Whatever the outcome of developments to combat COVID-19, there can be no doubt that we will see increased remote working as a matter of policy in the enterprise, and personal choice by many individuals. A recent Gartner survey showed that many of their clients will make some remote working permanent or at least a feature of their employee contracts and recruitment. A further Gartner CFO survey revealed that 74% of respondents intended to shift some employees to remote work on a permanent basis.

As this becomes established as the way of working, it’s our role in the channel to help organisations move beyond their initial ‘crisis’ response to make it the normal, sustainable and scalable mode of operation, with consequent technology investment and upskilling in areas such as cloud applications, endpoint security, collaboration and underlying network performance and flexibility.

Adapting to a software-driven world

There will be a corresponding need to offer commercial models of procurement and consumption that meet the needs of organisations in the increased use of digital channels. B2C and B2B buyers have switched to digital channels, including online shopping, telemedicine and e-learning, and are likely to continue to research, buy, learn and share their experiences in a digital way.

There is also likely to be increased interest in automation, particularly in regard to data and knowledge-based processes, not just physical processes such as manufacturing and logistics. Enterprises worried about future crises will now turn to automation to improve their agility and business continuity, and, in the long term, to reduce costs. This in turn will drive demand for both centralised cloud capabilities as well as increased processing capability at the edge of the network in a variety of vertical market adaptations employing video, remote sensors and autonomous equipment.

Resilience and agility built in

2021 will see a demand for increased resilience in supply chains as well as their redesign, as the pandemic has revealed serious risks and dependencies in critical supply networks. Many political leaders’ stated intent to “bring supply chains home” will impact the locations of operations and supply-chain design. In the IT sector, the increased reliance on software-based solutions will see some reduction in the need for physical distribution, so the value that we create here at Westcon-Comstor will derive from new sources such as solutions lifecycle management and hybrid solution design, supply and support. At the same time, the acceleration of IoT and edge technologies will create new opportunities for the channel in logistics, sparing and asset management.

Digital first and data-driven marketing

Without question, we are on an accelerated path to a ‘digital first’ and ‘data driven’ marketing model and organisation at Westcon-Comstor. In 2021 you will see the application of digital marketing technology in nearly every facet of our operations internationally. This will span upgraded marketing automation, social-media management and analytics, virtual events, voice of the partner programmes, automated translation, and analytics tools for planning and measuring our activity. When you factor in the evolution of our partner-facing platforms during FY22, the coming year promises to bring significant change and more value to our marketing.

We are future-ready

Here at Westcon-Comstor we are well prepared to meet the challenges. Our current strategic priorities are focused on developing capabilities that partners and vendors will value and trust as they face these challenges too. Ultimately, whether in our conversations and interactions with each other or with the outside world, we are all ‘marketeers’ for Westcon-Comstor.

To learn more about the biggest changes impacting the channel in 2021, download our industry trends eBook.