Three ways the channel can help end customers adopt emerging technologies

By Dale Parkinson, Sales Director, Virgin Media Business (Wholesale)

July 2021

Covid-19 has changed how end-customers think about technology.

66% of business leaders say they have been able to complete initiatives that previously encountered resistance, according to IBM.

And disruption has led to more experimentation and risk-taking within organisations, research from Deloitte shows. This is great to see because an ambitious mindset is key to adopting emerging technologies like machine learning and data analytics.

And if businesses make the right investments in digital innovation, they will help deliver a £232bn boost to UK GDP by 2040, according to our study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Investment in emerging technologies will drive better business performance. For example, organisations
with advanced AI adoption are twice as likely as others to report annual growth of 10% or more, according to McKinsey.

Channel partners can play a critical role in enabling businesses to drive change and growth by:

1.Pointing end-customers towards advanced networking technologies.
2. Playing a strategic rather than transactional role.
3. Giving customers more flexibility to choose what they want, when they need it.

Here’s how they can help fuel the next wave of innovation.  

1. Pointing end customers towards advanced networking technologies

Emerging technologies like 5G, machine learning and data analytics will drive a data explosion and bring new demands. And businesses are excited by these technologies and want to adopt them.

48% plan to introduce 5G into their organisation within the next two years, and 52% are accelerating adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), according to our study of 500 senior IT managers. But they aren’t acting to improve their networking infrastructure. 50% will not upgrade their connectivity, despite recognising they do not have the networks that can support these innovations.

So channel partners have an important role to play in showing end-customers how effective management of networking technologies - like ethernet protocols, optical wavelength high capacity services and SD-WANs - can prepare their organisations for innovation.

Take our National High Capacity Services (NHCS) for example. Wavelength division multiplexing technology can allow organisations to get more out of optical fibres they are using, bringing the power to scale up quickly and cost-effectively when needed.

And it gives end-customers access to extensive fibre-optic UK coverage, enabling them to benefit from high bandwidth (up to 100Gbit/s) at low latency, even if they’re connecting sites hundreds of miles apart.

By adopting these technologies now, organisations will be better prepared to capitalise on potentially data-rich innovations, enhance efficiency and productivity, and contribute to the £232bn opportunity for the national economy.

2. Playing a strategic rather than transactional role

Businesses with more collaborative relationships achieve higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than industry peers, according to McKinsey. And they are much better placed to capitalise on emerging technologies because of their access to a wider pool of expertise.

As we emerge from the pandemic, end-customers increasingly recognise this. And they are demanding more strategic consultancy from their channel partners.

50% say that quality of expertise is a vital characteristic in a channel partner, while 36% rely on direct conversations with their supplier to stay up to speed with the latest technologies and IT infrastructure.

But 33% feel that their relationships are too transactional. And this shows a clear opportunity for the channel to get closer to end-customers and guide them towards digital infrastructure that can help prepare them for innovation.  

3. Giving end-customers more flexibility

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of flexibility. Not just in terms of working patterns — but in giving end-customers what they want, when they need it.

Business flexibility is a key consideration for end-customers as the national lockdown lifts, as organisations look to relocate or scale their connectivity infrastructure up or down in response to sudden market developments.

And 55% said that flexible solutions were the most important factor in selecting a channel partner.

So it’s worth considering rethinking traditional commercial models to encourage more fluidity, shifting to easy-to-access, on-demand portals that empower end-customers, and reassuring them that they can rapidly scale up bandwidth whenever they need to.

If organisations feel they have more control over their networks, they’ll be more likely to take risks, invest in emerging technologies and make them work for their employees.


Innovation and the rebound

The channel has an exciting chance to set end-customers up for the rebound from Covid-19. And there are commercial opportunities for partners to grasp here, too.

We want to help them do this by providing as much flexibility and access to cutting-edge connectivity technologies as possible.

So we’re expanding access to our 10gbps portfolio across the country, and introducing more flexibility to our offering by offering zero-term contracts allowing partners to cancel at any time - helping them expand their portfolios and pass benefits on to UK PLC.

It’s all part of our commitment to do things differently and lead the revolution.

Find out more about how we are changing our approach to working with Wholesale partners through our UltimateFlex proposition  by watching our Big Switch Up event here.


Learn more about what we can do for our customers