Getting the financial house in order and dissecting the recently announced Federal Budget is high on the list of priorities for the channel just over a month before the end of the 2010/11 financial year.
In the short-term, Ovum analyst, Kevin Noonan, said business should look for opportunities in commodity services and equipment, as well as “opportunistic money that’s lying around with customers” and offer special deals for equipment that’s in stock.
In the long-term, there are some clear winners to back including datacentre transformation and the push towards cloud computing.
Not surprisingly, cloud computing (software-, platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service) will continue to move from the planning “let’s think about it and plan for it stage” to the pilot project and implementation phase, Noonan said.
“One of the biggest changes in the last year is the move away from public cloud overseas to private and community cloud now being delivered by providers in Australia,” Noonan said. “As well, in the IaaS arena there are a number of players bringing substantial services to market. “
Open source is also starting to mature, Noonan added. “More and more enterprises are thinking about it and it is losing some of its geeky image. At the enterprise level, it is now focusing on maintenance and support as opposed to the geeky end of development.”
“Web 2.0 is worth a thought. One of the real heroes to come out of the recent natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand is the emphasis on social networking. It’s time to think about what could be done with social networking and integrating it into core business systems. Typically, social networking was seen as risky and fringe, but now it’s starting to be seen as a business tool.”
Newport Capital Group chairman, Lou Richard, provided his channel outlook for the new financial year.
“The winners will be the big tier-1 distributors like Ingram Micro, Dicker Data, Synnex and Express Data, while the losers will be the yum-cha resellers that have a very mixed portfolio and have margin pressures.”
Additionally, the SMB sector, due to interest rate hikes, will keep spending down, whereas large corporates will renew IT infrastructures, particularly in the financial services and resources sector.
The retailers will continue to get squeezed, he said.
“There are two reasons for this: margin pressure from vendors, and increasing competition from Web-based vendors,” Rickard said.
There will be a “flight to safety” towards tier one/popular brands and less buying of second and third tier brands.
Find value in vertical projects, Ovum principal analyst, Jens Butler, suggested.
Butler said vertical specific projects will drive significant investment in IT across the region creating demand for business-fluent technology vendors.
“Projects such as smart grid in the utilities industry, e-health in the healthcare industry, constituent engagement in Government, and transportation infrastructure projects will combine to form a significant portion of IT investment across APAC”, he said.
Eyeing other market trends, risk mitigation will be a big play in the new financial year – in some cases even surpassing ROI as the top area of focus for some buyers. For example, risk and change management for cloud engagements will continue to be demanded as enterprises make the transition from on-site to cloud solutions, he explained.
Channel advice at EOFY time
IT industry veteran and Express Data non-executive, Ross Cochrane, offered up some advice to partners during this nail-bitting time.
“Certainly good preparation and planning is always key for a successful outcome,” Cochrane said. In eying opportunities in the next financial year, start early, do a thorough analysis of the market (know your areas of focus) and put into action clear strategies and budgets for the desired outcome.
“Often times people remove focus on what’s urgent, rather than planning soundly for the future.”
He suggested partners look for opportunities in annuity areas, managed services, support contracts, security and collaboration and videoconferencing.
IT consultant, and former EMC staffer, David Henderson, expected the NBN “to come to some sort of position this year.”
This year, the NBN project is turning to implementation, agreed Ovum’s Noonan, outlining the Budget spend on the project.
“This includes $35.6m over 5 years for implementation support, $12.8m over four for the regulatory framework, and $4 million over 4 years for legal support in regional Australia,” Noonan said.
Along with the NBN having a big growth year, the telecommunications market will go gangbusters, Henderson said. “The industry will transition in the next 12 months and we’ll see the true convergence of the communications and IT play – like we’ve never seen before.”