Channel tech predictions for a hybrid working future

Nick Offin, head of sales, marketing and operations at Dynabook Northern Europe, shares some thoughts about the opportunities that are emerging for the channel

It is difficult to make predictions about the future. Especially when it’s predicting a future for the channel, which is a completely imperfect exercise due to how rapidly things progress, challenges to innovation and the unpredictability of consumer trends which resellers constantly have to evolve with.

Although only a few new technological or business developments have disrupted the status quo over the past 12 months, it was a year that certainly accelerated many technology trends already in motion for the channel. However, based on current enterprise and consumer behaviour, we can attempt to make some predictions on which technologies will impact the channel most in 2022.

1. 2022 will be the year for the channel to drive mobile edge computing and smart glasses forward

A 2020 report by IBM found that 91% of businesses plan to implement edge computing strategies within the next five years. Meanwhile, our own research has found that 63% of organisations plan to deploy smart glasses within the next 24 months.

In industries such as maintenance and logistics, this will increasingly become the norm as devices such as assisted reality (AR) smart glasses will be key to enabling front-line or field workers to work anywhere without having access to a Wi-Fi network. In 2022, we believe businesses will formalise their ideas to implement these technologies.

The channel will play a crucial role in adapting and accelerating this process to drive these solutions forward. As more customers look to integrate and use smart glasses and edge computing, they will look to specialist partners who are experts in the field to offer the right consultancy and advice.

2. The channel will be a trusted adviser for a secure, hybrid work environment

The last year has changed working environments for ever, but hybrid working does not come without risks. The current climate has forced businesses to regularly evaluate their security processes to protect both employee and company data. In 2022, we believe one area where this will really gain attention is in device security.

Our research found that 81% of IT decision-makers ranked security features as important when it comes to purchasing decisions around new devices – and this will continue to be the case for as long as staff members are taking these devices home.

As more businesses look to adopt more secure solutions, the channel will support remote workers by becoming their trusted adviser – offering knowledge from their own security skillsets, as well as secure solutions across both hardware and software, including two-factor authentication, Windows 11, Trusted Platform Module and mobile-secure client solutions.

Such an approach provides resellers with an opportunity to create a bespoke digital roadmap for customers, outlining objectives to meet their end goals, and supporting them on their journey to ensure that working from home is as secure as being in the office or on-site.

3. Salespeople will need to evolve to maintain personable relationships

One of the biggest changes in the channel sales journey over the last year has been around maintaining personable interactions with customers in times of remote working. For the channel, selling has traditionally been about building and maintaining relationships, whereby salespeople would take customers through a personal journey, meeting face to face to discuss product and service offerings. As more salespeople are working remotely today, there has been a challenge for customers to meet an entire sales team in an effective, personable and timeless manner.

As hybrid working continues, there will be a need for account managers to help salespeople adapt through this change, and help them understand the best way to continue that personable interaction with customers through the use of technological tools, such as CRM, YouTube, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and more.

4. Drone delivery services will make the channel more profitable

Covid-19 presented many challenges to global supply chains, and industries such as logistics needed technologies such as automation and robotics to help pick, pack and dispatch ever-increasing amounts of orders. Both of these technologies will continue to play a key role in this space as we go further into 2022.

Meanwhile, drone delivery services were ahead of their time five years ago, which is a large part of the reason that Amazon’s Prime Air plans are currently on the rocks. But recent predictions say the tide is about to change: the global warehouse robotics market is expected to grow from $4.7bn in 2021 to $9.1bn by 2026.

As drone delivery services starts to find their feet, this can open up new revenue opportunities. Channel partners who will be the first to market and embrace these solutions will succeed, and we expect to see more conversations around drone delivery services in the next 12 months.

5. The channel will play a key role in offering sustainable packages

We think that 2022 will be the year of the recycled laptop. With device fleets being updated more frequently in the past year, there is understandably a growing concern about the damaging impact this could have on the environment, and businesses are being pressured to act.

E-Waste found that 97% of enterprises around the world had to purchase new laptops to accommodate the shift to remote working during the pandemic. In 2022, we will see businesses planning to make smart and sustainable choices in a number of ways. One of the “easy wins” will be to start ethically disposing of old devices through initiatives such as reselling and recycling.

This provides an opportunity for resellers to develop a whole end-to-end package with sustainable credentials for customers looking to recycle or dispose of old devices in an ethical way, resulting in those customers reducing their carbon footprint and making hybrid working work for everyone.

Nick Offin is an experienced sales and marketing professional. His role at Dynabook includes managing sales teams across public, corporate and education sectors, and partners across the UK & Ireland, and the Nordics

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