Modernizing the Channel Model - Part 5 (How to Keep Pace in the Race for Competitive Differentiation)

October 31, 2018

As we’ve discussed in the past, the pace of technology change in society and business is unprecedented. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 1 million tech startups each year globally. Why?


Because we are seeing a direct – if not fundamental – correlation between technology and business success. Check this out from Patrick Fisher, Thomson Reuters’ Global Business Director in their Technology Practice Group:


Companies that use technology for competitive advantage will win in today's fast-paced business environment where all companies are becoming tech companies.

The five largest companies in the world by market capitalization are all software companies.  But Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook  and Microsoft are not the only important large technology companies today. As technologies become more and more pervasive across industries and functions, companies as varied as Goldman Sachs, Exxon, GE, Citi, and Walmart are all becoming technology companies as well.


OK, we get it. Technology is being developed at breakneck speed, all in an attempt to satisfy the insatiable appetite for competitive advantage. But as a Distributor or VAR, you must be asking, “How do I keep pace?”


Cloud. Artificial Intelligence. Business Analytics. IoT. Robotics. Geez, I know my customers want me to help them sort through the plethora of innovative technologies out there to find the winners that can make a difference in their business, but how do I do that when it takes all my resources – and hours in a day – to ensure my clients get flawless performance from  legacy technology solutions?


Glad you asked! But before we answer, you must acknowledge that you have no choice. With typically >80% of your revenue coming from your legacy vendors, you must deliver expertise and high-quality projects with your current set of partners, AND understand and consult with your customers about the new technologies coming to market.


How is that possible?


Getting – and Staying – Ahead of the Curve


Your CTO, Practice Directors and Vendor Alliances team will obviously take the lead here, assuming 1) you have those functions on board, and 2) they have enough bandwidth beyond developing, deploying and supporting technology projects. That said, here are three simple ideas that you may want to work into your process:


  1. Baseline Your Current Portfolio – Using the popular Technology Adoption Lifecycle model, plot your current vendor partnerships in their respective phase. This will undoubtedly reveal some gaping holes in your portfolio. Filling those gaps will form the basis of a two to three-year vendor recruitment plan.

  2. Establish an Innovation Solutions Plan – This plan should look out 2-3 years (probably no longer since technology changes so quickly) and identify those key targets that fill the gaps in your current portfolio. These targets should form a heat map for your company  to research and engage.

  3. Research and Engage – This will vary based on your budget. In a perfect world, you would have someone dedicated to using research tools like Gartner, IDC, Forrester to identify the key market trends and hot technologies coming to market. They would then own aligning the findings with your go-to-market strategy, as well as engaging and onboarding new vendors.


Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, and those pundits often don’t identify new technology companies until it is too late, meaning the market opportunity has progressed to the Early Majority or Late Majority (in the Technology Adoption Lifecycle) where the competitive difference has disappeared. In our semi-flawed, pragmatic world (like the channel!), smart companies take a more practical approach. That is where companies like Vation Ventures can offer a more economical, laser-focused strategy to target and get you connected to the right technologies at the right time!


At Vation Ventures, we understand we are all on this journey together. Our value proposition is based on providing innovation a path to success. Contact us today to find out how we can help smooth out the bumps along the way.





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