John Guido | December 8, 2020

Image of 2020 changing to 2021, looking at channel predictions and preparing for the upcoming year

2020 has been a rollercoaster, with so many noteworthy highs and (low) lows. While the challenges of the year are undeniable, it is often equally true that from adversity spring creativity and growth. 

The pace of technology has not slowed during the pandemic; in fact, it is hurtling forward as customer demands, that were already continually shifting, evolve with our new normal.  The added complexity of working remote and communicating 24/7 with the need to access key business operational capabilities in a variety of ways have all added pressure onto IT departments and companies to adapt. 

The need for additional flexibility and being able to pivot, often multiple times, is the new normal. Because of this, and the heterogeneous nature of technology today, no company can be all things to everyone. This means that partner-to-partner (P2P) engagements are on the rise. 

Jay McBain, Principal Analyst at Forrester observed:

With over 75% of world trade flowing indirectly, there has been an influx of investment in and attention on indirect sales [via ecosystems] by firms in all industries.1 In fact, 50% of companies say they’re using channel software for indirect sales.”2

Because of this, and COVID accelerating the demand for automation and cloud-based offerings, investment in and utilization of ecosystem services and tech has been increasing as well. This is leading firms who haven’t yet implemented an ecosystem approach to look to do so, and firms who have created partner ecosystems to reevaluate and improve their channel programs. 

How Did P2P Ecosystems Fare in 2020?

IDC predicts that

“By 2022, 30% of all partners and 80% of high growth partners will invest in a talent program to address critical skill gaps, and 35% of large enterprises will create formal ecosystem partnerships with tech providers blurring the lines between what is considered customer and what is considered a partner. Marketplaces without a proactive, valued partner ecosystem in place by this time will fail.”3

Businesses have been steadily recognizing that in order to build resilience in these difficult times, ecosystems are absolutely critical. Not only do they offer firms the ability to create holistic solutions for customers, they also provide a strategic advantage. Channel executives have become part of senior leadership as IT firms recognize how partnerships can increase revenues, manage risk, and drive forward new solutions. 

2020 Channel Trends Revisited

Some of the most impactful trends affecting the channel this year include:

  • COVID-19. We know this is the most obvious one, but you can’t have a retrospective on 2020 without it. COVID accelerated trends that were already taking place – like the need to reevaluate and improve cybersecurity infrastructure as we all moved to work from home, or increasing the adoption of subscription payment models – and also created new opportunities. For instance, because project-based work took a hit, firms were granted the time to line up resources for future opportunities, shifting P2P engagements from opportunistic to strategic. The impact of the pandemic on the channel cannot be understated. Expanding on that thought, Jay McBain stated:

“For the first time in the technology channel’s 39 year history, we had a significant difference between low performing categories (computer infrastructure down 17%, telco down 16%, system integration and tech consulting down 15%) while top performing categories were growing significantly (Azure 48%, GCP 45%, SaaS up 30%, etc.).” 

  • Adoption: Adoption of P2P ecosystems used to pose a major challenge to solution providers. Firms would commit to implementing a channel ecosystem, then without anyone to manage it, it would ultimately fail to provide value, and the initiative would be cancelled. The adoption of partner ecosystems is on the rise as more firms recognize the value they can provide. However to realize the full potential ecosystems can offer and really see return on the investment into partnering, firms need to dedicate someone to oversee the partner-to-partner engagement approach. In many cases and depending on the firm, this can be their services delivery manager or other individual responsible for filling skill gaps. Jay continued:

“Upwards of 80% of partnerships and alliances fail to produce a positive return. Ecosystems run the same risk unless planned, mapped, managed, and measured effectively. P2P collaboration is one of the key elements of an ecosystem that will decide winners and losers over the next decade.”

How to Leverage a P2P Ecosystem for Your Business in 2021

Looking Ahead to 2021

In order to start strongly in 2021, we offer the following suggestions based on the trends we’ve observed this year and predictions for next year:

  • Solution providers connect the dots between disparate technology stacks to deliver on complex IT projects for clients. Solution providers should create partnerships with firms that support not only tech stack and service compatibility, but also culture fits.
  • In order to streamline the P2P adoption process, we suggest that firms install an orchestrator (or multiple if needed). An orchestrator is a dedicated manager for all P2P initiatives and will guarantee not only adoption, but also maximum ROI from partnerships. This will ultimately help you align resources and programs to work together moving forward.
  • There are many steps that follow a new partnership forming. Multiply that by the many partnerships in your ecosystem, and it can quickly become unmanageable. Keeping track of everything to set yourself up for success should be done with a trustworthy  platform that provides the needed automation.
  • Per Jay McBain: “Subscription/consumption models will be key in 2021, with IBM, Dell, Cisco, and HPE going all-in in 2020. Marketplaces will benefit from this trend significantly as 73% of buyers already prefer it and, due to COVID, saw more growth in 3 months than the previous 10 years combined. The new B2B tech buyer presents another major trend for 2021.”

If your company has not yet formed a P2P ecosystem, here are a few tips on how to get started:

  • Identify the “Why”

Firstly, you need to identify why you want to create an alliance. Do you need to fill a skill gap? Has recent market research identified a new need for your company? Do you want to be able to offer a more comprehensive solution for your clients? Do you want to partner vs. build your own bench in a key technology segment? Do you plan to employ it for business development? It’s important to identify exactly why you are looking to create an alliance.

  • Set Goals

Once you have identified the “why,” it’s time to think about what you hope to achieve with a P2P alliance. Are you trying to diversify your revenue streams? Enhance your customers’ cybersecurity? Introduce blockchain technology to your client to streamline supply chain tracking? The opportunities are endless. Really think about how a partner can help to achieve the goals and visions for your company – this will assist in determining which type of partner to work with.

  • Start Partnering

It is important to complete the first two steps in order to successfully know the types of firms your company wants to establish an alliance with. The natural next step is to start building relationships with partners. Building a comprehensive partner ecosystem will ensure that you don’t have to make sudden pivots to fill urgent skill gaps, and that you will have partners that you trust. Planning ahead in this way will enable you to have resources allocated to ramp up quickly when opportunities arise. However, vetting partners ad hoc can use a lot of resources and lead to inconsistent results. How do you reach out? That’s where the P2P Global marketplace comes in.

Start Building Your Ecosystem with a Free 30-Day Trial

How P2P Global Can Help

Here at P2P Global, we remove the biggest obstacles preventing IT solutions providers from building a robust partner ecosystem: time, money, and concern about trustworthiness. Our platform enables you to create and respond to opportunities, and matches up with qualified partners securely and easily. This builds member trust and confidence, and ensures that each matched firm meets the criteria needed. It also allows all involved parties to build a business development plan together.  

Some pro tips about the P2P Global platform that will enable you to build strong alliances with top tier firms:

  • All of our members are experts in their field, so you can trust that you are partnering with a highly qualified professional solution provider who will bring authoritative excellence to your project. 
  • Worried about finding a trustworthy partner who you can rely on to deliver? That’s why we implemented a partnering agreement. It guarantees legal compliance and ensures that you can enter into a partnership with confidence. 
  • Completing your profile and keeping it accurate and up-to-date is the best way to ensure you get even better matches, whether you’re creating or responding to opportunities.

Click Here for More P2P Strategy Pro Tips

Who Can Benefit From P2P Global?

We have designed our platform to be utilized by all IT solution providers. We have collated the skills of our members into eight primary categories, from DevOps to Data, Cloud Services to Application Development. Our members provide comprehensive solutions in areas such as data and analytics, security, commerce and analytics. We don’t just list our member’s skills, however. We track them, and take a hard look at our data to ensure we can confidently match our clients to the right partners.

With numerous top tier members representing those primary skill categories and all of their associated subcategories, we have it all covered. Use P2P Global to showcase your skills, certifications, unique offerings, and testimonials – or list those same skills and certifications as needed to be matched with a firm for an upcoming opportunity that meets those requirements. If you can identify an IT need in your business or want to provide a solution to another business’ need, P2P Global can help.

Planning For The Year Ahead

This year has been a time of uncertainty, stress, and change for many. The businesses that have thrived during 2020 are ones which utilize agile principles, who are constantly striving to see how technology can best serve them.  P2P Global can help our clients do this by helping to forge successful partnerships with other forward-thinking members. Now, more than ever, it is impossible to succeed alone. Learn more about how we can help you to build strategic partnerships and elevate your business at

Schedule a Demo & Learn How P2P Global Can Help Your Firm in 2021