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Huge opportunity for tech buyers

Highlighted by new research launched by BT Wholesale.

Huge opportunity for partners in 5G, UCaaS and AI if they keep it simple, BT Wholesale research finds

  • Over half of employees (59%) want their IT decision-makers to invest in AI
  • Majority of IT decision makers (75%) agree businesses need fewer applications and seven in ten (72%) agree they need simplified ways to collaborate
  • Most resellers (78%) say that their customers are asking about 5G

23 May, London

BT Wholesale has today published research that reveals over half (59%) of employees want their organisations to invest in AI. The research explores the channel landscape across AI, ways of working, 5G and more to help partners acquire new business while growing relationships with existing customers.


It surveyed employees and IT decision makers across industries,  as well as resellers. Findings show there is a huge amount of opportunity for channel partners this year, including IT decision makers’ appetite for spending, but that simplicity and fostering trust will help partners supercharge growth.

AI and the channel

The buzz surrounding the technology has created demand for AI solutions, with six in ten (61%) IT decision makers expecting to make investments in AI in the coming year – and over half (59%) of employees asking for such investments. This growing interest in new technologies means client conversations should be focused on the network requirements to make AI adoption a success. Whatever customers use AI for, they need their network to be built on a rock-solid foundation.


An important consideration with AI is that its relationship with security can be complex. The ICO says, “some of the unique characteristics of AI mean compliance with data protection law’s security requirements can be...challenging”. In addition, AI technology can provide criminals with increased powers, but can also arm cyber-security agencies with new solutions and levels of capability. Therefore, it’s particularly important for channel partners to encourage greater security awareness amongst their customers. These concerns are heightened by a lack of knowledge around AI. More than a quarter of IT decision makers do not feel that they fully understand what AI is – a sentiment shared by one in five (20%) employees.

Linking customer priorities to tech investment

Four out of five (80%) IT decision makers believe upgraded technology will help employees do their job better, with three quarters (75%) saying they want to invest in technology this year. To capitalise on this, channel partners must highlight the link between business priorities and tech investment. The number one priority for businesses is to increase customer satisfaction and retention, so these conversations can be a springboard for investing in new digital connectivity.


Managing risk is also an overarching concern, among which cyber-security should be an absolute priority. Channel resellers are significantly more likely (42%) to cite cyber-security as a top business priority than end-customer employees (25%) or even IT decision makers (27%). This is despite more than one in 10 (13%) IT decision makers falling victim to a scam themselves. To generate the same interest across stakeholder groups we need greater simplicity of both education and solutions.


Channel resellers are also leading the way on sustainability. Sustainability is seen as a business priority by four in ten (40%) resellers but only a third of customer respondents (32% of employees and 33% of IT decision makers). Channel partners must continue to push sustainability conversations and encourage customers to think this way, for example, by linking to business benefits like shifting to the cloud.

Hybrid working is here to stay

At least three quarters (75%) of all groups (channel resellers, IT decision makers and employees) believe businesses should allow remote working at least once a week. The optimum number of remote days is 2. IT decision makers were most likely to cite the benefits of trusting employees, with positive impacts on employee mental health and work/life balance.


For this to be the most effective, many IT decision makers agree they need fewer applications (75%) and simplified ways to collaborate (72%). Yet less than half (49%) of IT decision makers already have a UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) platform in place, with more than a third (35%) planning to invest in the next twelve months. The channel needs to develop simple business language and use cases to demonstrate the positive impacts UCaaS has on collaboration, well-being and productivity.


Elsewhere, seven in ten (70%) IT decision makers want face-to-face time with their technology partners. It is seen as vital to building successful relationships and growing trust. This is a huge opportunity for the channel to offer personal service and support.

Customers want all-IP, sometimes they just don’t know it

The research shows employees still want better connectivity – six in ten (65%) employees say they need faster connectivity and seven in ten (70%) more reliable connectivity. And yet, less than a third (31%) of IT decision makers and less than a fifth (16%) of employees prioritise the shift to all-IP.


At BT Wholesale, our message to the channel is simple: act now to futureproof your operations and reap the rewards of being a digital business. We’re encouraging businesses to review their technology footprint and identify what’s still connected to the PSTN. We have a team of experts to support, and any business can test their equipment for free at our R&D test centre at Adastral Park in Suffolk. Where possible, they should proceed to switch any legacy equipment to an all-IP alternative. The channel also has an important role to play in championing the benefits and use cases on All-IP, supporting more businesses to make the switch.


Today, smart channel players are investing in both all-IP and 5G to maximise the strength and reliability of their connections. As the 5G rollout continues at pace – with EE’s network now reaching more than 75% of the population1 – most resellers (78%) say that their customers are asking about 5G. This need is one of the key drivers of BT Wholesale’s Complete Mobile2 solution for the SMB market, bringing the power of EE – the UK’s leading mobile network for over 10 years – to the channel.

Following a year of rapid change, we wanted this research to hold invaluable lessons for our partners’ business growth. It’s clear that embracing 5G, AI, and cybersecurity is paramount, but trust and simplicity will remain the bedrock of success. The channel must pivot from tech talk to customer-focused conversation, fostering strong relationships to support customers as they navigate an ever-changing tech landscape.

Through it all, we're here to support Partner Plus partners in adapting their strategies to today's and tomorrow’s market. With our range of innovative solutions, expert advice, and ready-to-use materials, partners can focus on building relationships and seizing opportunities.

Gavin Jones
Channel Partners Director, BT Wholesale

Find out more here. You can also request a call with your account manager to discuss any of the opportunities highlighted from the research.

Methodology: To inform the development of this whitepaper, we conducted three in-depth interviews to provide a qualitative lens through which to better understand today’s business and channel dynamics.


This insight was complemented by a bespoke survey commissioned from Coleman Parkes with fieldwork conducted in February 2024. It consisted of:


  • 250 UK survey respondents made up of three audiences – employees, IT decision makers and resellers
    • 125 employees with no decision making responsibilities
    • 75 IT decision makers with sole or joint IT decision making responsibilities
    • 50 resellers from senior management


  • 75% of respondents from SMBs (less than 250 employees) and 25% from Enterprise (more than 250 employees)


  • Respondents from accommodation, construction, IT/Comms, manufacturing, professional services, retail, and utilities

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