Exertis has an unusually comprehensive and multi-faceted perspective on the technology industry. As this year draws to a close, Jonathan Wagstaff, Business Intelligence Manager, Exertis Group, offers his predictions for 2021 and provides his take on the trends that will shape the channel in the 12 months ahead.
Digital transformation and automation continue to be huge opportunities as Jonathan said, “these will be the key drivers alongside the growth of Edge solutions that will support the expected IoT systems, vehicles and devices dependent upon them. Unlike centralised cloud provision, Edge needs the channel to push out rather than pull back in, so to speak.”
Looking at potential threats, Jonathan believes the macroeconomic shock of COVID-19 combined with the UK leaving the Customs Union (whether there is an FTA in place or not) could impact both consumer and business demand. He said, “at DCCT and DCC we benefit from a strong balance sheet and diverse portfolio/geography. However, the channel players who lack these advantages, or are lagging in their digital capabilities, may struggle.
“Now, more than ever, channel businesses without strong digital and value-add capabilities will be at a disadvantage. Like any industry, we are at the mercy of macroeconomic trends, but a situation where vendors and customers struggle with complexity in the supply chain is going to be beneficial to those organisations who specialise in navigating such complexities.”
In terms of the focuses and capabilities of different sized companies, there’s still evidence of pent-up demand for devices for some verticals. Jonathan said, “however, there’s an expectation that enterprise spending will pick up again in 2021 as postponed projects start to restart. We also expect the acceleration of digital transformation to continue; here the channel has a critical role. The largest organisations will likely be further down the road of cloud migration. However, small and medium-sized businesses are still going to need the channel, particularly in countries where cloud adoption is lagging.”
So, what does the future hold, after a turbulent year for many? Jonathan said, “even with the good news around vaccines developed in record times, the COVID-19 disruption will continue into the new year. Gartner has spoken of a CIO reaction around respond, recover, renew. ‘Respond’ was about keeping essential functions operating (issuing WFH equipment), ‘recover’ is about stabilisation – which is where many businesses are now. What will be very interesting to see, will be the renewal cycle where business models and IT will need to be adjusted to the new reality.”
This includes a solidifying of working from home practices as he added, “along with business’s networking/device/cloud requirements, and an examination of digital capabilities with the huge and transformational shift online we’ve seen over the last year. Clearly the rush to supply devices was going to be a largely 2020 phenomenon, but we still expect the channel to benefit from supporting these societal and business changes long into 2021.”