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The double-edged digital transformation sword

By , ITWeb
23 Jan 2020

The double-edged digital transformation sword

Digital transformation. Over the past few years, those two words have been hyped to the point of dizziness, sticking like glue to boardroom conversations and igniting tangential shifts in technology investment and digital innovation. It has also fundamentally changed the way in which the channel does business. The industry is facing numerous challenges that are influencing how it deals with digital, customer and the future.

Today, the biggest challenges impacting on the channel are the loss of skills, the move of revenue towards cloud investment, changing vendor strategies, and competition from companies such as AWS or online purchasing.

Digital transformation has become a double-edged sword that, on the one hand, makes most businesses and industries more efficient, but on the other hand, reduces demand for the traditional solutions provided by the channel.

That said, if the channel uses digital transformation correctly, it can enable efficiencies and improve capacities that can, in turn be used to expand into new areas of business and drive profits.

Digital transformation may be pulling the channel into uncharted waters, but it's also allowing for the opportunity to broad business reach and marketing capacity. There will always be a demand for technologies that support digitisation and this in itself is a chance for the channel to diversify and regroup.

Emergent technologies require a more skilled and focused approach and, for those companies that have existing skillsets and that are prepared to invest into skills, opportunities will start to open up at an increased rate.

Artificial intelligence (AI), robots and the Internet of Things (IOT) are rapidly losing the 'emergent' moniker as their uptake grows due to their capabilities and increased affordability.

These technologies offer the channel a solid revenue stream and growth opportunity, especially if they have the skills required to consult the customer and assist in the roll-out and ongoing support.

The balance will lie in the cost versus the return, both for the customer paying for the technology and the channel investing into the skills required to support and implement it. However, regardless of balance and of skillset, it has become critical for the channel to pay attention and find a pathway through the digital transformation landscape otherwise it will get left behind.

Digital transformation and emergent technology application and innovation isn't going to stop and slow down because the channel isn't ready to take part.

The channel can't control it, for good or ill, so it needs to pay attention or risk being made redundant.

It may sound as dramatic as the music at the end of a big reveal, but there's no walking away from the fact that technology isn't slowing down for anyone - even those that have leveraged it in the past.

Companies that are prepared to transition themselves will likely succeed, but this will require focus, skills retention and a shift towards more flexible business models.

While traditional business models will still offer some scope for growth, companies will need to become far more efficient as those margins will continue to decline.

The goal is to ensure that (a) company remains in a state of transition, capable of pivoting to meet technology change and industry demand.

By Rory Twort, Managing Executive, Axiz South Africa.

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