Roundtable discussion: How wholesale partners can work together to grasp the £232bn opportunity

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

March 29th 2021

Over the last year we’ve worked tirelessly with our partners to give customers the solutions they need to adapt to new ways of working and meet online consumer demand in the wake of Covid-19.

While the vaccine rollout may soon bring an end to restrictions, many of the changes will likely be here to stay.

We recently partnered with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) to understand more about how technology will help UK industries
thrive in this new everyday. And how it will help the country rebound over the coming decades.

The research revealed an opportunity to add £232bn to UK GDP by 2040 just by investing in digital technology – roughly the current size of South Africa or Finland’s entire economy.

At our recent Channel Live roundtable in collaboration with our partners Exponential-e, Gamma and Capita Customer Management, we talked about
the steps the channel community needs to take to help make this a reality.

There were three key themes that stood out to me:

1.    The importance of moving at pace

2.    Adjusting to support new working patterns

3.    The critical need for greater collaboration

Let’s look at them in a little more detail…

We were joined at the Channel Live event by our partners Mukesh Bavisi, Managing Director, Exponential-e, Rachel Dingley, Head of Procurement, Voice and Communications, Gamma, and Kevin Phillips, Business Development Director, Capita Customer Management, to discuss how the channel community can grasp the £232bn opportunity.


The importance of moving at pace

The Marc Benioff quote “We need to get to the future ahead of our customers” set the scene for the discussion. When it comes to digital
transformation and grasping this opportunity, this couldn’t be more true.

While the channel community has proven year after year that it’s good at adapting to new environments, we need to change our approach to meet the needs of a market fundamentally transformed by Brexit and Covid-19.

Frankly, the strategies we had for digital transformation before the crisis have gone out of the window.

As my colleague Diego Tedesco pointed out in the session, moving at pace is about thinking creatively to meet customer needs.

Many end customers are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. And while they want to invest, this isn’t always an easy thing for
them to do.

So there’s a need to quickly develop commercial offerings that show sensitivity to this environment. This is a crucial step towards powering
the UK forward and helping us all achieve the £232bn opportunity.

Adjusting to support new working patterns

“We are consuming and producing data at an unprecedented level,” Capita’s Kevin Phillips commented in the discussion. And these needs aren’t going to disappear as we shift from mass homeworking to a more hybrid model.

Flexible working will positively influence 46% of all jobs over the next twenty years, according to our study. Major businesses such as HSBC, Facebook and Twitter have already committed to long-term remote and flexible working policies or shutting some of their offices.

The right networking solutions will be key here. Exponential-e managing director Mukesh Bavisi explained that a “triple play of connectivity – be it 5G, broadband, ethernet – overlaid by SD-WAN to provide analytics and data can really help make the experience much better.”

And as Rachel Dingley, Head of Procurement, Voice and Communications at Gamma, highlighted, “It is not just our products that need to be really flexible. The service needs to be flexible as well – on-demand, portal applications, so that people can log on at any time and get the service they require.”

And investing in flexible networking technologies won’t just meet hybrid working needs. As Kevin Phillips argued, adoption can also help prepare organisations for innovative technologies.

“The foundation is connectivity, whatever that method might be”, he explained. “Artificial intelligence and robotics, process automation – we shouldn’t be afraid of that. It’s already out there, and the Swindon Borough Council example in your report with its free meal initiative to support struggling families (is an example of that). Automating the process led to efficiency gains…(and) freed up human beings for value-adding services. That’s where we’re going and that’s what we need”.

From my point of view, there’s much to be said for our role as a channel community in helping customers support new working patterns and accelerate their journey towards the £232bn opportunity.

But we all need to be more flexible if we’re going to make this happen.

The critical need for collaboration

Our panel of attendees agreed that to encourage end customers to invest in digital technologies, we all need to get closer to them. We need to understand the unique challenges they face.

But the conversations we had with 500 senior IT managers at large organisations suggested we aren’t doing enough right now.

31% of channel potential end customers say their relationship with their partner is too transactional. And 33% say there’s an opportunity for their channel supplier to give them more knowledge and expertise for overcoming challenges.

As I said in our roundtable discussion, if you put yourself in your customers’ shoes there are so many choices they have to make as they walk back into their new everyday: connecting a distributed workforce, securing their networks, empowering employees split between office and home.

Changing these perceptions and showing we can help answer these difficult choices is about educating the channel, supporting their end customers in achieving long-term gains rather than just looking for quick fixes and investing in key relationships over time.

As Kevin Phillips commented, “Moving forward, if we’re going to take advantage of the £232bn opportunity out there, let’s sell with rather than sell to”.

Because by working together and strengthening our partnerships, we can create solutions that succeed operationally, technically and commercially and set end customers up for the Covid-19 rebound.

Let's seize this opportunity now

We all agreed that our research with the Cebr has revealed an exciting opportunityfor partners to enhance their impact and explore new opportunities across a range of different sub-sectors.

Grasping these new opportunities will generate commercial success for partner organisations and help make the UK a more dynamic and prosperous place to live.  

So let’s work together to make this once-in-a-generation moment one to remember and ensure we’re right behind our end customers as they define their new everyday.  


Learn more about what we can do for our customers