While there is no shortage of emerging technologies worthy of channel attention, the fact remains that most IT organizations these days are focused on some fairly immediate business challenges facing their organizations.
For example, mobile computing is a top of mind IT issue thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. Business executives simply want to use these devices to respond more quickly to events in way that allows them to more easily consume large amounts of information. According to newly appointed Ingram Micro North America president Paul Bay, mobile computing devices may not be creating high margin opportunities for solution providers in terms of reselling those devices, but the need to secure and manage them creates profitable opportunities all across the channel.
In essence, Bay says BYOD is a classic example of where events that reside outside the traditional control of IT that is creating downstream benefits for the channel. A similar phenomenon is taking place in the healthcare and retail spaces, says Bay
Outside of a few major hospitals, healthcare organizations historically have not spent much on traditional IT. But thanks to legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare organizations of all sizes have significantly increased spending on IT as result of the shift toward electronic medical records.
Another traditional technology laggard that Bay says is hot these days from a technology perspective is retail. Thanks to the rise of social media, the retail sector is investing in analytics systems that span everything from the point-of-sale to their Web sites and back again.
From a channel perspective the best place to focus on these trends is in the small-to-medium business sector. Bay notes that Ingram Micro’s recent financial results show double digit gains in IT sales in the SMB sector, much of which came from the sales of products from companies that made Ingram Micro’s list of top vendor partners for 2012. The SMB sector, says Bay, is seeing the benefits of a slow, but sustained recovery more so than their larger enterprise brethren. And while interest in all things cloud in the SMB sector is high, Bay notes that most SMB customers appear to be currently viewing the cloud as a set of supplemental services to their existing on premise IT investments.
Bay says the best thing that solution providers can do right now is hire sales people with business acumen. The ability to put larger macro business trends in an IT perspective, says Bay, is critical when it comes to generating demand. Bay says Ingram Micro is more than ready to supplement solution provider expertise with any of the technical resources required. But there’s no substitute for a trusted relationship that is built around an intimate understanding of the business challenges a customer actually faces.
We obviously live in a time of great IT change. But no matter how great those changes might be, time and again it’s been proven that that business relationships are everything in the channel.