The so-called new normal calls for businesses to craft an adaptive strategy to deal with the unpredictable and bolster business resiliency.
Industry executives and recent research point to a way channel partners can support customers of all sizes: help customers adopt digital technologies such as automation and AI to respond to COVID-19 challenges and future potential disruptions.
Brian Hopkins, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said the "domino effects of systemic risk" require organizations to change how they invest in technology. Going forward, he said, businesses must adapt to a range of disruptive forces, from pandemics to climate change.
"In the 2020s, you are going to see more and more of these events happen," Hopkins said, speaking at a Rackspace Technology virtual summit.
Digital technologies will play a pivotal role in helping organizations deploy an adaptive strategy. The 2020 Small Business Digital Maturity Study, a Cisco-commissioned report published Sept. 9, found the most advanced digital adopters are also the best equipped to deal with changing business conditions. IDC, which conducted the study on Cisco's behalf, grouped small businesses according to four stages of digital maturity, from "digital indifferent" to "digital native."
"When it comes to recovery during and after the pandemic, small businesses that are in the more mature Stage Three and Four have the highest ratio of recovering, are able to respond faster to changing market conditions, and are growing their revenue at higher rates," according to Cisco.
The report rated cloud solutions, security and AI/analytics as the top technology investment priorities in the next 18 months for small businesses in the digital native category.
Hopkins, meanwhile, pointed to AI and automation as among the salient technologies amid the pandemic. He said "intelligent automation" -- a blend of robotic process automation, pragmatic AI, digital process automation and related technologies -- will play a role in making organizations more resilient while also shaping the future of work. Automation, as it becomes more AI-driven, will require middle managers to focus on the training and management of bots as well as humans, he noted.
Partner companies have been teaming up with RPA vendors for years and also build their own automation platforms. Accenture this week launched the latest version of its intelligence automation platform, MyWizard. The platform aims to help customers create and deploy automation strategies.
Rajendra Prasad, global automation lead at Accenture, said MyWizard covers the automation spectrum from RPA and AI.
Additionally, businesses and partners must adjust to changing customer behavior, which is also trending toward digital technology.
"We've shifted more to digital," said Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Speaking at the Rackspace summit, Bova cited the importance of digital apps and the rise of digital communication in the form of Zoom calls and virtual meetings.
"This digital imperative is moving fast and requiring businesses, CIOs, IT managers, vendors, channel partners, systems integrators -- the entire community and ecosystem -- to think about digital in new ways."
Twilio taps Deloitte Digital, expands channel ecosystem
Twilio, a cloud communications platform provider based in San Francisco, unveiled a partnership with Deloitte Digital, underscoring the company's work with systems integrators and increasing focus on enterprise business.
Deloitte Digital joins the Twilio Build partner program as a premier Global Systems Integrator. The integrator will offer Twilio Flex for contact centers as well as Twilio's communications APIs and platform services. Twilio has been recruiting systems integrator partners since launching Build in 2018 and now has more than 300 certified consulting partners in that program.
Twilio chief customer officer Glenn Weinstein oversees the professional services and systems integrator ecosystem at the company. He was previously CIO at Appirio, a cloud services firm with a specialization in Salesforce.
"Twilio will be a more channel-focused company moving forward," Weinstein said.
The channel strategy dovetails with Twilio's enterprise interest. Twilio previously cultivated relationships with ISVs that embedded its technology in their products and worked with digital ecosystem companies such as rideshares. And while the company continues to work with technology partners and on-demand services providers, it's looking to make a broader push into the enterprise with the help of partners.
Weinstein said he believes the best way to approach enterprise customers is to "be partner-friendly and have our solutions available through partners who are trained and capable of delivering Twilio solutions." The addition of partners like Deloitte Digital reinforces the company's relevance to the enterprise market, he added.
Twilio's relationship with Deloitte Digital also signals an expansion of integrator use cases. Integrators previously anchored their Twilio activities around contact centers. The Build program now focuses on use cases across all industries, Weinstein said.
"The broader focus on digital communications generally, not just in contact centers, is a big change in our SI ecosystem," he noted.
Deloitte Digital, for example, will "go beyond the contact center" to pursue various types of enterprise digital transformation initiatives, Weinstein said.
As for industries, Deloitte Digital and Twilio will initially focus on financial services, healthcare and public sector. Weinstein expects the relationship to eventually expand to all of Deloitte Digital's industry sectors.
In addition, Twilio will work with Deloitte Digital to build its communications APIs into its intellectual property. The companies will collaborate to expand Deloitte Digital's ConvergeHealth Connect platform, a patient engagement offering that uses Salesforce Health Cloud.
- Accenture will invest in Black technology startup founders and entrepreneurs through an initiative unveiled this week. Accenture's Black Founders Development Program aims to provide "direct access to venture capital" as well as corporate mentorship, according to Accenture. Accenture Ventures will create a Black Founders Development Fund for investments in early-stage Black-founded startups. The fund will initially focus on North America, with a global expansion to follow at a later date.
- Partner experience, a concept parallel to customer experience, has begun to surface amid a shift in the balance of power between channel partners and vendors, according to a CompTIA research brief.
- Matrix Integration, an IT infrastructure partner in Indiana and Kentucky, is partnering with Cisco to implement "classroom of the future" offerings for K-12 schools. In one case, the companies worked with Mooresville Schools in Indiana to deploy a unified and collaborative e-learning offering that uses WebEx and TelePresence endpoints.
- Tintri, a storage vendor based in Santa Clara, Calif., launched a partner program that provides deal registration, access to marketing qualified leads, marketing resources, training and support.
- Neurala, a vision AI software company based in Boston, rolled out a partner program for integrators and distributors. Neurala's VIA Authorized Partner program focuses on partners that work with manufacturers to adopt automation and deploy Industry 4.0 initiatives.
- Aircall, a cloud-based voice platform company based in New York, inked a strategic partnership with Telarus, a technology services distributor. The companies will create an automated approach for setting up call centers.
- Moogsoft, an AIOps vendor based in San Francisco, entered a partnership with Orange Business Services. The relationship, based in the Americas region, focuses on streamlining incident management and preventing outages among Orange enterprise customers, according to Moogsoft.
- Cybersecurity company BullGuard released a VPN offering for resellers. BullGuard VPN is available in one-, two- and three-year license plans through its Advantage Partner Program, the company said.
- Channel partners have a new option for delivering Cameyo's Digital Workspace offering, which is now available on Microsoft Azure. Cameyo's technology was previously only available on Google Cloud Platform.
- Cloud email security vendor Area 1 Security appointed Steve Pataky as its chief revenue officer. Pataky's responsibilities will include overseeing Area 1's initiatives to grow its channel of solution providers, distributors, MSSPs, consultants and technology alliances, the company said.
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