If there's a perfect week to reflect, this may be it. Not just looking back ‒ to all the things that have gone well over the course of the year ‒ but ahead to the opportunities and expectations yet to come. In other words, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to be an optimist.
There will always be challenges for tech entrepreneurs to overcome. Business models must continue to evolve, and customers will come and go, but at the end of the day, there are still plenty of reasons why channel professionals should be grateful.
Let’s begin with opportunity. Technology is the foundation of today’s businesses, and the demand, complexity, and new revenue options in IT are expected to rise considerably over the next few years. CompTIA projected global IT industry growth of 4.1% this year in its IT Industry Outlook 2017 report, which, based on current trends, is expected to push the market past the $3.5 trillion mark by the end of next month.
The business side of tech holds many possibilities. MSPs, solution providers, consultants, vendors, distributors, and IT-related organizations should be extremely thankful for what this year has brought. Revenue and profit margins remain relatively high among companies that offer unique products, services, and value-add. Despite several large M&A deals and industry consolidation trends, an expanding global market and new entrants continue to drive innovation and competition. That presents both challenges and opportunities for companies with the right business models and support programs, as well as the professionals that do the work.
The good news for flexible individuals with solid tech skills is they should never be without a job. Demand for quality talent remains strong, especially for those with experience and certifications in cybersecurity, cloud/SaaS, and mobility. Those with IoT-related knowledge and skills can also expect scores of job offers in the future.
Why else should tech professionals be thankful?
1. IoT Solutions Are Here
This may be the one real gift that will keep on giving for channel companies. From the breadth of new applications that need to be implemented, integrated and supported, to a wealth of network and security support opportunities, SMB organizations need help. Especially with the most critical component of IoT; the collected data.
How should that information be used? The answer is key to the success of IoT technologies, the process that helps leveraging all that data to improve companies’ marketing, sales, support and client retention objectives. Channel companies should be capitalizing on providing BDR and security services to protect their customers’ information, and offer network assessments and infrastructure upgrades to optimize their experience. Be thankful that IoT provides these types of opportunities and should continue to increase revenue for some time to come.
2. An Insatiable Need for Cybersecurity
There’s a theme emerging. Data is a major asset for businesses, and its value continues to rise. It’s also something cybercriminals covet, especially the personal and organizational details they often exploit. Blocking access to information and company networks should be considered a primary responsibility for MSPs, solutions providers and other channel companies ‒ a lucrative and much-needed service for virtually every business today.
Demand for that expertise is on the rise with no sign of abating any time soon. The number of connected devices is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years, and the global cybercriminal community is sure to expand, so the threats and vulnerabilities in these systems should rise considerably, as well. Awareness among business owners and decision makers is also increasing, spurring more engaging and productive conversations with their tech providers. All those factors spell opportunity for the channel.
3. The Digital Transformation: Cloud/SaaS/App
Much like IoT, success with virtual technologies is heavily dependent on secure high-speed network connections. A large segment of the SMB relies on outside professionals who can design, implement, and support their cloud strategies. They simply don’t have the resources to develop and manage business-critical applications. Consulting and assessment services are gaining traction in this space, as are network and security assessments and infrastructure support.
Procuring applications online is easier than ever, but businesses continue to struggle with daily tasks such as adding and subtracting users and updating payment information across multiple platforms. MSPs and solution providers can fill that management. By leveraging partner portals and implementing automation, they can make a fair profit and reduce the labor involved in those efforts.
4. Specializations Drive Profits and Service Quality
Focus is underrated. Businesses tend to be more loyal to channel firms that understand their industry, processes and compliance requirements. Familiarity breeds efficiency as the associated learning curve is much smaller. Providers can also charge a premium and replicate those solutions with other, like organizations, creating a win-win situation where everyone should be thankful.
5. The Upmarket Move
The channel is at another crossroad that few experts are speak about ‒ yet. As mid-size and enterprise businesses replace servers and infrastructure with cloud services, their need for internal IT resources is diminishing and those teams are shrinking. Those companies may look to channel firms to fill any resulting support gaps or to onboard new technologies. That transition may take longer in some markets, but providers should appreciate the growing number of larger customers prospects who may need their services as their digital transformation gains speed.
Brian Sherman is president of Tech Success Communications, a channel-related content and social media development firm. He served previously as the chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com