INSIGHT

How channel partners can respond to continued disruption

By Dale Parkinson, Sales Director - Wholesale, Virgin Media Business

February 2022

We have entered a new era.

We have adapted and transformed amid constant change and uncertainty.

But the climate is still uncertain. More change could come.

And businesses continue to face new, unpredictable challenges.

How can they adapt their operating models to serve customers flexibly and effectively? How can they deliver hybrid working in the right way, strengthening their culture, while giving employees freedom and protecting them from cyber-attacks?

How can leaders shift from thinking purely about survival towards recovery and growth?

These are big questions. And the answers lie in bold, agile decisions.

But effective decision making is dependent on an organisation’s infrastructure. 57% told us that their infrastructure isn’t agile enough - not giving them the ability to flex up and down according to demand.

This is where the channel has a critical role to play. There are two major steps it can take to give UK PLC the tools it needs to respond to continued disruption and rebound:

  1. Offer flexible connectivity technologies that can meet customer and hybrid working demands
  2. Provide greater flexibility within business models

If the right decisions are taken and digital investment encouraged, channel partners can play an instrumental role in adding £232bn to the economy by 2040, according to our study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

1. Offering flexible networking technologies

The pandemic has changed the way businesses serve their customers.

They had to adapt to a rapid rise in online shopping. Over 2 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services virtually in 2021. That’s an increase from 1.6 billion in 2016, according to Statista.

Businesses accelerated digital transformation projects, achieving progress in months that would have taken many years before the crisis hit, according to McKinsey.

And as we look from survival and stabilisation towards the recovery, digitisation – and the connectivity it rests upon – will only become more important.

Organisations will need to strengthen their networking services and infrastructure to deal with ever-increasing bandwidth requirements.

This will also be critical to supporting hybrid working patterns over the long term.

The last eighteen months have given employees more freedom to shape their daily routines and spend more time with families.

84% of businesses are planning on having a hybrid workforce according to a new study. And only 16% are expecting employees to return to the office full-time.

But for hybrid working to function effectively, employees need to communicate instantly and seamlessly. An organisation’s IT stack is only as reliable as the connectivity underneath it. Network interruptions could lead to siloed employees, inefficiencies and unhappy customers.

But what are the technologies that could help?

National High Capacity Services, Dark Fibre and dedicated Ethernet technologies all provide businesses with the lightning-fast speeds and flexibility needed to meet the demands of new working patterns:

  • National High Capacity Services offer high performance and huge bandwidths of up to 100Gbps, drawing on Dense Wave Division Multiplexing technology to boost capacity. This means they’re well-suited to connecting large organisations’ multiple sites together even if they’re miles apart. Read more in our white paper here
  • Dark Fibre uses optical fibre to pass information between two points. The fibre is ‘dark’ when no light pulses are being sent, so electronics are added to light up the fibre and determine bandwidth and service capability. Dark Fibre is often used to build Core and Aggregation networks for mobile network operators or to build out Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) for public sector agencies
  • Ethernet services are provided using a dedicated fibre between two points (with no distance limitations if using our National Ethernet service). These services are typically used for last mile access, connecting an end customer to a Network Aggregator or a partner’s own network infrastructure. Through our national network, we offer market-leading 10g Ethernet services, giving UK PLC the lightning speeds needed to bounce back from Covid-19
  • Finally, channel partners can support customers with a Dedicated Internet Access offering. This provides connectivity to the Internet, using an Ethernet leased line connection. Because the connection isn’t shared, it gives partners and their customers guaranteed speed and reliability. It’s suitable for organisations where fast and reliable internet access is of upmost importance and where broadband isn’t appropriate
 
 

And the demand for these connectivity services is growing.

94% of senior IT managers recognise that investing in digital services supporting flexible and agile operations will help them bounce back from Covid-19, according to our recent research.

So, to seize on the opportunity, channel partners should act more strategically and point customers towards advanced connectivity solutions that can make a difference.

But it’s not just about the technology itself.

It’s also about offering truly disruptive business models which set end-customers up to behave in more agile ways.

2. Providing greater flexibility within business models

For too long, business models have been too restrictive in the channel community.

They’ve trapped organisations in rigid, long-term contracts which are too cumbersome or too costly to amend.

And they’ve stopped them trying to take risks and pursue growth opportunities.

A third of senior IT managers say renegotiating fixed-term contracts is a barrier to operating more flexibly and making bold decisions over the next 18-24 months and 44% are paying for services they don’t need.

And renegotiating contracts is taking a lot of time. IT managers are spending 6 days on this process every year. That’s time that could be spent elsewhere.

This threatens organisations’ ability to recover from Covid-19. “Continuous business model innovation with agile, open collaboration” will define success after the pandemic, according to EY.

It’s no wonder then, that businesses now expect to be able to amend, scale or even cancel parts of their services and to be billed responsively.

And this attitude towards licence subscription models has become more prevalent since the pandemic, providing flexibility, resilience, and cost-effectiveness.

It’s why at Virgin Media O2 Business we’re transforming the way we do business with UltimateFlex.

We’re offering anytime cancellation as standard for managed Ethernet, Internet Access and High Capacity Services.

And our partners can enjoy the confidence that they are always receiving the best price for life because pricing is automatically adjusted in-line with the latest acquisition rates. Meaning they’ll never end up paying more than the market rate.

This will give the channel the firepower and freedom it needs to help customers take bolder decisions and respond effectively and more swiftly to continued disruption.

Agility and the rebound

Overcoming continued disruption and turning it into an advantage is about agility.

The businesses that win after Covid-19 will be those that take bold – even radical – decisions to adapt and grow.

Channel partners have a pivotal role to play in encouraging this, drawing on offers like UltimateFlex to pass on the benefits of greater flexibility and agility to their customers.

Watch our Big Switch Up event to find out more about how we’re leading a revolution.

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