3 Trends in Enterprise Technology Spending Impacting Partner Ecosystems

Fiona O'Connor

Senior Content Marketing Manager

enterprise technology spendingRecently executed research by Enterprise Strategy Group™ (ESG) surveyed 700 IT decision makers to better understand where IT buyers plan to invest in 2022 and 500 partners to learn how their businesses are evolving. To share these insights and to hear how partner executives are responding, Kevin Rhone, ESG Channel Acceleration Practice Director, spoke with partner executives Craig Halliwell (Red Canary), Jean-David Lehmann (Palo Alto Networks) and Louise McEvoy (Trend Micro). Here are a few highlights from their discussion.

As enterprise technology spending increases, attention on Security

The enterprise technology spending rebound will continue as organizations look to accelerate digital transformation – that’s the key trend percolating throughout Enterprise Strategy Group’s 2022 Technology Spending Intentions Survey. Importantly, data and operations security stands out as the number one priority for most tech decision makers. Ransomware attacks are of particular concern, with 46% of respondents identifying ransomware readiness as one of their top five business priorities.

For their part, technology partnership teams are working to quickly adapt to spending growth, both in terms of the services mix they provide and how they bring those offerings to market.

“[our strategy] has very quickly evolved from a traditional channel model [where there’s a value-added reseller] to now you’re a services partner and you’re securing X amount of data in the cloud – you’ve got all these different services, platforms, you’re now an AWS-certified premier partner or as your co-seller, you’ve got GCP [Google Cloud Platform], you now have to build these skills that you may not have even had two years ago,” says Louise McEvoy of Trend Micro. “So, my strategy is no longer as much of a traditional reseller as it is: where are your new skills in [both] this traditional landscape and around these new types of services.”

Shifting towards long-term, services-led strategies

In another Rhone-referenced report, IT Partner Research: Security Services Trends at MSPs, Enterprise Strategy Group spoke with partners involved in managed security or managed services practices. When asked about their services today vs. planning for the future, responses illustrated a trend towards more complex and higher value services and an evolving focus on providing longer-term customer value.

“… pre-COVID, having security products in each of the major categories was good enough. What’s happened now is that companies have realized that product is good, but you need people who are reviewing these [security] alerts and looking at them and prioritizing and that’s where the drive and demand for services comes in,” says Red Canary’s Craig Halliwell. “So, organizations are saying, ‘Do we have the people on staff to do that?’ If not, that’s where the channel opportunity comes in, whether it’s channel partner, MSP, MVR provider or others.”

In alignment with vendors and partners evolving their strategies towards a long-term view, they’re also shifting to a more services-led stance to better deliver on customer needs. In the same report, partners said that offering security services allows them to have more and better initial conversations with prospects and it presents them more cross-sell and upsell opportunities than they’ve had before.

“…for us culturally as a vendor we [sold] for many years on the strength of the product, throwing features at the problem. And we’ve really seen a switch now on the way we are going to market and the success by having service-led engagement,” says Jean-David Lehmann of Palo Alto Networks. “… there’s a clear transition that we see – a clear dominance of service-led – and demand for the vendors to reinvent themselves in the relationship with their partners … to think not only product-first, but to think about how can I translate the features and capabilities of my product into services that will help my partner deliver better service to differentiate themselves.”

Taking on a new role in supporting partners

With these patterns taking shape, there’s both a clear need and a real opportunity for vendors that are building their abilities to provide better enablement, training and engagement support to their partners. These program improvements will in turn help partners succeed and strengthen their customer relationships.

“I think that helping them to see the opportunity that’s there and helping them to get trained on whatever it is. And I think because things are changing so quickly – and we’re at the forefront of these changes – really is helping to educate them: this is what we’re seeing and what the customer challenges are,” says Louise McEvoy. “And now there’s an opportunity to get enabled, certified, trained on that particular part of the business.”

“I think the next level is to look at what’s the security stack, that we as a partner sell and [consider] what are we doing in terms of services to wrap it all together. There are a handful of end-point and network [solutions] out there – add in identity – [and] that’s a great combination of customizations,” explains Craig Halliwell. “What vendors like us can do to help out is specializations and certifications. I’ll give you a recent example: the recent XMBR specialization that Palo Alto has that Red Canary is going to be joining, is a great way to kind of formalize a specialization like this for a partner community.”

“… in the past, when we were in the ‘classic’ mode, you had your own products and certification, enablement and training and that was enough. Now with all those changes, you also need to be able to very quickly adjust your programs and ensure that you will be providing a framework to your partners that will allow them to develop faster, have more independence as well in promoting their service,” says Jean-David Lehmann. “It’s a different mindset – it’s a switch in terms of mentality for some classic channel managers who need to adjust the way they work to become more of a consultant.”

As the data and the discussion around it during this session made very apparent, the changing ways in which enterprise IT decision makers buy and consume technology and particularly companies’ evolving security concerns offer many opportunities for vendors and their partners to collaborate on delivering better to the market. Those partnership models and programs that are able to adapt and embrace these changes quickly will doubtless accelerate. To learn more about products and services to support your own partner-oriented efforts, our Jason James is here to help. And for more insights like these from practitioner partner marketing experts, stay tuned for the next episode of Winning Channel Strategies.

b2b technology buyers, Channel and Alliance Partnerships, channel marketing strategies

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