It’s fair to say that the last couple of years has been hugely disruptive for businesses everywhere. From COVID-19 to geopolitical unrest, and rising prices to an energy shortage, we face unprecedented challenges every day.
Over the coming 12 months, the analysis and projections for both organizations and individuals need to be guided by the uncertainty of calamities, digital transformation opportunities, and most importantly, the vast opportunities under Sustainability.
Support in uncertain times
The channel has been experiencing supply chain issues since the global health crisis began in 2020, the impact of which is still being felt today. In China, for instance, whenever there’s an outbreak of COVID-19, everything in the area shuts down, leading to delays for some component manufacturers – particularly with regard to the semiconductors and base metals vital to the production of chips.
Closer home, in Kenya, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for timely data and evidence to help monitor and mitigate the social and economic effects of the crisis. A strong impact on the livelihoods of Kenyan households, even though employment and income levels are recovering. The second lockdown resulted in another surge in food insecurity. While access to education worsened again due to renewed school closures, health services remained widely accessible to the population.
These are examples to show how uncertain times can capsize a stable channel and lead to many effects across the board. And this has a knock-on effect. Even the big players are seeing 8 to 10-month delays in delivering products. This can be challenging for channel partners, of course, whose customers are expecting these goods. It means they’re unable to install products and provide the services their customers expect.
Moreover, rising energy prices have added yet another cost to businesses, leading many companies to pause investment. Increasing prices have created lower demand for some products, too, meaning many channel partners will have a high level of stock, which no one is buying.
These supply chain issues are a significant challenge for everyone and, given that the current geopolitical crisis is disrupting supply routes across the globe, they’re likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
One of the effects of such supply chain issues is that it’s becoming harder for channel partners to forecast with any accuracy. Customer projects typically require multiple components. If one of the components is missing, the whole project stalls, and with no clear direction, it’s difficult to advise customers on the expected project completion.
Channel partners look to their vendors for support in times like this. Eaton’s simple, easy-to-manage partner program provides that support – giving partners access to solutions, configurators, and training, as well as lead and demand generation activities – while allowing them to focus more of their time on supporting the needs of their own customers in these uncertain times.
Digital transformation through remote monitoring
Digital transformation is vital to all aspects of business today. Take sustainability, for example. As environmental concerns continue to grow, most organizations want to cut down on travel, to reduce their carbon footprint. Eaton has already taken steps in this direction regarding the provision of backup power, aiming to manage devices from service centers rather than traveling to sites.
To this end, providing futuristic software solutions enabling customers to remotely manage and monitor their assets is key. For instance, by knowing how many UPSs, how old they are, and the quality of batteries, and by using predictive maintenance, customers can understand when a UPS will reach the end of its lifetime.
The remote monitoring solution will also help customers cope with the growing risk of power outages caused by the energy crisis. Effectively, it’s a simple way of alerting an organization when an issue is about to occur, enabling them to manage its power generation and storage systems to avoid any potential downtime.
However, remote monitoring also represents a new cybersecurity threat despite its benefits. The more connected an organization is, the greater hackers can access its network. It is important for companies to invest heavily in cybersecurity services, to support partners and customers.
Opportunities in Sustainability
Sustainability will be an increasingly important focus in the years ahead. To meet ESG goals, many companies will have targets in place to reduce their carbon footprint. There’s also growing investment in renewable energy sources for more sustainable, accessible, and cost-effective power – especially considering rising energy prices. Fortunately, there is already a wealth of government support and funds available to encourage sustainability initiatives, and we can expect to see a growing number of regulations being introduced to further help companies with these.
All of this represents significant opportunities for channel partners. IT will have to manage UPS, energy storage, and assets such as solar panels and EV chargers. By understanding this area of the business, partners can play an important role in supporting their customers’ sustainability efforts, providing them with expert guidance and products needed to better enable this.
We live in challenging times. While some issues look as though they’re likely to remain for some time, it’s possible that by working together vendors like Eaton, their channel partners, and their customers can ride the storm and make the most of whatever uncertainty the future holds.
The author is Parag Mendiratta, the Regional Manager, Eastern Africa – Eaton Electrical Sector