Revolutionizing the Channel: A Journey of Transformation

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The IT channel globally, and in the MENA region, continues to evolve at an accelerating pace. This is being driven by technological change, end user and consumer demand, and changing supply chain needs.

However, among the greatest drivers of channel change is the combination of pressures from budget, talent, and the need for sustainability. Customers and channel partners are looking for more complete offerings from the businesses they work with, to help them cope with these combined challenges.

Strategic partners

One of the key changes that is transforming the channel is that partners are no longer looked upon as merely hardware suppliers. The trend towards being a technical and strategic partner has been seen for some time, but now it is manifesting in an ever more complete offering.

Partners are being asked for, and are offering, hardware, software, services, solutions and now also smart devices. From smart UPS to handhelds for accessing the likes of advanced data center infrastructure management (DCIM), users are demanding more from partners and providers to make procurement, deployment, and management easier, more secure, and more compliant. This has been characterized as customer demand for outcomes, not technology.

Efficiency demand

Amid this more complete offering from partners and service providers, end users are demanding that the entire offering of technology stack and wrap-around services, perform to the highest efficiency standards.

This is partly due to the need for cost control, as energy prices have remained stubbornly high, but also as a means of contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With the focus on common reporting frameworks and science-based metrics, this efficiency drive is seen as a major contributor to overall sustainability efforts.

We have made major strides in providing extensive information on our equipment, such as Product Environmental Profiles, and equipment efficiency calculators, to allow channel partners to guide customers in choosing the most efficient solutions.

Similarly, the Green Premium program provides important insights for partners on cleaner, greener products, enabling them to have more informed, in-depth sustainability conversations with their customers. There are also programs to allow partners to guide customers in better equipment lifecycle management, applying circular economy principles.

Cyber and physical security

As data gathering and analytics have developed rapidly, with DCIM systems providing ever greater transparency and orchestration for infrastructure, it is also delivering new opportunities to allow channel partners to improve cyber security for customers.

With the ability to span hybrid environments of core, on-premises deployments, hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge computing deployments, the data reach of the latest generation of DCIM, such as Ecostruxure IT, is being leveraged to provide greater cyber security as well as physical security. From device location to network segmentation, visibility and data are being used to support approaches to whole organization initiatives, such as the Zero Trust Model (ZTM).

Visibility and support

The same visibility and reach are also critical in knowing what assets are present, their status, and operational efficiency. This contributes greatly to measuring emissions and enabling Scope 3 evaluations.

As more and more organizations step up their efforts for sustainability and to be responsible citizens within their respective ecosystems and supply chains, they are being called upon for ever greater data and detail.

As more and more players in the channel make the transition from value-added reseller (VAR) to become managed service providers (MSP), it is vital to be able to manage and report on emissions at the same level as other participants. MSPs can take this capability and help customers better understand their own requirements to meet Scope 3 emissions reporting requirements.

Enabling circular progression

The sustainability drive has forced the whole IT channel to consider entire equipment lifecycles, with more consideration for repurposing, re-use, and recycling.

Circular practices are becoming more prevalent and require major changes for full integration into sustainability strategies. From the start, design time considerations are ensuring that better end-of-life outcomes are assured. This is something we have long experience in, as in 2018, our circularity initiatives helped avoid the consumption of 40,000 tons of primary resources and reduced customers’ CO2 emissions by 30 million tons, primarily through the renovation of existing equipment (buildings, industry, infrastructure).

We have further ambitious targets to double the amount of recycled plastics in our products by 2025, and by 2030, 100% of the electricity for our sites will come from renewable sources (up from 30% in 2021), 100% of the waste will be reused and all packaging will be from recycled or certified sources. All of these efforts benefit our channel partners, distributors and customers in achieving their own sustainability ambitions, as well as increasing their own knowledge.

Education and resources

Simply keeping pace with technological change has always been a challenge, but now more than ever with the sheer pace of change. Easily accessible, and easy to consume resources to get people up to speed quickly are vital in any technology ecosystem. At Schneider Electric, we believe in constant upskilling and growth, and so offer innovative training services and educational programs for maintenance teams, partners, and operational personnel.

For a more formal resource, the Schneider Electric University provides on-demand availability of courseware covering career-relevant certifications. Users can tailor course selections or choose targeted learning paths by topic, including data centers, energy and infrastructure, industry, healthcare, and buildings and residential. There are two certification opportunities, through either Data Center Certified Associate (DCCA) or Professional Energy Manager (PEM).

In our experience, lifelong learning pathways, supported by professional resources and programs, allow professionals to develop their personal capabilities, ensuring great value to the business and personal fulfilment that, in turn, fosters greater talent retention.

Transforming the channel

The rapidly changing needs of customers and consumers are driving market change in many regions. When the combined pressures of budgets, talent and sustainability are added to these, the challenge multiplies.

Those at the forefront recognize that more complete offerings, from infrastructure down to devices, with comprehensive service offerings, and the benefit of deep sustainability expertise, will help transform the channel. With partners fully supported in delivering outcomes, not technology, the whole ecosystem can take advantage of change with greater value, deeper cooperation, and shared sustainability goals.

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