New Canalys channel partner poll, commissioned by Citrix, cites high revenue and profit confidence amongst Northern European partners

Our partners are our life blood. When we talk about #CitrixPartnerLove, we really mean it. So, as our Partner Accelerator event takes place in London today and across Northern Europe in March, I wanted to share some new research from technology market analyst firm Canalys.

We thought it was really important to actually find out the key trends and growth opportunities for our partners, rather than just make assumptions. The research polled 267 Citrix and Candefero partners across Northern Europe, including responses from partners in the UK and Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The research examined the state of play in the channel industry, to gain better understanding of growth opportunities and focus areas this year.

So, with that, here are the headlines: digital transformation is high on the agenda. The majority of partners (71%) believe they are in a state of transformation, with nearly half (45%) admitting to rapidly revamping their businesses to take account of industry change.

Despite some turbulent market conditions and macro-economic factors, eighty-eight per cent of partners expect 2017 revenues to grow compared with last year. Eighty-four per cent forecast profit growth in the same period as well. Nearly one in three partners (31%) have even predicted over 20% revenue growth of year-on-year, with a further fifth (21%) believing profit margins will reach similar heights.

Cloud driving 2017 revenue

Most interestingly, and pertinent to our own cloud-first strategy: the channel has projected a strong shift to cloud revenues this year, with the majority of partners (71%) expecting to see this account for at least 10% of revenues. This is compared with 60% of partners who stated cloud revenues drove under 10% of earnings last year. Further, there is expectation that cloud revenue is likely to double: 38% of partners stated cloud would account for over 20% of business in 2017 – compared to only 17% of partners in 2016.

The delivery of cloud or hosted cloud services and reselling third-party or hosted cloud services were also both earmarked as ‘important’ business drivers in 2017 by nearly half of channel partners (48% and 42%, respectively). While nearly two in three partners (59%) also acknowledged reselling on-premises hardware and software as a remaining driver of growth, the IT industry appears to be reaching a watershed moment for the sale of cloud services.

New technologies such as IoT dividing the channel

New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are disrupting industries across a multitude of sectors, yet channel partners are divided on how much they’re set to drive revenue growth for 2017. For example, just over half (51%) of partners cited the IoT as ‘important’ for driving revenues, with 37% stating it ‘won’t be important’ and over one in ten (12%) admitting they won’t sell it at all this year.

Alongside this, nearly one in three (30%) partners believe Big Data revenue will grow by less than 10%, yet cloud application revenue and digital transformation projects are both forecast to grow in revenue by over 20% (according to 30% and 26% of partners, respectively).

Cybersecurity set to drive further customer spending

The vast majority (92%) of channel partners expect their customers to increase their cyber-security spends in 2017, cloud growth marked as the second largest driver of spending behind cyber-crime. Increased mobility and changing governance and regulation were also cited as the key drivers.

It’s clear that the IT industry is facing one of the largest periods of change since its inception, with new and innovative technologies disrupting the bigger players and driving increased customer churn. Despite this challenge, channel partners are forecasting a year of significant growth, with the cloud earmarked as a driver of such change.

The message is clear when it comes to the delivery of cloud services. The time for action is now, and only by working with the right vendors can partners truly capitalise on this opportunity. The proof is very much in the data, and our own channel partners are seeing a demand for cloud from their customers – meaning we really are about to enter the cloud-era.

Here’s to a fantastic Partner Accelerator event series across Northern Europe – and another year full of #CitrixPartnerLove.