By Peter DiMarco, Vice President of VAR Sales, D&H Distributing
As the channel faces the “next normal,” solutions providers need to be savvy and creative when it comes to helping their clientele reopen with a degree of safety. This is especially crucial in many hard-hit—yet traditionally resilient—small business communities, in addition to verticals like education, government, and healthcare. As trusted IT advisors, channel partners must be strategic and agile enough to recognize what kinds of solutions their end-customers need to make a phased transition back to the physical office or classroom, and/or to continue to accommodate partially-remote environments. That may require pivoting or augmenting their offerings to meet new needs—and to keep their practices thriving in the process.
Not long ago, business continuity and disaster recovery plans were looked at as almost theoretical needs, to be taken advantage of in the most unlikely of circumstances. If your organization wasn’t located in a flood or hurricane zone, odds were against any disaster-level impact. Therefore, continuity solutions became easy for decision makers to push off until later, sometimes perpetually.
In 2020, we’ve learned better than to view significant market disruption as a far-fetched concept. Organizations both large and small, private, and public, have been asked to transform their workplace and learning models with great rapidity, making a near-instant transition to virtual platforms. Although companies have more time now to migrate back to their physical spaces, their needs have changed drastically in light of social distancing mandates and the heavy bandwidth requirements of hybrid and remote infrastructures.
Providers need to help give their end-customers the best chance to return safely back to their physical operations. From D&H’s perspective, we’ve taken the tact of putting together a full portfolio of business continuity solutions running the gamut from data access and security, remote device management, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, collaboration, UCaaS, desktop hardware, and even PPE solutions; plus supporting training opportunities and resources.
We suggest a structured approach to implementing continuity solutions and strategies for organizations, to help make sure they are not just ready to reopen but safeguarded against major impacts during future crises. A comprehensive plan would include an MSP/VAR checklist documenting their customers’ assets and vendor relationships, effective marketing materials to communicate the value of solutions in key vertical markets, plus turn-key offerings for remote solutions, WiFi optimization, and more. Some suggestions:
- Create a standard task list: Clear-cut, organized documentation of each client’s network is a cornerstone of any continuity plan. An MSP/VAR checklist helps providers create a record of the full range of manufacturers and critical services delivered to each client, which will help in prioritizing the essential network amenities required to continue their operations during a disruptive event. This should encompass everything from everyday tools to essential services, client devices, hardware, softphones, and VoIP equipment.
- Adding PPE solutions: Channel partners can develop a strategy to sell PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) products such as no-contact thermometers, digital pulse oximeters, soap dispensers, hand sanitizer stations, wipes, and “clean kits” as part of an overall business continuity program. This doesn’t need to be a permanent category, however, it’s a viable incremental sales area for the moment. Many organizations will be bound to procure these products for their employees or students, so they may be eager to source them from a trusted partner.
- Remote office solutions: Many households are still adjusting to the increased bandwidth needs of hybrid work and distance learning environments, where users will be depending upon home networks for professional use, their children’s education, and home entertainment. Remote device management, WiFi optimization, collaboration solutions, home network security, and high-performance computing devices all come into play here.
- Education and distance learning: The drive to equip classrooms with remote learning solutions continues to be a challenge for districts, and an opportunity for solutions providers to satisfy this critical need. Much of the K-12 market is still working hard to outfit students at home as incoming classes adjust to changing statuses regarding on-campus and remote learning.
Many organizations have come to realize how imperative it is to have a contingency strategy in case of a major disruption. As a channel, we need to work together to implement effective business continuity plans for these customers. SMBs, educational and government institutions, the channel, and the economy at large can all recover and even thrive if provided with the right solutions, strategies, tools, and resources.
About The Author
Peter DiMarco is Vice President of VAR Sales at D&H Distributing and oversees many of the company’s partner engagement activities. D&H has created a mini-site with resources for providers in the channel to help them deliver comprehensive business continuity offerings at www.dandh.com/Continuity.