COVID-19 paves the way for skills gap 2.0

Global partner report reveals that the ongoing pandemic has widened the existing skills gap among channel partners

In its latest report, Coterie, along with its research partner, The University of Huddersfield, has discovered the critical ways that current vendors (and partners) should uplift their partner marketing to ensure the most successful and profitable outcome now and in the future. Coterie gathered these findings by collaborating with 23 high profile organisations to conduct in-depth interviews with a range of senior-level partner marketing professionals.

The ongoing technology skills gap, a staple of the channel sector, looks to have been worsened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced in the report.

Now, as the traditionally people-focused channel market has had to abandon face-to-face interactions, channel partners are witnessing the birth of the skills gap 2.0.

Throughout this report Coterie and The University of Huddersfield have unearthed two critical skills that are lacking in the industry, as we seek out success factors for partner marketing that will impact partners today and over the next three years:

  • The loss of human connection: While deeper personal relationships are valued as highly as they ever were, the reality is that these relationships must now be cultivated virtually – and that many in the channel simply don’t have the skills or knowledge to do so effectively. Not only has this put a strain on existing relationships, but it has also made establishing new partner relationships virtually impossible.
  • A shortage of partner marketing professionals with integrated skills: Digital marketing – including messaging, branding, research skills, and community building – is vital for success in the channel today. Unfortunately, this suite of skills has become a rarity in the industry, which could lead to many partners disengaging with their vendors, or forming stronger relationships with alternative vendors who do display strong marketing. Throughout these interviews, respondents continued to cite a lack of skills and therefore a lack of innovation when it comes to their digital marketing – a challenge that is only exacerbated by a rise in digital fatigue and marketing noise.

Speaking of these findings, Huddersfield Business School Professor Shona Bettany commented,

“The pandemic has undoubtedly acted as a challenge and ultimately forced many companies across the industry spectrum to stop and reconsider, and the findings derived from our research suggest that partner marketing is not exempt from the changes wrought by this historic period.”

Coterie’s managing director, Helen Curtis, added,

“It’s clear from this report that the skills gap, which was already a huge challenge to our industry prior to COVID-19, has only widened over the past 18 months. With this in mind, Coterie is already proactively looking at how we can help tomorrow’s marketers have the skills they need to overcome the challenges they’re currently facing.”

The full ecosystems marketing research report, including additional findings can be downloaded here.

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