Time for Change in the Channel, Again

By Pedro Pereira  |  Print this article Print


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With the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President, the coming changes are bound to require technology and bode well for the IT channel.

The country is in the mood for change, as evidenced by the election of Barack Obama as our 44th president.

Obama’s call for a new way of doing things resonated with the voters, who went to the polls in record numbers.

Now comes the hard part – making the change.

It’s not an easy proposition, and no one knows that better than the folks who run the thousands of IT channel companies that over the years have had to adapt, adjust, readapt and readjust to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the industry.

Change is scary, so no matter how much excitement the prospect of change generates, an undercurrent of anxiety is inevitable. And at a time like this, the unease is accentuated by economic uncertainty. Unemployment is up, credit is tight and spending is down.

But for the IT channel, the change likely to come as a result of Obama’s election spells opportunity. If the president elect follows through on campaign promises to invest in renewable energy sources, infrastructure and education, and to fix our clearly broken health care system, the IT industry is sure to benefit.

Think about it. None of these changes will happen without technology.

Technology will be at the center of advances in energy production and adjustments in energy consumption, as well as any new regulations to protect the environment. There is a clear link here to Green IT, telecommuting and remote delivery of services.

Technology will support the rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure. Or whatever changes take place in health care. Or even in trade, taxation and regulations. Remember what Sarbanes Oxley and HIPAA did for the channel.

But for solution providers to take advantage of the opportunities to come, they have to be willing to change themselves.

It’s not an option.

If you look at which channel companies are best weathering the current economic storm, you will notice it’s those that in recent years have invested in new technologies and new processes for delivering services. It’s the companies that have automated themselves and their customers. The companies that have cut costs out of their own and their customers’ operations by doing more work remotely, taking advantage of RMM (remote monitoring and management) tools, have reason to optimistic.

Many vendors and solution providers doing business with RMM platforms, business automation and SAAS (software as a service) report their business is expanding.

Picking growth technologies only gets you so far, though. Technology is the enabler, not the objective.

Solution providers will boost their chances of overcoming the ongoing economic realities by also stepping up their efforts in marketing and business development. Know your community and which businesses are most likely to need your services.

MasterIT, Bartlett, Tenn., has scoured business directories and other publications in the Memphis area to identify which companies are likely to bite when MasterIT pitches them managed services that can reduce customers’ IT costs by 20 percent.

Through e-mail campaigns, events and phone calls, the company carefully targets what CEO Michael Drake says are businesses that are "rabidly dependent" on IT. These days, those businesses are in such verticals as medical, legal, high-level non-profits, and yes, community banks. Local banks and credit unions have been spared the debilitating, self-inflicted woes of their larger counterparts.

Drake knows the companies he is targeting want to keep costs down and operate more efficiently. Change for them will come in the form of transferring IT operations to a solution provider. Change for MasterIT comes in adjusting its pursuit of prospective customers.

Yes, change is scary. And it’s work. And for solution providers, a way of life. And as it happens, your customers might just be in the mood for it.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at pedro.pereira@ziffdavisenterprise.com.


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