Interviews

Companies That Do Not Address the Skills Gap Will Struggle

Karim Refas, the Regional Channel Manager at Eaton, speaks to Arabian Reseller about the importance of channel partner training programs in the region.

What is the importance of channel partner training programs?
Training programs, like any other industry, are imperative for development and progression for organisations. They add value and knowledge to an organization. Certifications make the end-users confident in the capabilities of channel partners and this endorsement translates into more business opportunities for them.

What advantages can certify channel partners enjoy?
The era of being a simple IT solutions resellers are long gone and the channel is expected to provide more expertise than ever before to evolve and grow. Ideally, a partner should specialise in one vertical and be able to target these customers with a more integrated end-to-end solution that perfectly fits the business needs of this market segment. Education is still the cornerstone of the partner enablement process, but vendors should make it attractive and flexible for partners so they can include this in their agenda smoothly.

Does your company offer any channel partner training program?
Vendors such as Eaton have accompanied partners for several decades to help them develop the right skills so that they are adequately prepared for the challenging market. Partner enablement is one of the core elements of our Power Advantage Partner Program.

The programme is designed to help solution providers grow their business through power quality and UPS solutions. The partner programme, which is a phased approach, is a multi-tiered scheme comprising Authorised and Premium partner tiers and is based on the commitment to Eaton and value delivered, with focus on solution selling with dedicated training and partner certifications.

Eaton has also designed a free online training portal that is flexible for users and consists of many modules that last from five minutes to 15 minutes. This way trainees can get certified at their own convenience with engaging content that is not time-consuming. We also hold regular seminars across the region where our experts provide concentrated training sessions.

According to you, is there a talent shortage? If yes, how can channel training programs address that?
Eaton is investing heavily in resources and time with our channel partners by adding value so that they are prepared and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. With the IT environment becoming more complex and challenging, Partners who make this investment become trusted advisors and recognized by the vendors. This endorsement, therefore, translates into more business opportunities.

How can channel partner training instil long-term business growth and generate revenue for firms?
IT  is one of the fastest-growing industries in the region, making it essential for the channel to adapt to new trends and demands. The traditional business model is becoming more and more challenging in the current climate for partners to generate profits; therefore it is imperative for them to change with the times.

The question of adapting to new trends such as Cloud or the growth of managed services and recurring revenue business models is essential for the survival of these companies. Anyone not willing to embrace the changes and addresses the skills gaps will struggle.

We have launched additional initiatives to make education the top priority of our channel initiatives. We will continue to advocate for our partners to adopt these new technologies, and we even are recently incentivizing our partners to train their resources. We believe it is and will always be our shared responsibility as well to address this gap.

What sort of IT skills are currently in demand in the regional channel landscape?
The commoditization of the hardware sales makes the Software-related innovations the most critical element of differentiation. Also, elements such as Back-Up Power and Power Management solutions are becoming increasingly dependent on Software integration capabilities. Therefore the understanding of SaaS business models and implementation are in high-demand.

How can vendors and channel partners ensure that the skills development agenda is on top of the list and is continually allowed to evolve?
Eaton spends a lot of resources and investments towards spreading knowledge about the new technologies we develop. We believe this is part of our duties as a market leader to guide the channel towards adopting these. We regularly host classroom training in our regional Headquarter in Jebel Ali.

Companies in this industry need to invest in training programs and developments so that they stay abreast with new developments and technologies. Participating in programs such as the Eaton Power Advantage Program will also help them learn and develop.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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