One of the consequences of the coronavirus lockdown has been the increased shift to online communication to make sure people can continue to collaborate and socialise.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams have seen usage numbers surge and it has been no different in the channel as resellers and distributors look for ways to keep in contact with suppliers and customers.
One of the initiatives launched during lockdown by Tech Data has been its online community lunch sessions.
The distributor has been using the sessions to reach up to 100 resellers plus on a daily basis, talking about a range of topics, including technology, business solutions, business trends and even advice on mental health.
Simon Bennett, business unit director for enterprise software and cloud at Tech Data, said topics covered so far had included hyperconverged infrastructure and artificial intelligence, and the firm had been getting a stream of positive feedback from partners.
The distie came up with a list of 50-plus areas that it felt its partners would benefit from hearing about and has been working through those. The sessions have also bought in other experts in the business to provide updates on general market trends, as well as reacting to events such as Mental Awareness Week with advice on that subject.
“We have got to be consistent and we have talked about how this will continue when we are out of Covid-19,” said Bennett. “Thought has gone into the consistency and the right topics.”
The community lunches had the backing of senior management, he said. “It has come from the top. If you look after your people, you will look after your customers.”
The distributor has decided this will also be its own initiative and it has not looked to turn it into a vendor-funded activity.
“We have been really agnostic and are not trying to go into a big vendor pitch,” said Bennett.
There are likely to be long-term changes that come out of the coronavirus experience and Bennett said Tech Data had seen a strong reaction from resellers to its efforts to be transparent and increase its communication, and it would look to continue that in the future.
“It has surprised us,” he said. “It’s a small acorn idea and the partners are giving us nice feedback on email and we are looking at what we do next. Our business partners want that and they want to speak to human beings.”
The shift to digital has been widespread as more workers have been forced to work from home as most countries have rolled out some form of lockdown. Last month, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan revealed that the platform’s daily users had increased to 200 million in March from a previous high of just 10 million.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed at the end of last month that Teams had seen similar growth, increasing to more than 75 million users, 30 million more than the month before.