Thursday, January 03, 2013
While many may not have switched their calendars yet, 2013 is officially here. Before all the New Year’s resolutions have either been forgotten or broken, make sure to take time to review what went well in 2012 and what needs to change to make the next year more successful. What challenges and opportunities do you foresee?
In reviewing a similar blog post
I wrote around this same time last year, it’s interesting to note the similarities between 2012 and 2013. While technology continues to advance at lightning speed, the changes in the business community often take a lot longer. “Leading edge” is typically a lot more logical and profitable for channel organizations to provide than “bleeding edge,” as clients invest in more proven solutions. Technologies and delivery models that demonstrate a tangible ROI are more likely to be in demand than those with a questionable business case.
With an eye on economic conditions and quick changes in consumer demand, today’s business leaders are becoming more cautious about how they invest in new technologies and infrastructure. Flexibility is a key selling point for solution providers, which is why cloud and mobility remain top opportunities. VARs and MSPs with the ability to integrate existing infrastructure in new applications are thriving, despite the economic pressures hyped in the media and in certain segments of the business community.
A number of channel companies posted record profits in 2012 and, predictably, most were actively involved in developing and/or delivering the solutions outlined below. As noted, the IT technologies haven’t changed a lot in the past 12 months, but the opportunities continue to evolve in the business community, particularly in the SMB segment. Cloud
In 2012, cloud was a rare exception for Gartner, with the research company revising its sales projections here up. All the experts seem to agree that demand for Web-based solutions will continue to climb over the next several years, growing their share of the total IT market. Annual revenue of cloud is projected to reach $207 billion by 2016, according to Gartner Research as part of the CompTIA 3rd Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study. That’s almost 10 percent of total IT spending.
The top cloud opportunities for solution providers continue to be found in complementary services, such as integration, consulting and support. Other channel prospects include private and hybrid cloud implementation and support, particularly for customers in highly regulated industries who may have security concerns with public cloud offerings. Mobility
The growth of smartphones and tablet technologies continues to fuel demand for mobility management solutions. With cloud and security options expanding, solution providers are discovering a number of new opportunities, including:
- Mobile device management (MDM)
- Bring your own device (BYOD)
- Application development
- Consultation (assessment, policy creation and strategy)
- Carrier management
No matter which network technology or business model the industry is promoting as the latest and greatest channel opportunity, without effective intrusion safeguards in place, its value is questionable at best. In an era when hackers and spyware prevails, proactive security services continue to grow in importance and value, while compliance measures only add to the demand. With the growth of cloud and mobility solutions, secure and robust networks are critical to ensure maximum productivity and business uptime.
While most solution providers currently offer some form of IT security solutions (74 percent in the latest CompTIA survey), the demand for advanced services has never been stronger. Those opportunities include:
- Managed security
- Risk management
- Consulting services
While UC has been touted as a channel opportunity for years, its business case for SMB customers was murky and the technologies were a bit too complicated and costly for the average organization. While larger companies still rate the perceived value of these solutions higher than smaller firms do, according to the 2012 CompTIA Unified Communications Market Trends report, implementations are growing in both segments. Almost half of all respondents claimed that UC spending was a high priority for their organization, citing its ability to:
- Reduce costs
- Increase productivity
- Improve communications
- Create greater collaborative opportunities
Approximately one out of every three solution providers has completed Big Data application deployment or integration services, while a majority believe the time is right to get involved with these technologies. With the volume of business data doubling every two years, according to IDC, the need to leverage all that information grows just as quickly. Organizations want solutions that not only track and analyze a variety of their operational and sales metrics, but help them leverage the information to benefit each company’s overall goals.
Big Data applications and services offer businesses a number of dashboards and aggregation techniques to better employ their reservoirs of information. Knowledgeable providers who can help their customers select and implement the right solutions are in high demand and, with complementary support services, have a chance to build a unique and profitable new business practice.
It’s a new year and a great time to be a solution provider. The most proactive VARs and MSPs don’t look back on the uncertain economic environment of and growing list of regulations introduced in 2012, but ahead to the opportunities they present. They will adopt or advance their portfolio of services and solutions, and help their customers gain new business efficiencies and overcome a variety of obstacles. The year ahead looks promising, but each provider has to create their own success story. Have you started yours? Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and industry alliances director with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.