Report: Technology Presents Opportunities, Challenges for Channel Leaders

Channel leaders are embracing technology, but struggling to maximize its value, suggests a new report from 360insights.

Like virtually every other vertical in business today, sales and marketing departments are staring down the barrel of tremendous technological change. Unfortunately, many of the channel managers therein are struggling to adapt, suggests a new report from global channel incentives company 360insights.

Published today, 360insights' Q3 Channel Pulse Report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 channel professionals who shared their perspective on major trends unfolding in the channel space.

In pursuit of B2B buyers, the survey found, channel leaders are finally adopting tools like marketing automation platforms and resources like in-house data scientists. However, digital transformation remains a "slow and painstaking process," observes 360insights, which notes channel managers' biggest technology challenges are channel financial investment (23 percent) and channel knowledge and enablement (35 percent), followed by cultural resistance (20 percent) and lack of senior management focus (10 percent).

"Transformation is almost always accompanied by a significant enablement effort, so this is no big surprise," 360insights reports. "When funding is tight it becomes much more difficult to achieve digital transformation. Organizations struggling to effectively implement digital transformation initiatives may find value in focusing on optimizing their channel incentives spending and prioritizing channel management education and resource distribution."

When it comes to marketing automation platforms, 360insights found that most channel professionals (65 percent) still do not use one. Among those that do (35 percent), most (77 percent) are dissatisfied with the level of channel adoption as well as the ROI they achieve from the platform.

Channel leaders tell a similar story -- growing adoption tempered by uncertain results -- with regard to data science: Although half of channel leaders say they employ a data scientist who supports channel operations, only 43 percent of those channel leaders have a data scientist who's dedicated exclusively to their channel; the remainder have a data scientist who's shared across the entire sales and marketing department.

Whether lacking a channel-dedicated data scientist hinders digital transformation "has yet to be determined," 360insights reports.

Concluded 360insights vice president of marketing Paul Yantus, "Technology continues to drive innovation -- transforming the status quo for channel organizations. An ongoing need for digital transformation, particularly in go-to-market functions, is omnipresent. But while channel professionals know it's happening, many are still unsure about how to manage it within their own unique sales ecosystem."

The full Q3 Channel Pulse Report is available for complimentary download from 360insights' website.