Planning to be back on track by 2012

The year 2012 might not just be memorable because of the Olympics coming to the capital; by then the economy could be back in full swing.

The year 2012 might not just be memorable because of the Olympics coming to the capital; by then the economy could be back in full swing.

That was one version of the future on offer at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona at the start of this month, which pulled together senior executives from a wide range of vendors along with leading figures from the distribution and reseller levels of the channel.

One of the keynote presentations came from Canalys senior analyst Alastair Edwards, who stressed the importance of looking beyond the current economic conditions to the upturn.

The more optimistic scenario suggests that in a couple of years the problems with the banking system will have been ironed out, there will be a return to stable credit and there will be investment, with IT budgets being put back on track.

“People need to work out what to do to keep the business going but
my message was that if you look at what’s happening by 2012 it is very positive and back into the growth phase,” he said.

That might sound difficult to believe with the current doom and gloom, and the daily dose of bad news in the media, but even with all the negativity the channel continues to operate.

“There is a lot of pessimism in the media and in the customer base, which is one of the biggest hindrances to business. A lot of negativity is being felt but a lot of resellers still feel there are opportunities for them,” said Edwards.

There will also be changes in the in-demand technology over the next couple of years and Edwards believes there are trends resellers need to be aware of including cloud computing, virtualisation, managed services and unified communications.

“A lot of resellers are focused on immediate business and don’t have the staff to keep an eye on the industry and what are best practices in the channel,” he said.

“In the reseller channel they tend to look one quarter ahead and we were giving them intelligence to look a bit further into the future.” 

Some of those with an eye on survival have already started to move into those technology areas – cloud, virtualisation, UC – that have been identified as future growth areas.

But there was also an accompanying warning that the reality is that not all of those operating in the market right now would make it and the ones that survive would have done so through a result of having become more aggressive and better at customer relationships.

The idea of becoming “fitter” was one of the key components of the
Canalys event and even before the recession took hold those planning the conference had focused on an agenda that would help improve the skills level in the channel, with one-to-one briefings on offer with vendors and analysts.

One of the areas where skills need to be constantly fine-tuned is around services and the awareness about changing customer needs. It was an issue raised by the Canalys CEO Steve Brazier in MicroScope even
before the event, when he warned resellers they had a duty to look ahead, or risk being negligent about how they run their businesses.

Those who made the effort in taking that advice were rewarded not just with access to some of the most senior channel executives among the vendor community but also with a steer on the future.

“If you start thinking about the future now you can be ready for the growth opportunities as they arise,” concluded Edwards

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