Why collaboration is critical to the resilience of the channel.

It has always been clear that collaboration is one of the ways that the channel industry differs – and stands out – from others, and the current crisis has illustrated this more clearly than ever. Working closely together is the only way channel companies will be able to persevere and come out of the other side of this pandemic in the best possible health.

Indeed, as many companies have hit problems with cash flow, leading in many cases to staff being furloughed or even made redundant, we expect to see more partnerships being formed than ever before. Companies will need to rely on the skills and expertise that partners can bring to the table, to continue to satisfy and support their customers.

Now that our ways of working are continuously changing, we must appreciate how important it is that we adapt and remain relevant. Redefining our vision and exploring new ways of engagement while we adjust to the ‘new normal’ will ensure we’re better prepared for the next unforeseen challenges that lie ahead. The pandemic may have been an unparalleled disruptive force, but organisations who are willing to innovate can use this as an opportunity to build resilience. Although this cannot be achievable overnight, there is no better time to start than now.

Resilience starts with employees

To create a resilient channel, collaboration must start within. Businesses will need to transform their model to adapt to the current environment – and it must start at the top. Management teams have an important role: to reflect values and behaviours within an organisation. Remaining transparent and consistent with employees by communicating key results or key events within the company can have a positive impact on staff mentality and culture.

Businesses can also look at identifying ambassadors to empower resilience, who can provide other employees with training and tools to encourage others to be a part of the transformation. This can ensure that between the business and the employees, there is constant communication about what it means to be resilient in the channel. This can be through internal communication channels such as Zoom, Teams or webinars.

It is also essential to continue to celebrate and reward employees’ performance during the pandemic. If companies identify and recognise hard work, this will increase motivation and productivity. It encourages high-quality services and support, for example, leading to a stronger business. This will also encourage other teams to be more efficient in their role, again guaranteeing a more resilient channel.

Take advantage of the skills an outside source can offer

One positive effect of the current pandemic crises has been a renewed commitment to business partnerships.

We may still be coming to grips with the new normal, but the one constant is that we must continue to work together and strengthen our networks across organisations as we move towards recovery and prepare for what might happen in the immediate future.

When the pandemic hit and lockdown began, both professional and community networks were forced to adopt digital methods of communicating and working with immediate effect. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp groups and Microsoft Teams rapidly became the de facto ways of working, ensuring that we stayed connected, which in turn led to the widespread acceptance and successful normalisation of home working.

The urgent necessity caused by the crisis forced many of us to get over our misgivings about digital and swiftly removed many of the old obstacles in place previously for many businesses. Whether these were rules set by IT departments, cultural aversion or just the difficulty of getting everyone on board, the need to satisfy customers in a time of severe uncertainty surpassed everything. And, as a result, it’s now much easier to connect to colleagues across partner organisations, and to communicate with them quickly and effectively just as you would have done in an office environment. 

Taking collaboration forward

The pandemic has taught us that not everything goes to plan. However, we must not lose sight of the long-term plans which may come in use sooner than expected. Many organisations have focused on shorter goals in terms of the innovation effort, therefore the longer leads are most likely to have been forgotten. If companies prioritise future goals, this will give them a head start against competitors, making them more agile and resilient.

Remote working is here to stay, and it has never been as important to take advantage of technology. Businesses within the channel must invest time and resources into available software to communicate effectively. Using these collaborative tools will allow companies to share information, whether this is internally or externally, to selected audiences. It will also enable employees to create groups and share files, therefore speeding up the communication process.

Freeing up human resources and providing employees with the tools to develop solutions, fix problems, and measure results quickly and accurately will create a stronger, more resilient channel company. Additionally, this also allows team members to develop their skills so that they are more likely to identify failure, celebrate success and create positive business outcomes faster.

To be resilient in the channel, collaboration is key. Businesses must be agile, flexible and certainly open to change. By establishing and strengthening innovative strategies, those in the channel will be able to react effectively to disruption.

Shaun Lynn is CEO of Agilitas IT Solutions. 

A well respected, high performing visionary, Shaun has built up a first class reputation amongst his peers as a leader in his field. Having previously served a successful period with many of the industry’s leading OEM’s, his knowledge of the market and ability to identify opportunities is one of the major driving forces behind Agilitas’ success to date.

Agilitas is the leading European innovator of customer driven inventory-as-a-service solutions. Agilitas manages spare parts inventories across server, storage and networking technologies and delivers complementing technical services to customers across 26 countries and to over 12,500 locations throughout Europe. These services include cloud services, technical training, technical support, product repair and specialist engineering resource.  Agilitas IT Solutions Limited is based in Nottingham, UK.

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