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Savvy, Sustainable and Secure: Channel Trends for 2019
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Savvy, Sustainable and Secure: Channel Trends for 2019 

Millennials are Now the IT Decision Makers Within Their Companies 

Whereas Generation Z is becoming a huge influence on the B2C technology front, Millennials are growing older, moving up within their organizations and gaining more influence in B2B purchasing decisions. In fact, 73 per cent of Millennials are involved in product and service purchasing decisions within their companies, and 34 per cent are the sole decision maker.

Millennial IT decision makers tend to buy differently than their older Boomer and Generation X counterparts. According to a study by Spiceworks, 26 per cent of Millennial respondents said the mission of the vendor must align with their own values, compared to only 19 per cent of Generation X and 13 per cent of Boomers. 

The implications for the channel are clear – yesterday’s B2B sales strategy will not work in 2019. As Millennials continue to gain clout in the workplace, channel sales strategies will need to evolve to keep pace.

Security Will Remain a Top Priority

In a landscape of increasingly complex and rampant cyber threats, security is simply table stakes. Brands cannot afford to let security slip, and if they do, a breach could result in serious damage to a business’ reputation and bottom line. A study by Centrify found that when a data breach is disclosed by a public company, there is an average five per cent drop in stock value and seven per cent loss in customers. 

Security measures will continue to be under threat as the onset of technologies like virtual assistants, VR-powered coworking spaces and mobile computing are added to the equation. While this can be good for productivity, computers that travel from the office to the home to the local coffee shop present new security concerns. Channel partners are uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges leveraging learnings garnered from the bring-your-own-device to work phenomenon. 

Sustainable Impact Will be Paramount

For customers who grew up reusing and recycling, sustainability is an ingrained value. According to a study by Deloitte, 46 per cent of Millennials are concerned with climate change and resource scarcity, but only 14 per cent believe their company is doing the most it can in terms of sustainability. As Canada’s Most Sustainable Technology company, this approach fuels our innovation. growth and strengthening our business for the long term. Simply put, having a sustainability strategy gives you a competitive edge. 

With more and more key decision-making roles being filled by Millennials, channel partners will need to focus on the procurement process by adding value during the RFP cycle. Sustainable procurement will no longer simply be a box that can be checked but a complex measure of value, ROI and efficiency.

Everything-As-A-Service Will Accelerate

One of the most significant shifts that will happen over the next year is the increasing implementation of Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS). XaaS will have a huge impact on security, innovation and cost savings within organizations. 

For many years, the biggest challenge for CIOs and IT decision makers was that they were spending most of their limited resources on responding to IT issues instead of implementing innovation and strategy. Today, when a company outsources device management to experts in a XaaS-model, IT professionals can become agents of change and innovation within their organizations giving them a competitive edge. 

With services, channel partners have a unique opportunity to not just sell technology but sell cost savings, freed-up time and peace-of-mind to customers.

3D Printing Will Disrupt Manufacturing

In the 3D printing space alone, the last year has seen more advances than the previous 20 years combined.On-demand printing can have a huge impact on the supply chain, but it will require a different way of thinking as 3D printing localizes operations and moves production closer to the point of sale. 

Given this trend, HP launched the HP Partner First 3D Printing Specialization program enabling solutions providers to act as trusted advisors and deliver 3D printing technology for customers around the world.Though not every partner will specialize in 3D, it’s important for channel partners to keep abreast of this burgeoning trend and educate themselves on the needs of the evolving distribution chain.

Omnichannel Strategies Will Evolve with Innovative Tech 

The simplicity and efficiency of online consumer sites have shaped expectations of what the B2B sales experience should be like, including interactions with manufacturers and distributors.

The Omnichannel experience connects how a customer experiences a brand across all channels whether it be an email from a sales rep or the company website. If done well, Omnichannel presents an opportunity to gather valuable data about customers that can be used to serve them better and grow market share. 

To stay competitive, the channel will not only need to use data-driven insights to bolster sales but also innovative technologies to create amazing experiences that engage. Now is the time for the channel to embrace technologies like augmented and virtual realities to solidify brand trust through relevancy and reinventing expectations. With revenue and loyalty at stake building a high-performing omnichannel strategy is essential to growing market share.

Technology, demographics and markets may change rapidly but one thing remains consistent – channel partners and technology vendors need to create deep, integrated partnerships. For the year ahead, as tremendous shifts continue to disrupt the channel, those relationships will be the bedrock on which channel partners build to position themselves for longevity in a market awash with change.

By Mary Ann Yule, President & CEO, HP Canada.

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