Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Digital Transformation and the future of Reseller channel

The past 15 years have been tough for traditional resellers. Digital transformation will benefit the reseller channel. Today, the IT industry is abuzz with discussion of digital transformation. Unlike smartphones and cloud, however, DX may actually provide upside for traditional channel members. In this document, Techaisle, in its latest white paper argues in favor of the proposition “DX will deliver new opportunity for traditional VAR businesses”. VARs are best positioned to scale “the twin ladders” to deliver digital transformation technology building blocks and the Interwork platform helps the channel position digital transformation initiatives in successfully navigating through and across digital transformation delivery stages.

In many cases, channel organizations that describe digital transformation to prospective clients are really talking about digitization, or some combination of digitization and digitalization. This is particularly true of MSPs or cloud (SaaS, IaaS) suppliers who are positioning their infrastructure management offerings – which are, for the most part, vehicles for augmentation – as a means of achieving DX. However, in its transformational end stages, DX is defined not by supplier delivery but by customer processes and objectives.

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Techaisle study reveals top 3 channel partner managed services success inhibitors

Inability to balance product resale and services revenue, inability to adjust to a customer-centric approach and inability to align recurring and non-recurring revenues are severely holding back the MSPs. Since 2008 Techaisle has been conducting managed services studies, both demand side within SMB & Midmarket segments and supply-side within the VARs, MSPs, SIs, SPs, Consultants offering managed services. Each year Techaisle (latest report deliverables are here) has been quantifying what separates the successful and unsuccessful managed services channel partners. And there are several data-evinced barriers to entry and success factors. To understand barriers to entry, it is important to first define the characteristics that are important to success as an MSP. There are many but let us discuss three that always percolate to the top:

  1. The ability to sell services independently from product sales (while maintaining the ability to sell products to customers as well).
  2. The ability to package and efficiently deliver standardized services to multiple customers, growing by expanding portfolios of discrete services rather than by simply agreeing to address sprawling customer requirements on a ‘one-off’ basis.
  3. The ability to align internal processes and costs/cash flow with a recurring revenue (rather than transactional) approach to the business.

Techaisle research substantiates the importance of each of these key characteristics.

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Europe and US SMBs - Managed services support growth and savings

US and European SMB buyers believe that managed services contribute to both cost savings and to business growth. As the figures below show, managed services is seen as helping buyers to achieve lower IT costs, greater control over IT environments, and higher performance with less IT downtime; managed services also helps businesses to “maintain a lean business environment” and to provide predictable performance, user experience and cost. On the growth side of the equation, superior (relative to internal options) MSP responsiveness to IT problems is seen as a means of achieving better productivity; MSPs are also seen as helping SMBs to maintain focus on core business competency, staying abreast of technology changes and providing support for business continuity and disaster recovery.

54% of US SMBs and 68% of Europe SMBs say that managed services help improve bottom-line, contribute to profitability and reduce costs. On the flip side, 46% and 32% respectively state that they view and have experienced managed services as a technology contributing to growth and revenue. A more detailed look at the data underlying this summary analysis illustrates the many benefits that SMBs obtain from managed services (and MSPs).

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Does channel partner sales cycle vary by cloud delivery and positioning?

Data from Techaisle’s study channel partners (research analysis documented in Techaisle’s series of reports either delivered individually or as Channel Partner Research Annual subscription service) tell fascinating stories. Excerpt from the specific study of 650 US channel partners selling managed services, based on Techaisle’s database of over 250,000 partners, shows that the sales cycle length varies not only by line of business, but also by expertise levels:

  • Cloud provider channel, on average takes 2 weeks longer in its sales cycle as a cloud provider channel
  • Systems Integrators’ average sales cycle is ~1.5X of VARs because of complexity of SI’s engagement with an SMB. VARs, are often selling products into existing accounts, have relatively short sales cycles, while SIs, who are positioning complex solutions, have longer sales cycles than other channel businesses
  • Even a consultant who is usually familiar to an SMB organization has to prove that they are the right partner and it involves building a plan and showcasing why their advice and solution would be ideal for SMBs

More fascinating are the four charts below.

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