As the market settles on a hybrid approach to technology shaped by an edge-to-cloud strategy, opportunities are emerging for channel partners to capitalise across ASEAN.
Whether managing an explosion of data in the enterprise, or helping organisations navigate evolving remote working requirements, the ecosystem is building up capabilities to maximise a sizeable swing in customer behaviour — underpinned by a rise in as-a-service.
“With the drive towards the cloud, partners can help with optimising and modernising data centres and developing cloud strategies that leverage the hybrid cloud,” said Heng Huey Lih, head of Partner Sales across Asia Pacific at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
According to Huey Lih, the rise in digitalisation and a shift from edge technology to the cloud will result in businesses accumulating vast amounts of data irrespective of company size or sector, providing new routes to market for the channel in response.
Specifically, this includes helping customers contextualise data by offering strategic guidance and insights capable of ensuring companies can harness such knowledge to become “more competitive”.
“Partners can also help customers leverage the real-time information collected by devices and sensors at the edge by providing enhanced services and solutions to help businesses transform and grow,” said Huey Lih, when speaking to Channel Asia.
For instance, in the future when industries rely on autonomous vehicles or robotics in automated factories, edge capabilities must operate seamlessly in real-time with high levels of security to ensure efficiency and performance.
As noted by Huey Lih, this in turn presents an opportunity for partners to offer expertise to capture and rapidly analyse mission-critical information to allow businesses to flourish.
Rise in hybrid working models
In tandem with the booming demand for digital transformation in the ASEAN region, the mass adoption of hybrid working has also led to a bounty of business opportunities for partners.
Many technology providers have been banking on the trend since the pandemic and even as countries gradually reopen and attempt to return to “normalcy”, hybrid working seems likely to stay.
“These hybrid workplaces have exploded alongside accelerated digitalisation efforts,” Huey Lih added. “As organisations adopt digital transformation and transform business processes to cope with new market dynamics, the shift to the cloud has also allowed them the flexibility and agility to deploy and support a distributed workforce.”
Once again, such a shift has resulted in critical company data being spread across multiple locations due to distributed workforces and a heavy reliance on virtual collaboration tools. This can “multiply the chances” of data breaches and compliance risks, which is why Huey Lih foresees a dramatic increase in cyber security spending in 2022.
Such a forecast plays out in the numbers with organisational spend on cyber security solutions and services increasing 14 per cent year-on-year to US$23.1 billion across the region during 2021, according to IDC.
With an expected total addressable market of US$39 billion by 2025 in Asia, key drivers for growth include accelerated digitalisation, cloud migration, security transformation and increased cyber attacks.
Within the context of digital transformation and data centre modernisation, Huey Lih predicts that business models will evolve in parallel with the rise of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) expected to reach a “tipping point” in ASEAN.
This shift was a motivating force for HPE to offer its entire portfolio via subscription by the end of 2022, which the vendor remains on track to achieve.
“We are seeing more and more customers wanting to get the cloud experience for their workloads from compute, storage and networking to SAP, virtual desktop infrastructure and high-performance computing without sacrificing privacy or control,” she said.
Huey Lih added that these consumption-based, choice-centric business models are the future of IT services and products — as seen in organisations seeking out initiatives that offer “scalable capacity” and flexible or pay-per-use models.
“With the rise of the hybrid workforce and increasing adoption of cloud-based services, partners have many opportunities to insert themselves into customer conversations as empowered and trusted advisors to offer differentiated and competitive value propositions that drive business growth and outcomes,” she said.
While organisations may be at different stages of the transformation journey, Huey Lih believes that the key to a strong strategy is a partners’ ability to work closely with customers and match their deep insights with end-user business requirements.
“Partnering is in our DNA and ‘partnership first’ has been a core company value for over 80 years,” she said. “Our partners are the driving force behind HPE’s edge-to-cloud vision and we will continue to put our partners in the pole position and do all we can to help them win.”
Of note to the channel, building out managed services capabilities in response to evolving customer buying patterns ranks as a leading priority for partners across Southeast Asia, as the ecosystem embraces subscription-based selling.
According to EDGE Research — commissioned by Channel Asia and delivered in partnership with Tech Research Asia — growing annuity revenue currently stands tall as the no.1 strategic objective for value-added resellers, system integrators and solution providers in the region.
Within this context, 61 per cent of partners ASEAN-wide are undergoing a “significant change” in how business operations are run, with 71 per cent developing a new strategic plan as a direct result of COVID-19.
“Partners in ASEAN understand the need for urgent change,” observed Mark Iles, executive analyst of Tech Research Asia. “Building annuity revenues is a positive step forward and means partners don’t have to press the reset button every year and take revenue back to zero.”
Ran in conjunction with Channel Asia and Tech Research Asia, the in-depth research surveyed more than 100 partners based in ASEAN, spanning the key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Aligned to Huey Lih’s observations, findings offer the clearest and most objective indication yet that technology providers are finally overhauling business models to maximise OPEX investments, following years of market intention rather than decisive action.
Beyond growing annuity revenue, key focus areas in order of importance include attracting new customers, enhancing end-user experience levels and building new revenue streams and products.
“Value-add is a moving target,” Iles cautioned. “But increased focus on customer experience is a welcome addition to partner priority lists, especially given the need for reinvention in a digital and remote world. Likewise, customers are seeking new solutions and different ways of innovating meaning partners have to respond with new products and offerings.”