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Channel leaders feeling positive

The highest levels of optimism seen for five years among those driving the industry have been fuelled by growth in AI and other emerging technologies

This year was always destined to have a different narrative after a challenging 2023, with the channel yearning for more positivity.

Hopes that macro-economic conditions would improve and customer confidence would return were on the top of most wish lists at the end of last year.

A couple of months in, and those publicly listed channel players have continued to deliver decent results, hopes of generative AI driving spending are gathering pace and reasons to be cheerful have risen.

As a result, the findings contained in the latest Agilitas IT solutions survey of channel leaders reinforce that general feeling, with levels of optimism the highest they have been in five years, and the overall confidence score reaching 7.9 out of a possible 10.

The buzz around artificial intelligence can be found everywhere, and the Agilitas survey was no different, with 82% of respondents stating the technology would positively impact their business. Getting to that stage might be a challenge, with lower numbers actually using the technology right now.

Channel leaders believed their businesses were in a position to exploit emerging technologies, but those levels of confidence were markedly lower when employees were asked the same question.

The possible areas where a business could improve meant that leadership was struggling to establish where the most efforts should be made.

Prioritising efforts

John Hayes-Warren, CEO of Agilitas, said: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for channel companies to prioritise their efforts, with increasing pressures related to emerging technologies, resilient company cultures, sustainability initiatives and the customer experience.

“Despite this, it’s promising to see many channel leaders starting to put their strategies into action, and keep pace with the market changes,” he added. “Our 2024 channel trends report aims to help businesses identify the biggest gains, what strategies are being prioritised, and most importantly, whether enough is being done to prosper.”

Where there is more work to be done is around bridging the gap between bosses and workers to ensure innovative technologies are adopted successfully and a decent company culture is established.

On the sustainability front, 77% of those quizzed stated the issue would be a focus for the next year. But there is still a long way for the channel to go, with less than 20% currently in a position where they can calculate their full carbon footprint across scopes 1, 2 and 3.

It has become clear the issue matters to customers, and those channel players that fail to meet expectations and demonstrate a sustainability strategy will risk losing business.

The channel is not alone in struggling to embed sustainability into business strategies, with research from Kyndryl and Microsoft finding that under half (45%) are failing to use IT to meet their green goals.

The pressure is on partners to have the answers, with the study indicating that significant numbers of customers are turning to consulting firms and system integrators to improve their green position. 

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