2012 was a year of change for the channel. Evolving business strategies, keeping up with the demands of new technologies, and running a business with the constraint of a weak economy were just some of the challenges it faced.
But the more pertinent question now is: What does 2013 hold?
As usual there are plenty of different answers depending on who you speak to but several commonalities emerged. It appears certain, the channel will shape up to a year centred around mobility, in particular teleworking, BYOD and the applications surrounding these devices. This will play into the space of Big Data and analytics as well as security. Cloud computing will also be top of mind for many organisations.
Ovum held a series of discussions in Australia and New Zealand with 250 senior executives and CIOs. The five big issues they tipped for the coming year were: Mobility, Cloud computing, productivity and innovation, analytics (Big Data) and security. And virtually everybody ARN spoke to said if channel players were not in the mobility and BYOD space then they should immediately gear up.
ShoreTel A/NZ managing director, Jamie Romanin, said, while many companies had been talking about BYOD, it is only now they are starting to deploy a mobility strategy around it. According to IDC, global IT spending in 2013 will exceed $US2.1 trillion, up 5.7 per cent from 2012, and the biggest driver of that growth will be mobility.
It stated that sales of smart mobile devices will grow by 20 per cent, generate 20 per cent of all IT sales, and drive a whopping 57 per cent of all IT market growth. Excluding smart mobile devices, IT industry growth will be just 2.9 per cent.
“If a channel partner is talking to a customer and they are not showing the customer how they can leverage the solutions they are selling today in a BYOD program, then the customer is just going to look elsewhere,” Romanin said.
ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said the channel should position itself with some key vendors in that space, instead of working with every vendor possible, and create a mobile device management (MDM) strategy suited to its customers.
“Multi-vendor in BYOD doesn’t mean dealing with everybody. The channel has to strategically position who it’s going to partner with and then offer more support in MDM – such as security or asset management or patching,” she said.
And out of that will come a focus on applications.
Lowe expects the number of available apps to skyrocket, providing the channel with an opportunity to become a recommender to clients.
Ovum research director, Kevin Noonan, said the channel stood to make a lot of money in the mobile space as well as value-added software and services, particularly within the area of analytics and Big Data.
“Analytics is being transformed because you can get up to date information on your mobile device. That’s setting a scene for value-added services because these are all new facilities that people haven’t quite worked out how to get value out from yet.”
Distribution Central co-founder, Nick Verykios, foresees the growth of data analysis tools associated with storage companies.
“It is one of the largest things we will see in terms of transition within the IT industry, because what is also associated to that is the discussion around Cloud,” he said.
Channel Dynamics Director, Moheb Moses, said the Cloud will be one of the fastest growing areas, but will still be a relatively small part of the IT industry. He also singled out social media as a growing platform in 2013.
Moses said it had proven its place in the business to consumer space and, in 2013, will start to establish its presence and validity in the business to business sector.
“Not just social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, other mediums such as Wikis, blogs, crowdsourcing, video, microblog sites, content marketing, etcetera will creep to become more of a way to do business,” Moses said.
Data#3 managing director, John Grant, highlighted opportunities within the virtualisation and services space.
“We’ve continued to make big investments in our as-a-service business and we’ve got good and competitive offerings in place. We’re taking that to market aggressively and aim to see some returns from that in this financial year (FY13) and beyond,” Grant said.
“The focus on the selling proposition and activity levels, professionalism in the sales process, competency in pre-sales engagements and so forth, is really key.”
Southern Cross Computer Systems (SCCS) managing director, Mark Kalmus, said it witnessed solid demand from its customers for active directory work and virtual desktop requirements.
This also played into BYOD policies and how companies move from their current environment in-house to an offsite private Cloud. It is also taking into consideration capacity planning issues, data security and workload balancing issues.
Romanin claimed the unified communications (UC) space is set to grow, especially since Microsoft moved into that space.
“It has put UC in the front of a lot of customers’ minds. UC used to be an add-on to IP telephony, but now, customers expect it to be part of a solution,” he said.