Channel reveals high vote of confidence for the future after year of pivotal change

New research released by global channel services provider, Agilitas IT Solutions has revealed that optimism and confidence in the future of the channel remains high despite a challenging year, as decision-makers give an overall confidence score of 7.4 out of a possible 10. These findings come as the company launches its latest Channel Confidence Index 2021.

Decision-makers across the channel were asked to rate their feelings of confidence on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being very pessimistic, 10 being very optimistic) in response to a range of topics. New for 2021, Agilitas asked respondents to score their optimism for emerging trends, including sustainability, resilience, customer experience and productivity in addition to the report’s staple themes of people, finance, technology, disruption, innovation, collaboration, globalisation and relevance.

Given the year just passed, overall confidence has understandably shown a slight decline from the 7.6 levels recorded in the first Channel Confidence Index in November 2019. However, within the same context, such a marginal decrease proves that optimism is generally holding firm across the board, even as businesses face new challenges and transformation as a result of the pandemic.

A closer look at the Index’s core themes saw channel decision-makers give an average score of 7.2 across business transformation, going global, innovation and disruption, regulation, and political factors. This also represents a drop from the last report (7.5), but is yet another score that should encourage the sector about its commitment to withstanding both internal and external market challenges. As is the nature of channel partners, ‘stronger together’ categories of investment and culture and alliances were also positively scored with the same combined average of 7.2.

“This past year has been one of challenges, opportunities and lessons learned for the IT Channel community, and seeing such strong levels of confidence is hugely promising for the times ahead. It is also a celebration of the positive outlook from channel businesses to turn a moment of crisis into one of reinvention and betterment for the future of people and business,” commented Richard Eglon, Marketing Director of Agilitas.

Amongst many trends, this year’s report revealed a significant shift in confidence levels between different channel sectors. In 2019, managed service providers (MSPs) were by far the most optimistic, whilst IT distributors showed the lowest confidence. This year unveiled a complete role reversal between the two sectors, scoring 6.9 and 7.9, respectively. General technology solutions providers also responded with high levels of optimism at 7.9, as did independent software providers and IT resellers, each with a score of 7.5.

“Amidst a period of unforeseen and unavoidable change, the channel has been forced to accelerate its transformation to both survive and thrive. Many of the sector’s ‘disruptors’ quickly became the ‘disrupted’ and businesses have adapted in endless new ways to stay productive and drive efficiency through uncertain times. Our latest Channel Confidence bought the pace and scale of this change into sharp focus,” Eglon continued.

Other key findings from the report include:

·The most senior decision-makers continue to have the most positive outlook with Managing Director and CEOs the most optimistic at 8.5

·Larger companies are generally the most optimistic for another year. Those with 500+ employees were unchanged at 7.9, whilst smaller companies (10-99 employees) showed lowest levels at 7.1

·64% ranked their optimism to improve resilience at 8 and above on the confidence scale, versus 10% that ranked 5 and under

·71% of channel partners ranked the evolution of the customer experience at 7 and above, where 10 was ‘very significant’.

·Almost a third of channel businesses (29%) hope to implement an effective sustainability strategy in the next 6-12 months

·When asked how important productivity is to their business, confidence scores reached a 8.3 out of a possible 10 (with 10 being very important)

“Channel partners are committed to strengthening their resilience in the wake of the pandemic, as well as striving for greater collaboration, optimised supply chains and initiatives that support a more sustainable, circular economy. Now more than ever, technology has an integral role to play in removing waste and friction from past processes, to support workers and build a productive system that enhances results and experiences at every stage, at scale” added Eglon.

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