‘Normal’ has no place in the IT channel: enablement does

Who else finds the continuous use of references to ‘new normal’ tedious?  Personally, I dislike the term and can’t see its relevance to Channel led business.  Just like the term ‘average’, there is simply no such thing in the vibrant, ever changing world of IT.  Even talking about ‘the Channel’ as a catch all for the myriad of players, aggregated as a single entity, seems outmoded, although at least it’s recognisable.

The Channel is formidable in adapting, reinventing and defying convention.  The best players have prospered; whilst the weak and infirm, wither and drift away.  It’s a super accelerated Darwinian model of survival of the fittest, happening every single day.  Newcomers arrive, full of disruptive energy and ambition. They spot gaps, fill them, make a lot of noise and often cause discomfort to the veterans.  Some flourish to adolescence, other expire before their first birthday.  The veterans look on, temporarily welcoming the initial burst of disruption, before competing hard or, occasionally, acquiring the newcomer: survival of the fittest.

My theory is that this Darwinian concept is dependent on the continuous presence of what is now termed ‘enablement’.  Its fascinated me for years.  The purest definition of enablement is ‘the action of giving someone the authority or means to do something’.  In all reality, it’s just the latter four words that suffice – when it comes to Channel enablement, it’s all about the means.

Of course, those means could be drawn from a list of hundreds, likely thousands, of elements. However, they are unified by being ‘new, better or different’ to what went before.  That is why the Channel thrives and that is why customers return.  It’s also why vendors of all flavours embrace it, and why the absence of an enablement strategy is the fastest path to extinction.  

The pursuit of the status quo, or ‘like last year but slightly better’ is not a business plan.  Just as ‘blind optimism’ and ‘wishful thinking’ have no place, neither does ‘more of the same’.  Enablement, therefore, is not optional.  It’s either in your company DNA, or your extinct.  Survival of the fittest, through the continuous pursuit of enablement, distinguishes those who prosper from those that wither.

Enablement does not have a part number or bar code.  It doesn’t have an off the shelf definition nor is it something you’re able to cut and paste.  It’s similar to DNA in that it’s completely unique.  Enablement will vary greatly depending on all the variables of company size, ambition, human talent, need for speed, market focus, intensity of competition as well as dozens of other factors.  

Enablement is not a line in a business plan, dusted off for quarterly reviews.   Enablement is an attitude embedded in your values.  It’s the means by which your business prospers, attracts and retains talent, generates customer loyalty and invokes envy from peers.  Enablement impacts every function of your business from Ops to Sales, from Finance to Customer Services from Marketing to PR.  A modest contribution of ‘new, better, different’ from every function and every person, aggregates to significant forward momentum and, ultimately, ’survival of the fittest’.

There is no such thing as ‘new normal’ in the Channel.  When every function has enablement goals, set with demonstrable outcomes, reviewed regularly and culturally embedded, that for me, is normal.  It’s a risk to contrast the great insights of Charles Darwin to that of the IT Channel, however I suggest the thread of enablement and its role in our prosperity is valid.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” 
Charles Darwin.

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