2021 IT supply shortage: What you need to know

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2021 IT supply shortage: What you need to know

Resellers should be keeping level heads in the face of hardware shortages causing concern throughout the channel, several leaders recently told CRN.

They advised that planning and strategy would be the key to getting through the next months with minimum disruption.

Distributors and vendors have, for the most part, been proactive in letting resellers know when their orders may be impacted.

Westcon sent a statement to its resellers on March 1 stating, “we have identified impacted vendors and products, and we are working in close partnership with these vendors to minimise the impacts of the production delays on our partners.”

Responding to CRN’s request for comment, managing director Phil Cameron and APAC supply chain director John Astuy explained that they were seeing shortages in “a very wide range of technologies, including hardware products in the networking, communications, datacentre and security categories.” 

They added that they were working with transport partners, continually reviewing the supply chain, and had elevated stock levels based on extended lead times.

Similarly, Dicker Data marketing and strategy general manager Ben Johnson told CRN, “We’ve been proactively monitoring the situation and have been working with our vendors to secure our unfair share of the available inventory to ensure there are no disruptions to our partners.”

They all highlighted the importance of letting them know any and all hardware needs you might have as far in advance as possible.

Although there has been plenty of discussion about the issues around a lack of semiconductors, the shortage seems to be going beyond chip-reliant products into almost every category.

CRN Fast50 2020 No. 10 Eaglecrest Technologies operates out of Launceston and serves customers from the SMB market up to enterprise and government. The company's chief executive David Pretorius highlighted two main reasons for the challenges the industry is seeing: one, tech manufacturers are still way behind due to the disruption that lockdowns caused this time last year, and two, the large container shortage in China that is driving up shipping prices and causing issues across all logistics worldwide.

Ben Johnson seconded manufacturing delays being a contributor and added, “COVID caused a significant surge in demand for a whole range of IT products. That unnatural spike in demand is now being felt as manufacturers are working to keep up with the sustained demand for products that support remote work and other IT solutions.”

Several reseller leaders who spoke with CRN advised that planning and strategy would be the key to getting through the next months with minimum disruption.

As TechFlow director Shah Hardik noted, panic buying is not a good solution to a problem that may continue for months or even into 2022.

Hardik, Pretorius, and Layer 8 Networks director Ben Brockliss all gave the same piece of advice for resellers as they navigate what’s to come: plan thoroughly and be adaptable.

Layer 8 account manager Rory Stewart expanded on what this meant for him and his team on the ground.

“We've been able to migrate and use this to our advantage as well. So we're seeing a lot more stack opportunities pop up. When we're implementing a new phone system, we're very upfront in saying, ‘we're not going to get your phone for maybe 30 days, and even then it’s not a dead-set ETA’, and customers are adapting and they're opting for more soft phone clients.”

With a major shift to digitisation happening right now, it could be an ideal time for a conversation about soft options, Stewart explained.

Where that’s not possible, TechFlow’s Hardik suggested talking to customers about reassessing timelines, and with disties about keeping your supply needs in mind as containers roll in.

“It is a bit of a game of chance, but it just means we have to be more proactive. Normally, we just wait for a request and then go and find it, now we are using trends and projections. If we know 500 units will be needed in two months, we flag it with customers. We’re monitoring stock levels across the board with distributions as well as monitoring ETAs. Every second day we’re checking who has stock and the ETA of items our customers need. The more info, the better we can manage future orders.”

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