Guest Column | May 4, 2023

From 5G To Sustainability: Channel Partners Are Key Players In IT Strategy

By Jamil King, Panasonic Connect North America

GettyImages-1313742092 tech partner

Channel partners can help IT teams maintain and retain top talent, understand connectivity options, and increase sustainability.

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, IT leaders face mounting pressure to stay ahead of the curve while also balancing staffing needs, adapting to changing connectivity infrastructure, and implementing sustainable practices.

Channel partners play a critical role in helping IT leaders overcome challenges and capitalize on emerging industry trends. They offer the right balance of meeting today’s demands and prepping for tomorrow’s innovations. Plus, they understand the technology AND the customers.

Bridging The Talent Gap 

Demand for tech talent still exceeds supply. In December 2022, 86% of CIOs reported increased competition for qualified tech talent, and 73% worried about IT talent attrition. To attract the best talent and supplement IT teams, CIOs and tech leaders must improve operations with full-scale solutions, streamlined upgrades, and augmented services. Channel partners who see their role as an extension of a customer’s IT team will help their clients win the day.

A channel partner who intimately understands their customer base will know how to combine hardware and software solutions with relevant value-added services and help IT teams thrive. Tailored recommendations minimize the time and resources IT requires for maintaining, monitoring, and managing these solutions over their lifespan. The result is better support and longer device life cycles.

For example, a mission-critical industry — like a fire department or police force — needs rugged mobile solutions for increased situational awareness and durability in extreme environments. To support constrained IT resources, channel partners must offer solutions ready to deploy out of the box. And to best meet the needs of this essential workforce, solutions must be reliable yet adaptable to changing demands.

Understanding The Future Of Connectivity

The industry is full steam ahead on connectivity — offering everything from 5G to 5.5G, Sub6 to mmWave. How do companies know what’s best for their business? Every industry and company is on a different path. Company A may need to move information faster or install cutting-edge AI and machine learning. But company B may have a robust 4G infrastructure and want the best 4G-compatible options. Still, company C isn’t quite ready for 5G but wants to take steps to prepare its infrastructure for that transition. No matter where a customer is in its connectivity journey, it’s a channel partner’s job to know what’s available and what will work best for each use case. With diverse experience across industries, channel partners can offer insights and best practices to meet unique client needs.

 It comes down to asking the right question. While a customer may ask, “Does this solution have 5G?” The channel partner should ask, “What challenge do you hope 5G will solve?” While 5G promises a host of new use cases, it may not be the best answer for all applications. For example, utility workers prioritize battery life and always-on access over sporadic high-bandwidth data transfer. So consistent but low-power connectivity options may be a better fit than 5G. The best channel partners look for the question behind the question and tie recommendations back to business outcomes and user needs.

Building Sustainable Business Initiatives

C-suite leaders, investors, and employees agree — sustainability matters. Every part of a company must make an active effort to improve sustainability, including IT. There is no silver bullet, but seemingly small choices can make a difference.

A greener IT starts with the three “Rs” many of us learned in elementary school — reduce, reuse, recycle. This could look like reducing solution shipments with predictive analytics. It could also mean reusing devices by swapping out specific parts, like batteries or attachable keyboards, or upgrading the software and services attached to that core solution versus deploying new systems. Or it could look like recycling a device that no longer meets the need of one job to another job, paradoxically providing the latter with an upgrade. Together, these changes can drastically reduce IT’s carbon footprint and support long-term sustainable practices.

Channel partners can build incentive programs to encourage sustainability, such as rebates for buying devices with swappable parts or combining shipments. Partners also can use data analytics to ensure sustainability on the backend, such as knowing when a device may fail and offering an upgrade or software fix to avoid downtime. As the gatekeepers between vendors and customers, channel partners offer a strategic view of IT hardware, software, and solutions and sustainable options for every stakeholder.

The best channel partners stay ahead of the trends and adapt quickly. They combine extensive technical expertise with an understanding of customer goals and available solutions. They are critical to helping customers meet IT needs and capitalize on future technology trends.

About The Author

Jamil King is the Director of U.S. Mobility Channel for Panasonic Connect North America.