As this Partner Spotlight column moves around our local states, it has found challenges wherever it has stopped. But the story from Melbourne is probably the most optimistic so far.
ARN quizzed Melbourne-based IT service providers on the main issues impacting business in 2016, but partners had plenty to say but it was mostly of the opportunities available and the movement and trends within the marketplace.
“One of the challenges that most resellers are having at the moment is getting good quality staff in sales and engineering. What we’re seeing is that people who have been in the industry for a while, are now moving on into different areas, so getting new staff is increasingly harder.
“From our perspective, we are expanding and looking for new staff as we’re building up the company. In the Citrix networking and virtualisation space, we’ve been advertising a position for a while now and there’s still not a lot of people out there with the skills you want to see these days. It’s a unique area.
“It’s a very small community and we all know each other fairly well, so it’s not just us that’s facing this problem in the market. There are masses of opportunities in the Melbourne market, some people are saying it’s slowing down, but I disagree.
“It’s a really good time to be going after new business, and there’s a lot of opportunities out there up for grabs in the networking, virtualisation and mobility areas, all of which are picking up healthily.”
“A good guide for me on how the market is shaping up is by looking into our pre-sales areas. Whether that turns into real dollars and how quickly, is another matter, but we’ve seen a real upswing in activity in the pre-sales area and getting requests for RFTs, meetings, and so on.
“On the other side to that, we are seeing more levels of approval that are required from large to medium organisations. They are being much more careful about getting a return on investment in a much shorter time frame.
“With developments in the hybrid Cloud space, some organisations still aren’t sure what that means for them depending on their size and type of organisation. If it’s something like moving their exchange to Office365 or developing a testing environment, it’s a simple decision for them, but when it’s mainstream applications, there is still a lot of discussion on whether that’s better off in the Cloud or sitting on their premises in a private Cloud environment.
“Our sweetspot is in our device-as-a-service offering and we’re partnering with Devicedesk, using their technology at the front-end as the catalogue/portal for the customer, but then all legacy and know-how comes in at the back-end of the user devices with configuration work, installation, decommissioning.”
“In the last 18 months, we are seeing more of our mid-sized customers take up or shift their relationship with us from being project-based to now outsourcing all of their basic IT requirements to us, and their in-house IT staff are turning into IT advocates and sitting closer to specific business units.
“In the case of one of our logistics customers, their senior network and admin staff have taken on more of a senior role in the applications stack, so they pioneer the businesses’ ability to take advantage of different applications by relying on us to fulfill the delivery, support and maintenance work of those technologies.
“This company is not retrenching its IT staff, they are just giving them more exciting things to do in the company where they are actually applying themselves to help achieve tangible business outcomes and work together with managed services providers like us.
“We are seeing a fair bit of shift in emerging technologies and a greater openness to invest in enterprise Wi-Fi and overall networking which also touches upon network, security.
"This is because organisations are taking up more Cloud technologies or having already used, migrated or expanded, finding data security vulnerabilities and risks or performance issues.
“Some customers have rethought their strategy on Wi-Fi integration, particularly where they see that it now needs to be expanded across all their sites and accessed by every staff member, unlike in the past where it was a bit of privilege.
“This is becoming more prevalent within the mid-market (sub-1000 seat organisations), which then opens up possibilities and requirements for sufficient network security like firewalls and intrusion prevention.”
“We’re seeing an evolution from traditional IT to Cloud-based IT. That runs the risk of either swamping us or if we get it right, allowing us to grow our business considerably.
"This is why we invested and bought Paradyne last year because we’re very focused on our Microsoft business and it was one of the largest providers of Office 365 seats in the country. We’re just starting to see that purchase succeed by winning some sizeable deals in the market.
“We’ve also recently invested in growing our visual communications business, recruiting more staff in that space. We’re surrounding the Cloud with technologies that can’t go into the Cloud, so that involves the built environment, physical workspace and optimising the way people work in their environment.
“Another evolution we’re seeing in the market, is a shift from organisations wanting people that are highly technical to wanting a balance of technical and business analysts – resources that will help drive business success, not just technology success.”