IT vendors that have strong relationships with IT service providers are mobilizing those partners to enable organizations to respond adroitly to rapidly changing business conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In some cases, organizations are looking to cut costs by, for example, rapidly accelerating the rate at which application workloads are being shifted to the cloud to enable end users to securely access them remotely. In other cases, a massive spike in demand of online services is requiring organizations to implement major upgrades on the fly.
Regardless of the reason, the rate at which new IT solutions can be implemented is now often the difference between going with one IT vendor or another. To rise to that challenge, many IT companies are now making available free professional services for a limited time. In fact, a recent survey of 119 executives that manage partner relationships on behalf of IT vendors conducted by the market research firm 2112 Group finds 43% of respondents will be offering free software and services to help customers navigate the COVID-19 crisis, while 37% will be offering free and discounted technical support.
Much of those services and support will be provided by IT services providers that partner with those vendors. For example, Gigaspaces, a provider of a platform for running applications in-memory, has announced a program under which it will provide free go-live support services for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Those support services will be provided by both a professional services team that is augmented by third-party IT services providers.
The rate of speed at which an IT solution can be implemented is especially critical when it comes to cybersecurity. Many of the employees working from home are relying on systems they own that, at best, have a thin layer of endpoint protection. Organizations will be looking for ways to augment that security using a wide variety of tools that will require agent software to be pushed out to those endpoints.
Of course, managed service providers (MSPs) are typically in the best position to provide that capability. However, many internal IT teams will also be looking for help to do it themselves at a time when many of them are not allowed to visit their own data centers.
Regardless of how any technology is implemented, customers will also be looking for flexible payment terms to help cope with economic uncertainty. Current forecasts suggest the U.S. economy may decline as much as 14% in the second quarter alone. The 2112 survey notes that 27% of the respondents surveyed, also known as channel executives, plan to offer more flexible payment terms in the weeks and months ahead.
It’s quickly becoming apparent the financial resources any vendor can bring to bear to help both end customers and partners alike will be critical. Beyond the quality of the products and being services offered, the flexibility of the IT vendor in terms of services, support, and payment is now a crucial means of sorting the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Against that calculus, size and scope now matter a lot more than ever before.
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike also blogs about emerging cloud technology for SmarterMSP.