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.
“We strongly feel we will hit or exceed pre-pandemic business levels. 2022 will be a year of acceleration and innovation, not mere recovery.”
Channel Sales at APC, Schneider Electric India
Here, as part of this special series of Tech Forecasts, Schneider Electric India registers its predictions for 2022.
Schneider Electric has been empowering businesses, enterprises, and individuals to utilize the maximum potential of energy and resources, empowering progress and sustainability. The company is driving digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, the endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software, and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure, and industries.
The person who is instrumental in Schneider’s notable success stories has been Swarup Das, Director, Channel Sales at APC, Schneider Electric India. A strong advocate of open standards and partnership ecosystems, Das is passionate about Schneider’s expanding presence and meticulous about fuelling up channel sales.
Here, Swarup Das, Director, Channel Sales at APC, Schneider Electric India, shares his company’s Channel Predictions for the year 2022. Edited excerpts…
Give a brief introduction to your company
Schneider Electric’s purpose is to empower businesses, enterprises, and individuals to utilize the highest potential from our energy and resources, empowering progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On. Our mission is to be a digital partner towards achieving Sustainability and Efficiency. We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, the endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software, and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure, and industries. Being advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems, we are passionate about our shared commitment, purpose, values, drive, and goals that seek to transform and disrupt approaches towards achieving a more scalable, clean and sustainable future.
As the pandemic is still there and a new variant has surfaced, what are the major market trends you are forecasting for 2022?
The uncertainty that followed the first wave of lockdowns across the globe created some friction and duress across organizations. Despite the headwinds imposed during this time, IT service companies bolstered their efforts, initiatives and pivoted their approach to counter the impending effects posed by the pandemic. Thus, we do not see any demand-side challenge impacting the sector. A large portion of the digital change that began last year is still ongoing and will not be impacted by the new variant or a precipitated third wave. IT companies are protected by the remote and hybrid working arrangements that have been implemented over the last year, as well as, the current and continuing need for digital solutions.
What major trends would you forecast for the channel market?
With the ongoing global pandemic, anticipating future trends has become more difficult than ever. However, some changes will translate into excellent prospects for the IT sector, ranging from the technology being adopted to customer expectations. Businesses resorted to the cloud, doubled down on security services, and needed new hardware and software deployments to meet their new remote workforce needs because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which fuelled sales growth for several channels. As a result, we expect sales to improve in the following months, resulting in higher revenues this year. This year and beyond, the sheer depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to run the massive estates will redefine the IT channels. Rather than covering all technological bases, partners will double down on their individual expertise.
In all areas, we expect the tremendous potential for channel partners. However, urgent investment in technology will assist a few important industries, including the public sector, education, and healthcare. The rising complexity of technology will be a recurring topic this year. Unfortunately, the number of trained individuals needed to assist firms in managing this complexity is expanding. As a result, cross-channel training and upskilling of individuals will be critical.
Which areas do you want to focus on in the channel – skillsets – sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, or any other?
We believe that to be a true industry leader, one must excel on all fronts. Therefore, we believe in concentrating our efforts in several areas across all the channels in the future. To manage our team and drive execution excellence, we must define a channel operations model. Our aim is to manage channels and plan to align on achieving larger business outcomes. Managing our channel incentives and partner investment model to promote specific ecosystem performance and results, is resulting in predictability and returns while allowing agility and responsiveness. In addition, this helps in creating incentives to motivate employees and enable them to gauge their efforts in achieving success across multiple fronts.
What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development?
Our biggest opportunity has been and remains our strong alliance with our channel partners. We can help our partners to increase their topline and bottom line by leveraging our wide portfolio of enterprise solutions and, in turn, helping their customers. We work towards aligning our partner’s core competencies to our business requirements, and help partners differentiate themselves in the marketplace through product understanding and enablement. This requires investment and we are planning to increase our budget in double digits.
What is your expectation from the channel this year?
We have got high hopes for development and innovation this year. We believe that we will be able to meet or exceed pre-pandemic business levels. 2022 will shape up to be a year of acceleration and innovation, not merely recovery. We are witnessing evidence of this in IT budgets, company efforts, and the talents that employers are trying to hire. In 2022, we expect IT businesses to pursue new customers and customer segments. That means businesses are stepping up their sales and marketing efforts to expand into new areas, particularly consulting services, as well as taking a closer look at the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other emerging technologies. It also suggests that the industry is anticipating a resumption of customer technology investments.
Are you planning any new product addition for the channel market?
For us at Schneider Electric, Innovation is! Our focus is on launching products to suit the need of Indian customers and expanding our channel reach.
We are seeing 4 focus areas that our customers are focusing on. And, as a result, we are working on these to support our customer’s initiatives. Our areas of focus would be Prefab Datacenters, Easy UPS with Li-Ion, Easy SMV rack and Online Li Ion UPS.
Is there any channel expansion plan in terms of numbers in 2022?
Increased channel presence, especially, in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns is a priority for us. We are present in almost all the territories of the country with our product business. However, our focus is on the next 24 cities which is fast growing beyond top 8 cities to be present for our solution business which includes three phase UPS, Precision Cooling solutions and Datacenter/Server rooms. Currently, we have identified certified partners to cater to customer demand in these cities which is helping us in increasing our footprints significantly.