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As the channel looks ahead to 2023, here are the three areas Paul Flannery, VP of International Channel Sales at Epicor believes resellers, VARs, integrators, MSPs and consultants should focus on to continue to grow.
Channel experts’ value lies in de-risking technology purchases
The current economic climate means that appetite for risk is extremely low. Despite this, businesses know they need to continue to innovate and digitise if they are to survive, and this involves staying at the forefront of technology. In fact, 95% of businesses we spoke to told us that right-fit technology will accelerate growth for their business.
The role of channel businesses is to position themselves as consultants, as buyers look for experts to provide validation and confirmation, which de-risks their technology purchases.
For business technology purchases that will become the core of a business such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and equivalent software services, buyers want to speak to an expert to understand what digital transformation actually looks like in their industry, including best practice, process, and what success looks like.
Buyers are also likely to want strong project management alongside implementation support, to ensure that the customer isn’t left with an expensive piece of complex technology that they must figure out for themselves.
While the rise of self-service options such as e-procurement means some customers are bypassing the channel and even vendor salespeople when making technology purchases, this is not a trend we expect to significantly impact the channel’s opportunity for growth, particularly in more complex sectors, such as aerospace, automotive and manufacturing.
Predictable business planning tools with interoperability
Business planning technology solutions have never been more vital. Channel partners that can offer solutions that include forward planning, financial planning and simulations that give buyers the data to make the right decisions in a volatile environment should be well placed in the next 12 months.
Customers need one source of truth for all their data points, with a digital core that runs through their businesses. Other apps which monitor disparate parts of the businesses should be able to integrate with this digital core, so interoperability of all software solutions will be a key selling point. For example, if unpredictable energy prices, stock costings or the wage bill data is in silos, any financial and business planning tools will be of limited use this winter.
Although there is a lot of hype about the potential of predictive analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), these solutions can’t offer full value to customers if that one source of truth isn’t already in place.
Getting green positioning right
In our hyperconnected business environment, many people realise that the only way whole industries are going to significantly reduce emissions is by managing the sustainability of their connected supply and value chains. Otherwise, it’s too easy to claim one company is ‘green’ without acknowledging that the companies its buys from aren’t.
However, due to rising interest rates, energy costs, and many other factors, survival over the next 6 months and beyond is the most pressing issue for most businesses. This is particularly true in the energy-intensive sectors we serve, such as automotive, construction, distribution, and manufacturing.
Channel partners and vendors need to strike the right balance in their own marketing and sales pitches to technology buyers; first and foremost the technology solutions they are recommending will help customers improve their businesses resilience and increase profit margins, and therefore justify the investment when spend is under increasing scrutiny.
However, new technology must help buyers achieve their business goals without rolling back any progress that’s already been made on decarbonisation or emissions reduction, as the C-Suite needs to report to stakeholders (including investors, media and end consumers), that their operations and the vendors they work with are taking steps to become greener.
Today, pleading ignorance down your supply chain isn’t good enough. This positioning challenge is where channel partners can provide trusted guidance on the right technology buying decisions, which will give the C-suite the confidence it needs to proceed.
 Epicor surveyed 1,350 IT decision-makers in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, in the manufacturing, distribution, building supply, automotive and retail industries. The interviews were conducted in English from April 1 to 22, 2022 by PSB. The findings were released by Epicor in its annual Industry Insights Report.