Sage: Upskilled Workforce is Channel’s No. 1 Investment Priority

A study by Sage, a leader in accounting, financial, HR and payroll technology for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), shows the channel ecosystem increasingly is prioritizing technical expertise in hiring and investment.

The study shows challenges in finding and keeping talent are hitting the channel sector, with U.S. resellers mostly feeling the pinch. Half of all U.S. respondents in the process of recruiting noted difficulty finding skilled management-level staff, while 49 percent cited difficulty attracting skilled entry-level talent. Competition was slightly tapered within the United Kingdom, with 46 percent and 40 percent struggling to source these levels.

Over half of all U.S. resellers cited cloud computing (53 percent) and data engineering (52 percent) as required skillsets, while under half listed cyber security skills (48 percent), coding (45 percent) and AI/ML development (44 percent) as desired skills.

By contrast in the United Kingdom, 39 percent of resellers placed cloud computing and cyber security skills as desired traits for new talent, while 35 percent are looking for coding skills. Interestingly, the external business climate may have forced U.K. reselling companies to focus more on the running of their business, with 36 percent recruiting for essential business roles.

“Customers are looking to their channel partners to help make digitalization a reality as they embrace new revenue streams and invest with an eye on the future. They are being asked to provide expertise in the most complex technological areas – from protection against the latest cyber threats to the enablement of AI and ML,” said Aziz Benmalek, president, Sage North America and EVP Global Partner Organization. “This requires the channel workforce to shift – at Sage we are prioritizing providing our channel partners with the tools and technology tools needed to thrive.”

Over the past 18 months, 39 percent of the 1,000 channel resellers surveyed have invested resources to upskill their workforce technically, while 36 percent adopted greater eCommerce functionality during the same period.

This investment in technology is unlikely to slow. Resellers surveyed predicted that by 2024, services requiring more specific technical expertise such as cybersecurity service provision (40 percent), SaaS application management (38 percent) and public cloud consumption (33 percent) will be among those most demanded by clients.

Almost one-third (30 percent) believe customers will be looking to increase the efficiency, intelligence and automation of their business processes or operations (BPO).

When predicting areas of investment for their customers over the coming months, almost half (49 percent) believe customers will look to grow their data center management revenue, while 40 percent have a sharp focus on generating revenues from data analytics and AI software enablement.