UK Channel Partners: Positive on Growth, Conflicted about Hybrid Work, Missing Face-to-Face Interaction
A recent UK partners survey conducted by Nuvias points to continued growth in 2022 whilst revealing some of the remaining challenges partners are grappling with.
• 62% expect to grow by 2-10%, 35% by over 10% in 2022
• 78% rate cybersecurity as their biggest growth prospect
• 70% found remote working beneficial
• 40% said remote working made running their business harder
Woking, UK: 05/04/22 – The Nuvias Group, the European high-value distributor, shared findings from its UK research, revealing partners’ challenges and opportunities for 2022 and their pain points over the past year.
Growth Trends and Expectations
Partners are expecting the growth trend we witnessed in 2021 to continue in 2022, with 75% of respondents reporting growth between 2% and 10% in 2021 and 62% expecting the same in 2022.
Last year’s optimism was tempered by reality, with a quarter of those anticipating growth over 10% last year, achieving it. Growth expectations seem to be normalising, indicating a more balanced and grounded outlook this year. A more moderate 35% anticipate growth of over 10%, compared with 40% last year, perhaps due to the long-term ramifications of the pandemic becoming clear, such as the global chip shortage.
Technologies in Demand for 2022
Cybersecurity is topping the charts, for the second year running, as the most promising area of growth, with 78% of respondents identifying it as the biggest opportunity, closely followed by cloud security at 56%.
Cybersecurity growth is likely to be incentivised by the introduction of new legislation to strengthen the UK’s resilience to cyberattacks – announced in January as part of the Government’s £2.6 billion national cyber strategy.
‘Network visibility’ emerges as a new rising category, with nearly three times as many mentions as last year (from 10% to 27%) – likely in connection with the host of rapidly extended networks supporting the mass adoption of hybrid working practices.
The shift to a different working model divided opinion, related as it is to deep-seated cultural aspect of channel business, with as many acknowledging the advantages as its challenges.
70% of respondents found remote working beneficial, 40% for productivity, 30% for strategic thinking. Conversely, 40% of partners pointed to hybrid working as something that made running their business harder. Amongst the negative factors mentioned were lack of supervision and longer working hours, with 22% mentioning the inability to see customers and colleagues in person as a source of frustration.
The divergence of opinions may reflect different generational and job role differences amongst the respondents. 25% of partners wished they switched to the new operating model earlier (25%), with all the supporting tools and processes needed.
2022 Challenges: Distributor’s Role
Organisations continue to look to distributors for sales support, but in 2022, many are expecting them to address challenges specific to the post-pandemic era.
Respondents indicated they value distributor support in marketing and lead generation activities (48%) – rising in importance in the era of hybrid work. Keeping the supply chain running smoothly is also high on the list (38%), perhaps no longer an item that can be taken for granted, due to the ongoing disruption.
2021 Pain Points
It is apparent from comparing 2021 and 2022 responses, just how difficult it was to predict the pandemic ramifications. COVID related challenges were selected as a disruptive element by just 13% in 2020, while that figure rose to 40% in 2022.
Adjusting to a new remote model is not a negligible challenge and, although disruption to the supply chain was expected, the extent of it – down to the semiconductor shortage – was difficult to anticipate.
Lee Driscoll, MD UK and VP South Europe, at the Nuvias Group, comments: “2021 was always going to be a challenging year with the global pandemic, but we pulled together and made the most of our joint opportunities. It’s fantastic to see there was still strong growth over the past year. We have seen customers demand for cybersecurity rise and we have strengthened our portfolio accordingly. It was not a surprise to see the rise of network visibility as a new top category, in view of the need to manage extended networks. We are fortunate to be working with vendors who are leading in this segment, such as Juniper and Riverbed.
Our priority is to support partners in sustaining their revenue stream and business model in a changing landscape, by adjusting to new customer needs and market conditions, providing service-based offerings and expertly designed solutions that protect business networks.”
Nuvias polled key reseller partners across the UK in Dec 2021 and January 2022. Respondents were predominantly in sales and technical roles within tech VARs, managed service providers, system integrators, and internet service providers. Most respondents were from SMBs, under 50 employees.