The last few years have been tough on tech companies; more than 30 percent of the value-added resellers and solution providers that were in business a couple of years ago are no longer operating. By way of reference, this figure is double the traditional attrition rate that comes from businesses going bankrupt, being acquired, or just shutting down to pursue other opportunities. The economic downturn did not make matters easier, and integrators and manufacturers have had to deal with hardware margins that have bottomed out, software margins collapsing due to cloud and new licensing scenarios and most troubling, the commoditization of traditional and managed services. Where's the good news in here? The good news is that companies that have weathered this storm have likely transformed their businesses and are well positioned to take advantage of three key trends that have emerged recently:
- Managing the Internet of all things: The average knowledge worker owns three devices and they want each of those devices to access the company network. This BYOD trend has been around since 2010, but will escalate significantly; it’s estimated the same knowledge worker will have 10 (!) devices in the next five years. Planning, consulting, policy creation and deployment, provisioning, protecting, remotely managing, ensuring industry compliance and controlling data fragmentation and portability will drive significant opportunities over the next decade.
- Line of business overtakes IT: Key opportunities over the next few years reside outside of the IT department. Sales, marketing, finance, HR and operations are moving ahead with technology requirements on their own because of the cloud and the consumerization of hardware. Just look at the growth of companies such as Salesforce, NetSuite and Marketo. These decisions are sometimes rogue in nature and bypass the IT team completely. BYOA, Bring Your Own App, is also compounding this issue as well-meaning individuals are adding consumer apps onto their personal devices and using them for business purposes. Security compliance and data fragmentation are usually afterthoughts.
- Infrastructure becomes important again: The Channel WILL sell hardware -- and lots of it. The Internet of Things will drive significant upgrades in basic infrastructure such as wireless capacity, audio/video equipment, mobile printing, document management and building electrical. Yes, having 10 devices will require having 10 charging dongles. New hardware such as in-memory computing, extremely low-energy servers and cloud enablement and security devices will provide additional opportunity.
While the cloud and pervasive hardware devices appear to simplify the environment for users, the opposite is happening for corporations that must manage the environment. Companies will be tasked with overseeing the increased complexity and the responsibilities to balance technology and business objectives. Managing security, compliance, data portability, fragmentation and supporting all these new devices will give businesses plenty of opportunities for innovation in the coming year.