Channels and super-marketplaces are about to explode: Influencer reveals
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November 2, 2020

By Paolo Del Nibletto

Jay McBain, the Principal Analyst – Channels, Partnerships & Alliances at Forrester Research, talks to roughly 500 companies about channel programs every year. If you think that is a lot, it just skims the surface, according to McBain, who has himself transitioned from a Channel Chief for Lenovo and Autotask to an influencer at Forrester Research during his career.

During the Jolera Interview Series, McBain recognizes more than 10,000 companies in the world that run some channel program. There are also approximately 175,000 software companies doing business, of which only 10 percent have a channel program.

If you add in the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and Blockchain, to name a few, then there could be more than 800,000 other companies to add to the channel mix. Of the emerging technology companies, only 10 percent of those organizations are running a channel program.

All this activity leads McBain to one conclusion: “Channels are about to explode.”

According to McBain’s research, the transformation IT vendors and channel partners have gone through in the last 18 months is more than what business has seen in the past 39 years combined.

“Partnerships are changing, the way we go to market is changing, and customer behaviours are changing, the growth of marketplaces and ecosystems are becoming more important,” he added.

This is where the as-a-service market kicks in. Recent data captured from CEOs from several industries help paint a direction for the as-a-service world. McBain says that 76 percent of CEOs tracked in this survey believe their current business model will be unrecognizable in the next five years. The market is moving quickly to subscription and consumption-based models such as Netflix.

“Everything will be as-a-service whether it is driving a car, renting a forklift, or buying paper-clips. You have to be rethinking your business model for as-a-service.”

All this activity in the as-a-service market has led to the creation of super-marketplaces, McBain said.

He added that if there is one trend to focus on for Managed Services Providers (MSP) today, its super-marketplaces because they will impact the channel dramatically.

And most of these super-marketplaces we know already, such as Amazon and Alibaba. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated their relevance in the market, and now we learn from a joint Forrester/McKinsey study that super-marketplaces have grown more in the last three months than during the previous ten years combined.

“In the U.S. alone, about 1/3 of all the dollars in the economy flow through super-marketplaces. We predicted 17 percent of the IT industry would flow through super-marketplaces – that’s $3.6 trillion by 2023. What COVID-19 has done is driven that prediction to next year,” McBain said.

During the interview, McBain provided insights on the trifurcated channel, the lasting impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on IT, and who the winners will be in the age of the super-marketplaces.

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