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CompTIA: IT channel companies “cautiously optimistic”

Businesses predict positive revenue potential over the next two years from a variety of service offerings

man sitting on cloud in the sky with his arms in the air

IT channel businesses are “cautiously optimistic” as they refocus on growth opportunities in 2021 and beyond, according to the latest research from CompTIA.

The non-profit association, a voice and advocate for the IT industry and its workforce, has released its ‘International State of the Channel 2021' report, which surveyed 880 global IT channel professionals during the second quarter. 

It found that nine in 10 executives believe the channel maintains its relevance in the IT industry – but they were split when asked about its health. According to the report, 46% said it’s holding steady, while 44% said it is rapidly changing. 

"This latter attitude is most likely based on the expanding fabric of the channel, with new business models unleased by cloud computing, the ubiquity of consulting-only services and the emergence of non-traditional players as purveyors of technology products and services," explained Carolyn April, CompTIA’s senior director for industry analysis.

Asked about the steps they’re taking to maintain relevance, executives said consultative selling aligned with changing customer demographics and buying behaviours was a top priority. They are also looking to create a competitive differentiator, increase investments in marketing, as well as improve marketing efforts, the report found. 

Those surveyed predicted positive revenue potential over the next two years from a variety of service offerings. Cyber security topped the list, cited by 69% of respondents, followed by cloud services (68%), data analytics (68%), digital marketing services (66%), and emerging technologies (66%).

CompTIA also found that standard offerings such as antivirus, firewall and data backup protection are standard for most channel companies (53%) delivering cybersecurity services. However, 36% said they are only just beginning to formulate a cybersecurity strategy and portfolio, are behind schedule or not involved at all.

In terms of vendor-partner relationships, although channel companies’ satisfaction with their vendors remains high, it’s not as high as in the past. The report revealed a net 79% said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their vendors in the last two years.

This cautious optimism in the industry is mirrored by forecasts that tip global IT spending to top $5 trillion this year, based on the assumption that customer will resume their spending on IT products and services. 

However, executives acknowledge that some customers may still be reluctant to buy - including small businesses and industry sectors hit hardest by the pandemic such as hospitality and retail.

“Four in 10 executives express concern about the continuing impact of COVID-19 on customers' ability or willingness to invest in new technology solutions,” the CompTIA report revealed.

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