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Are you prepared for digital transformation?

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As IT technologies continue to evolve to support the inevitable Digital Transformation, 2015 has been a year of significant change in the market, driven mainly by customers, writes Frank Basinski, director: partner programs & enablement at Red Hat EMEA.
Over the past year, the technologies that are fundamentally changing businesses, Cloud, Big Data and Mobility, have begun to mature. This trend will continue in earnest into 2016 and those companies that aren’t able to provide or support these technologies will be in danger of being left behind. So what do channel partners and supporting vendors need to prioritise, pay attention to and nail down in 2016?
* Training, training and more training – partners needs to get trained up and vendors need to ensure that they are offering the  type of training needed to put partners in a position of confidence and competitive advantage. Partners need to make crucial decisions – do they choose to specialise in one particular area or offer a wider portfolio? Partners that sit on the fence many find themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage with their solution provider or system integrator competitors, who will over-take them. Whatever they decide, they have to know that the vendors they are working with offer the training that they need.
In the first six months of the current fiscal year, Red Hat trained and accredited more than 1000 Red Hat Partners in its technologies in the EMEA region, and the momentum continues. On top of this, Red Hat has implemented a model for partners that gives them access to as much training as they need, free of charge, in order for its partners to ensure sustained quality-of-service to customers. This is so important to our partners as it dissolves potential barriers to adoption for our technologies, increases the speed to market for 3rd Platform solutions based on Red Hat, and provides our partners with a valuable and tangible quality and efficiency differentiator.
* Interoperability and integration – The importance of this to customers cannot be stressed enough, and so we expect strategic alliances to play an important part in the direction that the industry will take next year.. Realistically speaking, end customers are invested in both, and need integration and interoperability to facilitate their Digital Transformation plans. This removes a major question mark from the transformation strategies of end customers, representing a major business opportunity that has received so much positive resonance around the world with System Integrator partners.
* The thriving hybrid cloud – Red Hat’s Certified Cloud and Service Provider program was based on the continuing shift from on premise to cloud, and ensuring our partners are best-placed to deliver on customer projects. Whilst not all organisations want to move entirely to the cloud, we will see much greater growth in the adoption of hybrid cloud, and organisations making this shift will want to do so sooner rather than later, and we see this playing a big part in business investment in 2016.
* Battling for budget – IT will increasingly compete for technology budget with buyers from other lines of business within their organisations. As digital continues to play a larger part of marketing strategies, organisations’ IT teams need the flexibility to integrate complex new solutions quickly, comprehensively and reliably. Because of this we are already seeing partners with complimentary skill-sets focus on building strategic collaborations, placing themselves in a strong position to offer end-users exactly what they require. This trend can be highlighted in UK partners LinuxIT, Softcat and Tier 2 Consulting, operating under the project name ‘The Three Musketeers,’ who used their combined skills on customer projects with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.
Knowing what’s needed is just as important as having access to it, and partners that keep their ears to the ground will have a much better understanding of why many end customers are planning to, or have already initiated the transformation of their IT and business methods. Adaptability and flexibility play a major factor in end users’ investment decisions, which is why transformation-enabling technologies are becoming the focus of many business’ future-proofing activities.
Red Hat started maturing its portfolio years ago in preparation for these trends to materialise as substantial market demand, and most channel partners will feel very optimistic about 2016, with the prospect of another major technology transition in the market – particularly as this represents potential for massive growth in services.