial and even HR data. Proprietary information is flying everywhere across public clouds by smaller start-ups with little control or regard for the ramifications (or regulations).
The traditional channel has an opportunity to play a crucial role as the adult in the room. Through strategic partnerships of their own, mergers, acquisitions, hiring/adopting the right skills, as well as business model changes, they can ensure that maturity is injected back into the system.
Things such as business continuity, security and compliance are critical requirements of the lines of business departments — and very few in the shadow channels can execute at this point.
Partners of the future
“Tquila is a pure-play Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner helping customers with today’s business imperatives of digital transformation.
“What makes Tquila unique is our depth of expertise in Salesforce implementations across Salesforce multi- cloud solutions, such as marketing; services, community, analytics, CPQ and integration with back-end and legacy systems.
“Even though we are still a young start-up, we have built a team of over 51 dedicated Salesforce professionals holding 100+ Salesforce certifications.
“We deliver a full range of services — from strategy, implementation and integration, through to custom applications development, governance and support.”
— Jo Masters - CEO, Tquila A/NZ
“We write software and solutions targeted at the financial services vertical that resellers can sell to their clients, making additional margin and differentiating themselves in the channel. Our software focuses on extending Microsoft 365 to perform enhanced document management.
“We’re an ISV with deep relationships with Microsoft, rhipe and several existing channel partners and we also partner with common accounting practice software such as CCH iFIrm and Xero.
“From a capability perspective, we focus on providing better development and documentation, while technical writing is key to enabling our partners.”
— Nick Beaugeard - CEO, HubOne
“We provide multiple layers of value, are non-competitive and entirely accretive to the IT channel. We hold quite a unique place in the ecosystem — we are a system integrator, a managed service provider (MSP) and distributor all rolled into one.
“We are an SI in that we integrate technologies however we don’t sell any tier-1 software or hardware (our partners do that) so vendors find it hard to provide us metal status’ as we don’t attribute any revenue
to our name.
“We are an MSP because we bring managed service offerings to our partners and we are a distributor because we represent several international ISVs, bringing their solutions to market.”
— Ronnie Altit - CEO, Insentra
“We are a start-up service integrator for cloud where we pride ourselves on being vendor agnostic when it comes to choosing the right fit for the end customer, alongside our growing advisory practice.
“Digital agendas are underpinned by cloud with a robust network and mature operations capability, and we are fiercely independent to ensure we maximise this opportunity.
“Strategic and collaborative are the two words that come to mind to describe our vendor relationships, with security now a big focus area for our business. As the dependency on data is growing in this digital world, back-up and disaster recovery solutions continue to grow in importance.”
— Sachin Verma - Managing Director, Oreta
Jay McBain is principal analyst of global channels at Forrester, specialising in research and advisory for global channels, alliances, and partnerships. McBain focuses on B2B marketing in the age of the customer; understanding and navigating the complexity of multiple routes to market; ensuring contextual and relevant content to accelerate the indirect sales process; and describing the technology infrastructure to build and support channel relationships.