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The channel is going to play a crucial role in helping SMEs take advantage of digital transformation with many smaller firms unable to change their operations under their own steam.
Research from HPE Aruba looking into the question Are Europe's SMEs making the most of the digital workplace? has come up with some interesting answers that point to opportunities for the channel.
The networking specialist found that 85% of SMEs sought the advice of a local IT partner to help them with rolling out more digital services, including mobility and comms, because they were not in a position to navigate the topic on their own.
The firm found that many SMEs accepted that the digital workplace was going to be an important change not far off half had got any sort of strategy ready.
Chris Kozup, VP at HPE Aruba, said that there were various factors holding back the adoption of digital workplace technologies in the SME community, with cost and security close to the top.
"Firms want to embrace technology and move into the digital workplace but 50% of SMBs have still not yet developed a strategy to do that. Why they haven't made the move over is around cost and security," he said.
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Aruba HPE's conclusions
At the end of the Are Europe's SMEs making the most of the digital workplace? research the conclusion had some advice for the channel:
"As the majority of SMEs will turn to local IT resellers for advice, it will be vital for this IT sales channel to be working with the right product vendors to implement and support new technology solutions for enabling a mobile first workplace, and deliver the value-add services to those SMEs who have no or limited on-site IT capabilities."
He added that it was already encouraging partners to start selling network as a service and customers had responded positively to the idea of consuming technology that way.
"We are seeing a shift in IT and the technologies and business models," he added that there was also a skills gap that the channel could fill.
"The channel partners can build these practices [specialising in the digital workplace] and customers have already indicated they would rely on partners to help them," said Kozup.
One other finding from the discussions with European SMEs that caught Kozup's eye was the revelation that as well as making life better for staff there had also been positive implications for customers.
"We are seeing effects in the experience consumers had in dealing with the [firms that have gone through digital transformation]," he added.