For the last 30 years or so, it’s been up to IT and operations to make technology and telecommunications decisions, and there’s no question the traditional channel knows how to sell to the IT department. But it struggles as the bulk of the buying decisions shift from IT to the line of business (LOB) buyer.

Today, 65 percent of all tech decisions are made by business leaders or LOB executives. But perhaps even more surprising—and a little scary—in 29 percent of those cases, this buyer doesn’t even involve internal IT.

“As a business leader, they have to move fast, which means bypassing IT,” McBain explained. “They’re not reaching out to traditional sources.”

LOB executives know their business problems inside and out, and they know exactly the kind of solutions they’re looking for—at least, they think they do. In the age of Google, a quick internet search can return dozens of SaaS applications specifically designed to address LOB pain points. A full 68 percent of business buyers prefer to research solutions on their own, up from 53 percent just two years ago. And in another couple of years? McBain says that number will grow to 80 percent by 2020.

“If you’re a VP of marketing and you’re setting up seven pieces of software to solve for your outcome, you’re buying direct from the OEM.”

In fact, three-quarters of LOB buyers find buying from the web to be more convenient. This number never got above about 30 percent in IT, says McBain. Which begs the question: Is this the end of resale?

The real money to be made in the channel today is downstream, he explains. The average SaaS deal that comprises a business solution has more than $4 of downstream spend attached to it. There’s security, integration, business continuity and a host of other IT services that are incredibly sticky and “go on forever.”

Take change orders, for instance. The volume of change orders that come downstream is upward of 80 percent, in some cases skyrocketing into the triple digits. This is resulting in a new class of partner with expertise and specializations that go beyond even verticalization to put a laser focus on specific services for specific sectors: Business continuity for healthcare, cybersecurity for CPA firms, cloud services for digital agencies.

McBain says these new partners are “hyper-specialized,” and they’re the future of channel partners.

Tune in tomorrow when we dive deeper into hyper-specialization and the skills partners need to succeed in the new channel.