Channel partners send mixed signals about their business prospects in the cloud
Downers Grove, Ill. – Information technology (IT) industry channel firms are caught up in a dichotomy over where cloud computing fits into their business, new research from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry, reveals.
Nearly 40 percent of companies surveyed for CompTIA’s Sixth Annual State of the Channel report say cloud computing is the number one reason to be optimistic about the channel’s future.
At the same time, cloud computing is one of the main reasons that a third of channel firms surveyed are thinking negatively about the days ahead.
“The channel still isn’t 100 percent comfortable with cloud; in fact, they are less sure than they were two years ago,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA.
After several years of aggressive cloud activity, the channel appears to be undergoing a reality check, according to April.
“As the channel has had more experience working with the cloud, they’ve seen the problem areas, tempered their expectations around cost and return on investment and are now in the ‘refinement’ phase,” she explained. “It demonstrates that the channel’s shift to the cloud is not a linear, evenly-paced march, but more a case of two steps forward, one step back.”
The channel’s complex relationship with the cloud is evidenced in its perceived impact on dealings with customers. Six in 10 channel firms said the cloud has strengthened their bonds with customers this year, down from seven in 10 two years ago. About one-quarter of firms believe the cloud has weakened ties to customers, up from 17 percent in 2014.
Many of the cloud-related findings in channel study mirror what cloud customers revealed in CompTIA’s recent report Trends in Cloud Computing.
“End users are also in their own phase of cloud refinement,” April said. “Many are rethinking which workloads and applications they want to be cloud-based.”
Even with the mixed signals on cloud, the majority of channel firms (63 percent) are optimistic the channel will fare generally well in the years ahead, with large and medium-sized firms more optimistic than their small business counterparts.
Among the factors contributing to optimism, four in 10 channel firms rate their sales and marketing as “highly effective,” up from 32 percent in 2015. They also believe vertical market expertise and specialization can be a business differentiator for them in the eyes of both customers and vendor partners.
Countering those positive sentiments, one-third of channel firms are nervous about new competitors entering their market, led by telecom-oriented firms and non-traditional players from the software-as-a-service world and other adjacent channels.
Availability of skilled workers continues to be a challenge, with 38 percent of channel firms singling this out as a critical factor in assuring future success. More employee training – in both business and technical skills – will be necessary for a bright channel future.
CompTIA’s Sixth Annual State of the Channel report is based on an online survey of U.S. IT channel executives and professionals from 350 companies. The survey was conducted in July.
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, 80,000 registered users 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.