This week, four of our fabulous team  attended Channel Live 2024 at the Birmingham’s NEC. With a packed agenda, insightful sessions, and networking galore, it was a day that left us all buzzing with excitement (not to mention slightly exhausted!).

Whilst we couldn’t possibly have made it to every single session, roundtable and tech tour, we certainly did our best. In this blog post we wanted to provide a summary of our learnings and overview of key challenges and opportunities facing the channel right now. So, let’s go!

Dr. Lucy Green, CEO of Lavato, kicked things off with her opening session on the economic outlook of the channel, where she provided some interesting stats and eye-opening insights following a Lavato research study of over 300 UK channel partners.

  • Channel market worth: The entire channel market is valued at an impressive £70 billion. Surprisingly however, only 40% of business buyers are aware of the channel’s existence. Imagine the potential market growth if everyone knew about it!
  • Partner preference: Among those who hadn’t even heard of the channel, a whopping 72% expressed a preference for using partners. Why? Because they seek more than just transactions—they crave relationships, advice, and support from their tech suppliers.
  • Resellers aspirations: Revenue and margin growth topped their wish list, with 57% of resellers hungry for strategies that boost their bottom line. Sales and marketing support are equally crucial, with 50% of resellers wanting support.
  • AI: As expected, AI had a significant role to play across Channel Live, and Lucy’s comment that “If AI isn’t in your portfolio, you should think again.” Sums up the channel’s attitude to AI quite nicely! Essentially, the channel must embrace AI if they want to remain relevant and competitive.
  • Equip your teams: Interestingly, Lavato’s research showed that resellers believed their sales teams could only close 20% of deals. In the words of Lucy Green “Coach and equip your sales teams to flip this statistic on its head”.

As a channel marketing agency whose expertise lies in providing marketing support (outstanding marketing support we’d like to add!) to IT organisations in the form of demand generation, content creation and training, you can imagine how thrilled we were by the findings of this research!

We also came away from Channel Live 2024 with some really interesting insights on upcoming digital and enterprise trends, priorities and challenges.

Top 3 enterprise challenges:

  • Increasing operating efficiency
  • Improving customer experience
  • Managing security risks

Top 3 enterprise priorities:

  • Building the Modern Workplace
  • Modernizing Legacy Systems
  • Navigating the 5G Landscape

Emerging Technology Trends:

  • AI
  • IoT
  • 5G

The technologies that will change the workplace in the future:

  • AI (Again!)
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Robotic Processes
  • Wearable Tech
  • Augmented Reality

And now for the star of the show… AI.

As expected, AI dominated conversations throughout the event with its potential and impact on the channel evident in almost every session.

Pat Champan-Pincher eloquently explored the state of AI and set the scene for its future. I think her insights resonated with us all as she shed light on both the opportunities and limitations of this transformative technology.

Pat’s opening message was clear: “Please don’t panic—it’s an evolution, not a revolution.”  Whilst AI has dominated headlines and conversations for the last 18 months or so, it’s essential to recognise that its growth is gradual and rather than fearing the disruption AI could potentially cause, we should be embracing a gradual shift.

The focus for most of the AI sessions was all about applying common sense and recognising the limitations and opportunities of AI. “AI augments human capabilities—it doesn’t replace them”. Whilst AI can enhance processes, it’s important we all remember that the human touch remains irreplaceable.

What is AI is good at?

  • Data Analysis: Crunching numbers, identifying patterns, and extracting insights.
  • Inventory Management: Optimizing stock levels, reducing waste, and streamlining supply chains.
  • Scenario Planning: Simulating various outcomes based on different variables.

and when is it dangerous?

  • Customer service
  • Recruitment
  • Looking after your IP

What are the opportunities of AI in the channel?

  • An opportunity for partners to tap into another revenue stream with something that is hugely topical and top-of-mind
  • As mentioned already, the opportunities AI provides when supplementing humans
  • The value add that can be achieved with regards to IT support

Best practices of AI

  • Start small
  • Define the problem you’re trying to solve and only then look at the technology best placed to solve this
  • Work with someone as an AI advisor, rather than someone that’s trying to sell to you

Finally, what does AI mean for the future of channel?

  • It’s an opportunity to transform relationships with customers
  • It means a change in value proposition. But that’s OK because we know a really great marketing agency that can support with this 😉
  • It’s another reason for sales to pick up the phone. AI is top of mind and topical and adds another string to a partners bow

Essentially, AI is a vast opportunity for the channel. Let’s embrace it, understand it, and work alongside it.

That’s us over and out and looking forward to Channel Live 2025 already!