Published: September 28th, 2017

The year 2018 is going to be all about the journey Canadian channel partners will take to get across the digital divide, says IDC Canada in it’s 2017 IDC Canadian Channel Survey report.

David Senf, program vice president of Infrastructure Solutions Group at IDC Canada, explained at a CDN 2017 Channel Elite Awards workshop that the survey identified four stages of digital transformation that channel partners are experiencing. Those stages are:

  • Stage 1: Traditionalist
  • Stage 2: Experimentalist
  • Stage 3: Operationalist
  • Stage 4: Strategist

“We want [partners] to be more experimental. When we think of where our market is at, we do have this digital divide, and we want partners to go from experimentalists to operationalists to continue to have a healthy Canadian economy,” Senf said.

The report describes traditionalist partners are those with digital transformation farther off on their road-map with legacy in their technology, skills, and processes. Experimentalists are those solution providers who are digital transformation aware and starting to deliver Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions.

The divide comes between experimentalists and operationalists who have made that jump in digital transformation and have begun infusing their entire business with that mentality. “We aren’t just talking about one part of the business, but everywhere in the business. Human resources, marketing, etc.,” Senf said. Once that digital transformation mentality has been infused across the business, that’s when partners become strategists.

According to the report, channel execs on the right side of the divide said that data is a strategic asset, technology is a source of competitive advantage, cloud is the most important technology, and that they are more satisfied with technology suppliers. To help partners who have yet to cross the divide Senf said, “we need to continue to educate our market on how to get there, and you do that by explaining and showing that path.”

Senf explained how Canadian channel partners extending down south are an example of those partners who are succeeding, indicating that 33 per cent of Canadian channel partners have expanded into the U.S. and they are reporting higher revenue growth of cross-border partners.

It may also be benefitial for Canadian partners to replicate what their American counterparts are doing, with IDC reporting that U.S. partners are taking the lead on 3rd Platform, digital transformation, and Internet of Things (IoT), while Canadian partners are holding on to legacy technology, Senf added.

For example, the top channel focuses for 2018 of U.S. channel partners are cloud, digital transformation, IT security, IoT, and big data/machine learning/artificial intelligence, compared to Canadian partners who are focused on infrastructure solutions, cloud, IT security, client solutions, and application development.

“For years we have talked about how far Canada is from the U.S., whether that be eight months, a year, or 15 months. It shows that we need to start moving some of the top focus areas in the U.S. to Canada because it is associated with much higher profitability and growth,” Senf said.

Looking at 2018, the IDC Canada report indicates 10 channel actions that Canadian channel partners can take over the next year to help move along those stages.

  1. Advance digital transformation plans and investment within your business
  2. Endure deal size decrease and sales cycle increase, but implementation time decrease
  3. Smooth out revenue and spur growth with annuity sources
  4. Diversify offerings from a strong base
  5. Expand digital marketing efforts
  6. Sign new logos by training sales on cloud, digital transformation, etc.
  7. Develop IP to sell/resell
  8. Be open to new relationships
  9. Be optimistic, creative, and curious about new tech
  10. Partners older than 15-years-old should keep learning and adapting

The IDC Canada research for the 2017 IDC Canadian Channel Survey was conducted across 126 channel partners with Canadian revenue.