CompTIA Report Announces ‘State of the Channel 2024’ Report

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., March 12, 2024 – Information technology (IT) channel companies are banking on the complexity of tech and generative artificial intelligence (AI) products and services to grow their business, according to a new report from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the IT industry and workforce.

CompTIA’s “State of the Channel 2024” reveals that companies in three of the six geographic regions surveyed see their top growth opportunity in the increasing complexity of technology, anticipating it will drive customer demand for tech expertise. The other half see the availability of generative AI tools and solutions to sell as the top driver, with 43% of channel companies planning to sell AI-related software and services this year. 

“Companies feel that they are finally clear of pandemic-induced disruptions and have more breathing room to think about growth, investment and innovation,” said Carolyn April, vice president, industry research, CompTIA. “The biggest piece of business they’re focused on is IT services.”

Global technology spending is forecast to grow by 6.8% in 2024, including an 8.7% jump in spending on IT services – to $1.5 trillion. That would catapult the services category to top of the spending list for the first time, eclipsing even software sales. 

“As more customers conduct direct transactions for goods over online marketplaces and vendor e-commerce storefronts, the real play for many channel companies is in the services they can sell,” April said. “From global systems integrators to managed services providers, IT consultants, solution providers and others, a greater percentage of companies are garnering a large chunk of revenue from services.”

In CompTIA’s report, nearly three-fourths of channel firms identify themselves as sellers of technology services (38%) or sellers of business solutions featuring technology (35%). The shift in focus from products to services is accompanied by a change in what channel businesses say is important to them. They’re more interested in building their own brand and reputation and less focused on highlighting the product vendors they partner with. 

One outcome of this is a reduction in the number of vendors channel companies partner with. Since CompTIA began tracking partner program participation 11 years ago, channel firms were typically involved in between 5 and 14 vendor partner programs. This year the largest portion of respondents say they participate in between 1 to 9 programs, with a sharp year-over-year increase in those enrolled in just 1 to 4 programs. Firms that don’t participate in any increased from 7% to 11% year over year.

There is a degree of optimism among a majority of channel companies. About six in 10 firms said their business is in better shape today than two years ago, while 30% said business is the same as two years ago. At the same time, a fair percentage of respondents acknowledge they need to improve their business fluency. Less than 4 in 10 U.S. channel firms describe their company as “expert” in business acumen (finance literacy, accounting, legal, budgeting, etc.), while more than half said they need to improve in various areas. Nearly half cited training and certification from an industry association as the main remedy to improve business skills, followed by peer-to-peer networking and vendor-based training.

CompTIA’s “State of the Channel 2024” report is based on a survey of 1,042 channel company executives and owners conducted in January 2024.