Amid the increasing blare of the pandemic and the spectre of omicron casting its long shadows over the tech landscape, we have ushered into 2022. Channel success which has always been the holy-grail for any business is all set to get a makeover in the new year.
As part of our effort to get the channel community better informed and get an earful of what the who’s who of Indian IT are thinking, expecting, and planning for the channel community in 2022, we have started this new section to record the channel predictions of the most prominent players of the IT industry.
“Communication and Collaboration Technologies will Continue to Be in High Demand, with Hybrid Working on the Rise.”
Mr Pramod Sharda,
IceWarp, India & Middle East
Here, as part of this special series of Tech Forecasts, Icewarp India registers its predictions for 2022.
The Prague-headquartered, IceWarp has been a leading player in developing email communication and collaboration solutions, and has been driving a seachange in how teams share information online and optimize business processes through its streamlined and seamless team collaboration solutions.
The steersman of the Icewarp story has been Mr Pramod Sharda, its maverick CEO for India & Middle East. Mr Sharda has been instrumental in growing IceWarp’s business presence and lifting up its market share in India.
A well-known technology usability expert; Sharda has that uncanny ability to deliver adoption of far-reaching business and technology solutions to meet business requirements. A passionate professional with proven adaptability and innovation using industry best practices in IT consolidation, program management, and intelligence and enterprise architecture design or solution delivery for leading global or local technology programs.
Here, Mr Pramod Sharda, CEO at IceWarp, India & Middle East, relates his company’s Channel Predictions for the year 2022. Edited excerpts…
Give a brief introduction of your company.
A global leader in developing email communication and collaboration solutions, IceWarp is headquartered in Prague. The company has been operating globally since 2001. IceWarp has changed entirely the concept of how teams share information online and optimize business processes through its streamlined and seamless team collaboration solutions. Our all-in-one collaboration platform has a family of apps with real-time collaboration tools, easy sharing options, integration of various virtual office functions right at the user’s finger tips by integrating everything they need under a single login – Email, TeamChat, and Storage.
IceWarp offers its users ease of use, security, and efficiency through its complete solution for all their office work in a single window, without needing any third-party applications. IceWarp aims at continuous and comprehensive innovation considering current trends and requirements of more than 50 million paid users and 50,000 customers worldwide. With a business presence across 50 countries, IceWarp has already acquired more than 1200+ customers in India within a span of 6 years. Currently, IceWarp provides the only alternative to MS Exchange, MS 365, and Google Workspace.
As the pandemic is still there and a new variant has surfaced, what are the major market trends you are forecasting for 2022?
Both 2020 and 2021, whilst challenging on a personal note, has also been a highly positive one for the technology industry and the channel ecosystem as a whole. Faster adoption of cloud, digital technologies, security and collaboration technologies has driven the need for a whole host of technologies. 2022 seems to be moving in a similar pattern. Communication and collaboration technologies will continue to be in high demand, especially with hybrid working on the rise, which will create the need for providing a quality of service and experience equivalent to what you would get within your offices. At IceWarp, our whole belief of providing a focused unified communication and collaboration platform, is driven by these ethos of providing a quality of service, no matter where you are.
What major trends are you forecasting in the channel market?
Channel should look at availing the opportunity of moving away from a traditional box or resell model to an As-a-Service model. The ability to allow customers to scale up or down across offerings, whether hardware driven or even service driven, will allow them to create a recurring revenue model and retain customers for a longer period, which, in turn, will create opportunities for upsell and cross-sell as well.
Which areas you want to focus in the channel – skillsets – sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, etc.?
We have been investing heavily on upscaling our partner network, ensuring that they are trained and certified on IceWarp. We want our partners to be able to go beyond selling and cater to expert implementation and migration service to their customer base. The depth of partnership is defined with the service and support that is provided by the partner in growth. We also encourage on joint marketing activities with our partners to ensure that partner gets the demand for our solution.
What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development?
At IceWarp, we believe Channel development is key to our strategy. Hence, we allocate almost 15-20% towards channel development.
What is your expectation from the channel this year?
In IceWarp, we ask our partners to be the True Trusted Advisors to their customers. That’s the best way to help overcome these challenges. One of the biggest asks for the partners is not to look at selling products, but understanding what their customers really need. What are their pain points? And then propose a solution which could be based on a product or a service or a combination of both. Conversations should be around business roadmap, security, regulatory compliance, skills availability, technology, and much more.
Are you planning any new product addition for the channel market?
Covid and its variants are still running rampant. Customers will still be looking at technologies which can help ensure uninterrupted business execution and hence technologies such as Cloud solutions, Collaboration tools, Security, etc. will still have a major role to play in the coming years. The difference will be in terms of the size of the customers, wherein even SMB & Mid-Market customers, will now be looking for better options in these offerings to ensure they’re able to conduct business. We have been consistently working on feedback from our prospects and customers and enhancing our offerings as per market demands.
Is there any channel expansion plan in terms of numbers in 2022?
Apart from the traditional cloud offerings of SaaS, IaaS & PaaS, today, even hardware is moving into an as-a-service model with the Hardware-as-a-Service market expecting to reach $300bn globally in the next 5-6 years. Further, with the acceptance of remote servicing even in sectors which were traditionally not open to such models, local, regional and global MSPs will also play a strong role in the coming period.
We definitely feel that Channel being core to our go-to-market strategy will continue playing a pivotal role of working together in the market to reach out geographically and vertically.