Change is the one thing to expect, even embrace in 2018.
The channel is aging. Some thought they would be retired by now. Unfortunately, circumstances have changed so retirement is pushed out. Revenue is declining. Ask any carrier or any agent.
I think we will see more M&A in the channel partner companies.
Master agencies face declining revenue alongside increased quotas. The vendors expect more from the agencies. More means added expenses for staff like back office, agent support and engineering (to enable bigger or complex sales).
We have seen mash-ups before – like TSX. I was surprised that there were not a few other mash-ups like this that create something of a smaller Agent Alliance umbrella.
It will be interesting to see how many partners merge or just sell out. It isn’t as lucrative or fun as it was when most partners started in the channel.
Some agencies are morphing to MSPs. Why? To fill the voids in tech talent that customers need. Some VARs became ISVs (software and integration shops).
What will agents do?
The last of the CLECs – the bastion of the agent – is shifting to managed services and cloud (UCaaS, Contact Center, SD-WAN, security). Agents HAVE to transition too!
All of this has one glaring hole: service delivery!
Service Delivery is Opportunity, where partners can make money. Project Management (PMPs), software integration, user training, network design, installation, monitoring and repair are all areas that partners can expand into.
We’ll see if any of them do in 2018.