By Kathy Gibson – As end users digitally transform their businesses, it’s vital that IT reseller partners transform as well.

That’s one of the messages from Dell Technologies, talking to partners about opportunities for partners in the year ahead.

Doug Woolley, MD of Dell Technologies South Africa, points out that digital transformation changed the world faster than could have been thought possible during the Covid pandemic.

And, while organisations are still wondering how working models will evolve from here, what will never change is that the workforce is now able to collaborate from anywhere, he says.

“As customers transform, our partners need to transform,” he stresses. “They need to take a consultative approach and assume a leadership position. A lot of partners haven’t transformed as quicky as their customers have – but it is important that they take the next set of messages to customers, and help them to further transform their business.

“The next big things are coming now.”

During the next year, Dell Technologies is focusing on six priority areas: storage, the data centre, the hybrid workforce, cyber resilience, winning in a multi-cloud world, and the VMware advantage.

Woolley believes there are major opportunities around the opening up of spectrum and the widespread deployment of 5G and private 5G. There will be new applications and business models arising from edge technologies as well.

“Government is talking about extending free data to every citizen: what does that mean for all of us.”

Importantly, the CIO is now a vital part of any organisation’s leadership team, he adds, and smart companies are using them to drive strategy.

Dell Technologies relies heavily on its partner network to spread the company’s messaging and reach every customer, Woolley adds.

“Partners are important, and their skills are important. I think we are sitting on the cusp of a massive revolution for IT in South Africa.”

Bennie du Plessis, senior channel sales manager at Dell Technologies South Africa, say that while digital transformation has accelerated, new opportunities are opening up all the time, and Dell is enabling its partners to seize them.

“When it comes to customer priorities, the mindset is changing from how do we survive to how do we thrive. IDC predicts that digital transformation, which has accel over the last two years, will continue to accelerate over the next two – and will advance 55% by 2024.”

Dell Technologies new partnering theme, “Build your Breakthrough”, is about the intersection of people and technology, Du Plessis says.

Storage will be a major push for Dell Technologies this year. “But the discussion is about more than storage – it’s about data protection and privacy,” Woolley says. “When we talk about storage, it’s also about protecting the data so there is business continuity. It’s about the retention and protection of data, as well as getting insights.”

Partner specialisation will be key not just in the storage environment, Du Plessis adds. “We want more specialist partners. There are untapped opportunities out there, and partners play a key role in meeting that opportunity. We want partners to be able to articulate and consult to realise those opportunities.”

Dell Technologies recently launched its Apex as-a-service offerings globally, and they are now becoming available in the South African market, opening up another opportunity for partners.

“Where partners can play a role is integrating Apex services into the customer environment,” Woolley says. “A lot of customers are looking to co-location, getting rid of their data centre real estate, and these models lend themselves to that transformation.

“For partners, this is a great opportunity to fundamentally change their business models. The as-a-service model allows partners to add richness to the service. They can move to management the full stack, with compute, security and backup.

“There is a huge opportunity for partners that grab it and run with it.”

The trend to hybrid working presents another big opportunity for partners, Du Plessis says. “A massive 72% of HR leaders are saying their organisation has permanently changed the way employees are working.

“In South Africa, 80% of people don’t want to go back to the office full-time; and globally seven in 10 workers will only consider a job if it allows them to work from a location of their choice.

“We need to make sure we make it comfortable for customers to do that.”