Channel partners are navigating largely unchartered waters.
Thousands of businesses globally continue to urge employees to stay at home, placing enormous pressure on video and conferencing software tools and the channel partners that service them. But the challenge also extends to hardware, as thousands of businesses scramble to purchase laptops, webcams and other necessary products to get their workforce up and running out of the office.
The 102-year-old D&H Distribution has withstood its fair share of global crises. And while the latest COVID-19 pandemic has led to minimal disruption across its distribution chains, according to Tom Guagliardi, D&H’s vice-president, sales and vendor management for D&H Canada, there’s a huge focus on ensuring essential businesses and institutions, like schools and healthcare centres, are properly equipped to ensure employees can fulfill their duties from home.
This is easier said than done, he added, as this level of remote work is foreign territory for many.
“Most people have never worked remotely, so all of a sudden there’s that need to get a laptop or to buy a monitor. We’re experiencing the odd rush but we’ve been handling it quite well up until now,” Guagliardi told the publication.
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But it hasn’t been easy, added Tim Billing, senior vice-president of vendor management and purchasing.
“We’ve been kind of living under a fairly challenging supply environment for a couple of months,” Billing said without getting into specifics. “We are foreseeing forecasting some improvements to the supply chain as many of the factories in China have started to improve capacity again.”
According to IDC, the global smartphone and PC markets will be substantially affected by the virus. Its effects may persist throughout the year depending on the developing situation, and IDC projects that the system manufacturing ecosystem will not return to full health until the middle or end of Q2 2020.
Adding to D&H’s list of challenges is the inability to ship products where they need to go. Thousands of small businesses and retailers have been forced to close their doors to encourage social distancing and help curtain the spread of COVID-19 across North America, forcing D&H to get creative with how products get shipped.
“If we come across a business that’s not in the office and unable to receive products, we’ll ship it directly to the end-users,” Guagliardi explained, emphasizing how they always ensure they’re not interfering with a partner’s business. “It’s just the level of service to make sure that everyone’s being taken care of as fast as possible.”
At the distribution centres themselves – D&H has two in Canada, one in Brampton another in Vancouver – extra measures have been put in place, according to the two executives, to further encourage proper sanitation and social distancing.
Rest of channel community remains vigilant
Websites belonging to Canada’s resellers and distributors almost all contain some kind of COVID-19 action statement posted.
Dozens of software vendors have announced reduced pricing or extended free trials on various collaboration and communications platforms to assist thousands of new remote workers and the company’s employing them. You can find a running list of those here.