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What has the channel learnt from Covid-19 and how can it support the new future?

By Gavin Jones

Channel Director at BT Wholesale

A few weeks ago, we ran a virtual roundtable alongside Comms Dealer and some of our channel partners. The aim of the session was to bring together business leaders from across the space to discuss how processes have changed due to Covid-19 and what it may mean for the future of the channel. Some interesting points were raised and it provided an insight into how our partners have adapted to Covid, and what will likely be the ‘new norm’. 

The discussion can largely be split into three categories and we’ll briefly discuss what was covered in each.

 

1. Covid-19: lessons for the channel 

Connectivity has truly established itself as the fourth utility. Businesses rely on communication tools to keep workforces operational and talking, and without them large-scale remote working simply wouldn’t have been possible. The networks delivering connectivity have handled the increased demand and there is plenty of room for growing bandwidth requirements. 

The situation is providing an opportunity for partners to analyse their businesses to see what truly works, aids resilience, and adds robustness to business models. Keeping morale up is reliant on over communicating, being open and honest with employees about the company’s situation and future plans is essential. 

How to maintain current client service levels was also discussed. Businesses need to evaluate client lists, perhaps letting some go in order to better focus on others. And there will also be a larger blend between centralised offices and remote workforces, with partners – and their customers – benefiting from the increased agility remote working enables. 

 

2. Opportunities post-Covid 

Moving forward, the channel needs to support new initiatives. Increased remote working will become central to many and spending across digital infrastructure will naturally increase too. This period has tested businesses’ continuity and resilience and there will be a drive to ensure they are able to cope with future events without the disruption.

This growth, alongside the continued adoption of 5G, will bring so much more than fast downloads. There will be a bow wave of digital opportunities and new businesses being born, and the channel must be ready to provide in order to flourish. This means ensuring connectivity and tools, while also understanding how customers’ requirements are changing and what that may mean for their future digital journey. 

 

3. The importance of partnerships 

Delivering for this new normal will require the channel showing more flexibility, not simply to end user customers, but along the entire network. Businesses may not want to sign up to multi-year contracts until firmer post-Covid foundations have been established, and those changing demands need to be reflected up and down the chain. With removal of early cancellation charges, for instance. Now more than ever, having complete trust throughout partnerships is pivotal in both existing and new relationships.  

 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our roundtable. For a more in-depth account of the event, check out Comms Dealer’s article ‘Emerging from Covid-19 lockdown with strength’. 

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