Data-driven channel management

Is big data in the regional channel an untapped growth opportunity?

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Data-driven channel management ((ITP Images))
By  Manda Banda Published  May 15, 2014

In the April edition, we covered a feature on big data and how this sector has so much growth potential. But is big data in the regional channel an untapped growth opportunity?

More than two-thirds of all IT revenue in the region flows through indirect channels, industry analysts estimate, and transactions between IT providers and their channel partners and end customers generate mind-boggling amounts of data. Unfortunately, too few vendors and distributors are tapping their channel data’s full potential.

Every day in the Middle East channel IT providers and their partners market solutions to end customers. Leads are generated and qualified. Deals are registered and protected. Sales are made. Hardware products are shipped (and sometimes returned). Incentives and rebates are paid. And this cycle continues on monthly basis.

Given the data created with each interaction in the supply chain, there is no doubt that this is a treasure trove of market intelligence. Mining this channel data would yield invaluable insights to help vendors and distributors answer critical questions like what customers and customer segments represent the most promising growth opportunities, what are the highest-priority solutions and use cases, which marketing campaigns represent the greatest ROI, which partners are driving and fulfilling demand in the marketplace and what partner programme investments have the greatest impact on channel performance in the Middle East region?

Data gaps and quality issues have hindered channel managers for decades. Integrating channel data, spread across multiple disparate information systems, has proved an overwhelming challenge for many many companies. In many cases, channel partners here in the Middle East have also added to this by their reluctance to share data with their IT vendors or distributors due to concerns about how this data would be used. Consequently, channel and sales managers are forced to make decisions with imperfect information and poor visibility of the overall channel performance.

Recent technology innovations are breaking down the barriers that prevented IT providers from gleaning insight from their mountains of channel data. New data management, analytics and business intelligence tools make it easier to aggregate and analyse channel data.

Channel partners on the other hand, are slowly opening to sharing information, if they are made aware and understand how the information will be used and receive value in return.

Despite these promising developments, many IT providers are still struggling to build channel analytics capabilities. Implementing new data management and BI tools is not enough. Industry leaders are making significant changes to their sales and marketing organisations and partner programmes to enable data-driven channel management.

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