The Internet is the growth engine of the future, and few will argue with that. While technology companies may face slower demand for certain products today, the Internet will continue to drive increased productivity, new forms of communication and entertainment, and entirely new product categories well into the future.
Look at the current IT market environment, with high-growth areas offering the channel great potential.
In the business segment, the highest growth is in the server market. Every business - large, medium or small - is becoming an e-business to some extent, whether ordering office stationery online, implementing company-wide intranets, providing access for dial-in mobile users or designing full-scale end-to-end e-business and CRM solutions. All these businesses will need servers. And, potentially, Internet traffic management appliances. And, of course, networking solutions.
Consider mobile computing. Increasing numbers of telecommuters, component price reductions and the proliferation of employee and student laptop purchase programs has compounded to significantly change the sales mix between desktop and mobile PCs. Over the past 12 months, mobile PCs have gained as much as 10 per cent of the traditional PC market mix. Through 2004, according to IDC, the growth of demand for portables will exceed that for desktop PCs by 4 to 10 per cent.
Think products AND services. By selling complete solutions, dealers are positioning themselves as de facto IT departments for small and medium businesses. Many are also developing their business networks to build competitive advantage, teaming up with complementary third parties to offer a wider array of services while avoiding significant investment costs.
What about the consumer segment? Think beyond the traditional PC market and consider how Internet and PC usage models are changing.
The digitising of everyday media, the ease of transfer to the PC and the PC's ability to store, create and share that data, are all changing the way consumers perceive computing. High-performance PCs enable rich data, while the increasing availability and affordability of broadband Internet provides compelling content and a greater capacity to share what we create.
A new generation of digital devices to capture images and sound has also emerged. Users are being compelled to purchase new PCs based on a level of excitement stimulated by a whole new world of PC use: audio, digital video, imaging, wireless home networking, communications and entertainment. With the PC becoming the hub for home entertainment and communications, we have entered the "extended PC era".
While some analysts have hailed the post-PC era for years, very few information appliances are being acquired at the expense of either desktop or portable computers. The PC will remain the centre of our digital world for some time to come.
But someone has to pull these converging technologies together, and PC resellers are best positioned to provide the advice, products, integration, installation and financing.
And how do we translate these ideas and strategies into new business? By communicating the vision for future technology. Customers must know what to expect - and why they need headroom.
Take advantage of the renewed interest and excitement spurred on by the continued development of e-commerce, broadband Internet and new consumer usage models. Andrew McLean is channel marketing manager of Intel Australia