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Crunching the numbers will be key for channel customers in 2022

As organisations under pressure look to data-driven insights to maximise resources and sustainability, the channel must respond

business finance

If you're not already up to your elbows in data analytics and Big Data as well as sustainability, 2022 could mark the beginning of your end as a leading channel tech provider. After all, seeds sown over the last few years from global supply chain disruptions to the pandemic and Brexit are pushing up costs. 

Strategies that tackle these issues, even peripherally, will bear more fruit from next year – which means an increased focus on figuring out how to make sense of data quickly to save resources, drive sustainability, or grow. 

Data management tools will come increasingly to the fore to help organisations manage supply chain risk, with businesses prioritising goals that enhance business and environmental sustainability, including targeting and reducing waste wherever possible.

With analysts continuing to predict persistent supply chain disruptions, including semiconductor shortages, the pressures seen in 2021 won't actually vanish any time soon. 

Further disruption continues digital drive 

In 2022, more clients will seek to digitally transform their systems, processes and infrastructures as costs rise across the board. Boots on the ground for many organisations, from hospitality to the NHS, too, will become harder to find when needed. 

SolarWinds notes many organisations will look to revisit cloud investments and best practice, partly as a result of pandemic pressures to modernise and accelerate digital transformations, and partly looking to control cloud costs. Granular approaches to IT management will involve data and analytics solutions that can streamline processes, enhance visibility, improve overall user experience, or eliminate silos and bottlenecks. 

"The explosion in data available to a company has made the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) a critical competitive advantage, but the talent and resources required to build solutions in-house is still prohibitive," confirms SolarWinds 'head geek' Sascha Giese.

Customers will need help to locate and secure potential for savings and gains across their supply chains as well as internally, in hopes of streamlining and innovating across increasingly hybrid systems, processes and procedures.

The hardware channel, too, must continue to help customers source the kit they need on time; finding suitable alternatives at pace when required, adapting on-demand and keeping the economic engines running. Greater visibility and agility must also be achieved – without blowing budgets on inventory or redundancy strategies.

Fewer than half of supply chain companies in 2021 fully understood the location risks and other key risks faced by their tier-one suppliers, let alone third-tier channel partners, according to McKinsey.

Organisations need to separate themselves from "locked-in supply relationships built up in the heyday of just-in-time delivery"; they're struggling to relocalise, whether regionally or nearshore, and as inventories build, costs and vulnerabilities will continue to rise.

"Companies have only partly addressed the weaknesses in global supply chains exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. In the face of new challenges, finishing the job is even more urgent," the consultancy firm adds.

The channel's approach to 2022 could maximise chances to bounce back and recoup revenues at pace, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in December revising GDP growth forecasts further downwards to 5.1% for full-year 2022 and 3% for 2023.

Tony Danker, CBI director-general, says economic headwinds – including rising costs of living – threaten the UK's recovery and economic prospects longer term. Capital expenditure, for instance, is likely to fall from mid-2023 as the super-deduction ends and corporation taxes rise.

"I know from speaking with firms of all sizes that they have an ambitious investment mindset, and are anxious to implement growth plans. But while intentions have thawed, we’re coming up to a cliff-edge in 2023," Danker says.

"Investment in technology and skills are among the most important steps firms can take now that will power productivity growth."

Business investment could rise briefly above its pre-pandemic level at some point in 2022 before falling again from mid-2023 – but output per worker is forecast to remain 17% below pre-2008 trends through 2023, and exports won't improve the picture much, the CBI believes.

Do more – and do it better

Productivity solutions across entire supply chains – especially if they help mitigate risk and make businesses more sustainable – could be key to channel sales across the next year or two, and perhaps longer. 

This includes tackling carbon-equivalent emissions and e-waste, particularly in the face of increased legislation and government mandate as 2025, 2030 and 2050 targets loom larger. Trusted channel partners that offer or build solutions that enable organisations to collect, process and analyse data to reduce pressures of all kinds in a cost-effective way will be in pole position to extend their lead in 2022,  alongside those that can assist organisations with examining, improving and automating the tools they already have.

Competitive pressures will rise. Analysys Mason, for instance, has predicted that emerging areas of services provision, especially around the internet of things (IoT) and edge computing, will be increasingly contested, with mobile network operators (MNOs), for example, teaming up with public cloud and jostling elbows with IT-channel cloud services providers. 

For channel players that get it right, however, the rewards can be significant. Organisations in 2021 were more in need of trusted partners than ever, which bodes well for savvy product, solution and service providers with solid strategies next year. 

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