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Weekly crisis report March 25: testing times

As part of a summary of what we have heard this week, it is clear that nobody has a crystal ball and that the crisis has come of the blue. Talking to channels and vendors it is clear that most are feeling very uncertain – unwilling to go into survival mode, but also unable to bet the business on an early recovery, writes John Garratt, Editor of IT Europa.

One obvious impact is that, with everyone working from home, sales of webcams, displays – even laptops have gone through the roof. A lot of channels have been involved in getting these to work and work securely; an upsurge in cybercrime shows that the bad guys have seen an opportunity to extract corporate data from devices of all types. There is a danger that rushed remote working leaves security on the side-lines and exposes valuable assets.

Talking to Webroot this week also revealed a huge upsurge in attacks and a further twist to an already fast-changing security business for channels and MSPs in particular. Security will increasingly be about education and cyber-resilience – recovery and restitution.

Managing a way through this will take skill, and unfortunately a lot of experience has left the senior management teams recently. As US researcher TBR notes, there were a large number of C-level changes at the largest IT services vendors and consulting firms, as well as their technology partners in 2019. Those leaders will be tested in the coming months, and TBR anticipated more positive than negative reviews. More significantly for the long-term business impacts will be the performance of those leaders at the team and business group level, it says, the equivalent of squad leaders and company commanders in a military organization. Adjusting to COVID-19 safety measures; managing people remotely; delivering to clients and managing their expectations, particularly in a tough economy; and continuing to lead — those will be massive challenges for team leaders.

Everyone wants to know when and how we get back to “normal” – talking with Johan Pellicaan, Scale Computing Vice President & Managing Director EMEA was encouraging. He drew strength from reports that component manufacturing in China was back up to 80% of previous levels. Yes, there will be impacts on supply chains, yes, prices of flash and DRAM may rise 5%-10% in the next quarter, and a global recession will put a strain on customer IT investments, but recovery is possible, perhaps just not for all the resellers, channels and vendors and their customer relationships.

It will certainly be a different business on the other side of this.