Channel Automation: Risk or Opportunity?

In an April 2018 report, Strategies for Engaging Automated Digital Sales (Strategies), the 2112 Group cites Forrester Research findings indicating as much as 40 percent of B2B transactions come through digital sales channels, and the percentage is rising. Automated digital sales channels are also impacting the technology sector, with the 2112 Channel Chief Outlook: 2018 report showing 11 percent of channel executives believe online marketplaces will drive the bulk of indirect revenue by 2023.

Not surprisingly, the trend is facing some resistance from vendors fearing it will endanger channel partner loyalty or diminish their control over customers. The 2112 Group validates these concerns in Strategies. It acknowledges that although automated digital sales are not the primary cause of channel churn (think cloud and shift to recurring revenue and LOB sales), the trend could disrupt an estimated 40 to 60 percent of channel partners within three to five years.

But the outlook for a channel shifting to automated digital sales isn’t all gloomy. As The 2112 Group suggests in Strategies, the automated digital sales model is a response to a new reality where not all products need a human touch to reach customers.

Automated Digital Sales Benefits

To systems integrators, MSPs, ISVs and specialty resellers that approach automated digital sales with a well-planned strategy, it’s an opportunity to walk away from the distractions of selling products and services that don’t align with their core value proposition. In makes sense that the benefits of automated digital sales will trickle up to vendors that can support their channel partners’ initiatives to adapt.

Automated digital sales offers a number of other advantages over traditional channel routes to market, the 2112 Group suggests. These include opportunities to:

  • Deliver more exceptional customer experiences to decision makers seeking self-service and digital buying conveniences
  • Reach non-core buyers of technology such as cloud-based services by tapping into the shadow IT market, where 40 percent of spending comes from outside the IT department
  • Lower sales and fulfillment costs, driving higher margins and better prices for customers
  • Achieve more control over pricing by eliminating opportunities for negotiation
  • Enhance brand image by improving price consistency and transparency for customers
  • More easily identify upsell and recurring sales opportunities by automatically capturing data delivering insights into customer buying habits and budget constraints

Where is Your Company on the Path to the Automated Digital Sales Future?

With the 2112 Group reporting that four out of five business buyers say they want enterprise purchase processes similar to consumer experiences, it’s time to accept the inevitability of automated digital sales, and start planning for the future.

How do you perceive automated digital sales? Do you consider the trend a risk or opportunity? Where is your company on the journey to automated digital sales? Channel Marketing Journal values your opinion and observations. Contact us to share your thoughts.


Strategies For Engaging Automated Digital Sales Channels, A 2112 Futurecasting Strategy Guide, April 2018

2112 Channel Chief Outlook 2018: Sales Forecasts & Operational Insights of Global Channel Leaders, February 2018