Cashing in on Cloud, Tablets, Social NetworkingBy Elliot Markowitz | Print
Cloud, tablets and social networking are here to stay. You can resist and lose, or incorporate these unstoppable market forces into your business model and tip the margins in your favor. Which will you choose?
If you’re a solution provider, it’s time to take a hard look at your business model. Look harder.
If you are not providing cloud, social networking or mobile (including tablet) support and services, it’s time to rethink your strategy. The good news is, it’s not too late.
Folks, there is no way around it. The consumerization of IT is here. End of story. The power once wielded by IT directors has diminished and although they still need to squeeze efficiency out of their infrastructure, data centers and networks, employee support is leading the charge. And what do employees want? Let’s start with mobility and tablets. They want support, integration and security around the mobile device of their choice—smartphone, tablet, laptop—and they want access to data in real time.
IT departments are caving. While they are loosely trying to hold onto commissioning devices, it’s a losing battle. Trying to control what employees are bringing into work is dead, even in the highly-regulated banking and insurance industries. There are too many holes in the dam. So what does this mean to you, the solution provider, the integrator, the value-added reseller? Get into mobile services and now.
At the recent IDC Directions conference, the research firm claimed that more than 1 million applications will be developed for mobile devices this year. That compares to 50,000 to 75,000 applications for the desktop. Follow the money. If history is any lesson, and I believe that it is, the IT industry lives and breathes through software development. Solution providers that can provide device management, security, integration and collaboration services for the mobile platform will be flying in the jet stream.
Now onto social networking. It ain’t going away. But while we probably have seen the best of platform development, again the real growth will be in the enterprise software application market. Get familiar with it and quick. Every organization under the sun is throwing money at social networking, and with half-baked strategies. But putting up a Facebook or Linkedin site or establishing a twitter feed is not the answer and companies know it.
Smart organizations are establishing corporate social networking initiatives for their sales and client services teams to interact with serious customers and business partners. Organizations need to figure out how to communicate with their current and prospective clients via social networking and add value and make money at the same time. Any SP that can assist in developing a well-thought out social networking strategy for businesses will be of tremendous value.
Think of it. In order for organizations to truly capitalize on all the data coming in, their social networking strategy needs to be integrated into the CRM or ERP systems. How close to the bone can you get? If you are helping organizations maximize their leads and turning into real business, you’re worth your weight in gold.
Last, but certainly not least, is cloud computing. You’ve heard the hype, but the truth is, it isn’t hype. Going forward, everything you do as an SP must touch the cloud in some way, shape or form. IDC describes cloud computing as the biggest transformation to hit the IT industry in the last 25 years, and I agree. It is going to change the way hardware companies support their systems, reinvent the way software companies distribute applications and create unprecedented opportunity for solution providers that are ready to pull it all together.
Driven by mobile apps, these driving forces of the market -- social networking, and the need to store more information and make it available anytime, anywhere to anyone with the right access -- are not going away. User demand coupled with IT efficiency is a winning formula. There is no turning back. It started with storage and server virtualization but the mobile onslaught is fanning the flames. Get into cloud services now and watch your business scales tip into higher margin support services.
So the first quarter of 2011 if over. Where do you stand in these three areas?
Elliot Markowitz is Senior Vice President, Director of Content, Ziff Davis Enterprise.