Downers Grove, Ill. – The year 2016 will see cloud computing rise to new heights, security readiness remain front and center and daunting choices for technology solution providers to alter their business or risk becoming irrelevant, according to members of industry advisory councils at CompTIA, the information technology (IT) industry trade association.
CompTIA asked members of its Distributor, Partner and Vendor advisory councils to share their insights about what’s in store for the IT industry and IT channel in 2016. Cloud computing, security and business transformation among channel partners and solution providers dominate their 2016 expectations.
New and expanded use of cloud computing will once again drive much of the business for channel companies next year.
“The year 2016 will be another big year in the ‘main adoption phase’ of cloud services, particularly cloud telecom and managed firewalls,” says Cassandra Anderson, director, channel sales, Crexendo and member of the CompTIA Vendor Advisory Council.
That’s good news for IT companies with strong cloud credentials, according to Sergio Farache, vice president, solutions and strategy, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.
"Companies of all sizes will require expert resources that can help them develop and implement effective cloud solutions with flexible transaction models to overcome rising data center costs,” Farache says. “The most successful players in the channel will adapt to this shift.”
Dina Moskowitz, CEO, SaaSMAX and member of the CompTIA Vendor Advisory Council, also sees more channel engagement ahead.
“Based on the momentum we're experiencing, I predict that a growing percentage of the VAR, MSP and agent channels will be adding more software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to their line card, including at least one security-related SaaS application,” she says. “I also predict that more and more SaaS development companies, both IT and line of business focused, will be launching and embracing channel partner programs."
Security above All
Heightened emphasis on security considerations is also on the horizon for the New Year.
"The year 2016 will be the year of a lot more firing of CIOs and CSOs. This will be fueled by more cybersecurity attacks on business and negative headlines calling out companies for their inability to protect their data, employees and customers,” predicts Paul Cronin, senior vice president, Atrion and member of the CompTIA Partner Advisory Council
The security challenges companies face should generate business opportunities for qualified channel companies, Cronin adds.
“Consultants, integrators and vendors who can help the CIO design an all-encompassing security business strategy that addresses the concerns of corporate executives and engages the business units will find themselves in the right place at the right time,” he says.
The small and medium size business market will also offer opportunities to help customers with their security readiness.
“Data security has become an overwhelming concern for business,” Crexendo’s Anderson says. “Even small businesses are feeling the pressure to become more security conscious, realizing they are actually a prime target.”
“Small business need to leverage the security expertise of their providers,” says Jon Whitlock, vice president, B2B and channel marketing, North America, Kaspersky Lab and member, CompTIA Vendor Advisory Council.
“We’ll see more of the SMB market moving the management of security to a managed security service provider (MSSP),” Whitlock adds. “These MSSPs will be able to maintain sophisticated workflows and leverage many SMB customers to retain the talent necessary.”
Getting Down to Business
Also high on the 2016 agenda will be the need for channel companies to re-evaluate and re-engineer their business models.
“The days of being a ‘trusted advisor’ are fast fading away,” says Lester Keizer, CEO, Business Continuity Technologies and member, CompTIA Partner Advisory Council.
“Our clients today are demanding that we become ‘business partners’ to help them gain the competitive edge in the fast-changing digital world,” Keizer continues. “Our technicians are becoming business analysts; our sales people are moving away from solution selling to insightful selling.”
“Fewer companies will fit the traditional reseller or solution provider label, as many have transformed (or born into) a recurring revenue business model around managed services, cloud, SaaS integrations, line-of-business and vertical specialists,” adds Jay McBain, co-founder, ChannelEyes and member, CompTIA Vendor Advisory Council.
“I predict that upwards of 80 percent of technology decisions will come from outside of the IT department and channel partners (and vendors) that understand the line of business software stack and have the integration skills will be big winners,” McBain adds.
Jeff Ponts, executive vice president, CloudMSP, and member, CompTIA Distributor Advisory Council, also sees changes ahead for channel companies.
"I believe Integration-as-a-Service will grow significantly, because integrated multi-vendor solutions will be bundled as solution sets,” Ponts says. “Examples would be hosted VOIP vendors integrating with Office 365, Wi-Fi with marketing analytics, POS vendors with accounting platforms, and simplified business intelligence wrapped into many front-line solutions like CRM/PRM/ERP. I believe we will finally see vendor collaboration and integration, with the charge led by distribution."
CompTIA Advisory Councils provide strategic, near-term insight and thought leadership to CompTIA’s administrative staff, 10 member communities, the Board of Directors and the IT industry as a whole. These strategic councils identify, discuss, debate and prioritize guidance on industry issues and challenges affecting specific channel players across the IT and telecom industries.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a non-profit trade association serving as the voice of the information technology industry. With approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners and more than two million IT certifications issued, CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. To learn more, visit CompTIA online, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.