Kathy Quashie, head of indirect business at Vodafone, talked to Comms Business Magazine about diversity in the channel and the fundamental role partners will play in realising the potential of 5G.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Are channel partners embracing 5G? How can they take their customers with them on the journey towards 5G?
Kathy Quashie (KQ): “In 2021, channel partners will have a fundamental role to play in helping more businesses understand the many benefits of 5G in enterprise. To address soaring expectations around fast connectivity, channel partners need to be demonstrating how organisations can leverage it to deliver real impact – from driving efficiencies to improving customer service – while also reminding people that there are simple ways to get started.
“Channel partners will be able to offer customers new and wide-reaching solutions with real use cases to back up their vision. The evidence is mounting that 5G will enable businesses, from factories to test and research centres, to work more quickly and efficiently, while increasing productivity and reducing costs. There’s excitement in our industry, and in the many vertical sectors that we serve.
“It is important for customers to be working with a partner who can adapt to the changing landscape, and help them on the 5G journey – often by starting small to show the reality, and then using market-leading early deployments to highlight the potential for their sector. Ultimately, it will be those channel partners who are quick to embrace 5G that will gain the competitive advantage next year.”
CBM: Is the channel approaching IoT opportunities in the right way?
KQ: “Those who believe IoT is a long-term investment with no immediate impact are mistaken. Today, businesses are going through a very difficult period. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to look at the way they operate, and in many cases, reassess how they spend money.
“IoT offers insights that can help businesses make better decisions, launch new products and services, and introduce new processes. This is obviously useful for the future, but the benefits can be felt almost immediately. It could really help businesses survive and re-build.
“The myth that the benefits of IoT are long term will be busted next year. The truth is that IoT is a powerful tool to help companies transform the way they do business now. I believe the channel will see a surge in this technology and we will see the true potential of IoT in 2021.”
CBM: What movements have you seen in terms of diversity and inclusion?
KQ: “This year, movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter brought to the fore the vital importance of diverse thought and equal representation among the corporate world and wider society. Many companies across professional sectors have since been reconsidering how they nurture talent from all walks of life, so that they can benefit from everyone’s varying experiences and insights.
“While the tech sector has already made great strides in recent years to become more diverse, there is still undoubtedly progress to be realised – particularly so in the channel.
“This will by no means be a quick fix – encouraging a far wider pool of people into the industry needs to be built alongside a cultural shift within business and society. There is still a lack of understanding of what a career in the channel actually entails, and it is incumbent upon all of us working in the sector to inform young people about the many interesting opportunities it presents.
“There has been a lot of talk about change this year, but what we all want to see now is this turning into tangible action. The next 6-12 months will be a crucial time for the channel – and businesses and society more broadly – to enact the great change they’ve been talking about for some time now. I would like to see a concerted effort among all stakeholders in our industry to keep moving forward, offering new opportunities to people from different backgrounds.”