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Speakers at several presentations and in conversations I had in the hallways with conference attendees at ChannelCon 2016 this week depicted an industry that is maturing in its approach to the cloud and security and beginning to tap the internet of things and other emerging technologies.

As cloud adoption becomes more widespread and the space grows more sophisticated, it is considered to be a significant contributor to channel revenue and profits, yet 57 percent of channel firms say they are balancing the needs of legacy business and the cloud, according to Seth Robinson, CompTIA senior director of industry analysis. “We see the cloud as starting something new—as the demarcation line between old ways and new.”

The top services in the cloud are data analytics, virtual desktop (workplace as a service), business productivity apps, email and storage, according CompTIA’s cloud study, which is due to be released in September.

The channel also is more advanced on the security front, according to CompTIA researchers and security vendors such as ESET. “The channel is seeing a new level of maturity, advancing from treating security as a commodity to helping customers maintain security,” said Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at ESET.

Even companies in other markets, such as the cloud, need to address security, either by themselves or through partnerships, Cobb said. “If you are not doing security or not doing it well, somebody may come in and do it for you and you can lose [business].”

Cobb pointed to seven key areas within security that partners must address: anti-malware, encryption, backup and recovery, two-factor authentication, data loss prevention, security awareness and services. Attendees at Cobb’s presentation added mobile-device management, patch management and incident response to the list.

The successful implementation of the internet of things (IoT), which builds on many other technologies, including security and the cloud as well as analytics and mobile technology, is receiving a warm reception. 

“IoT doesn’t come in a box; it has a lot of moving pieces and a lot of opportunities,” Robinson said. “The IoT provides a good opportunity for the blending of skills.”

However, new technology—ranging from IoT to robotics—will require myriad skills, many of which are in short supply, said CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux.  Companies in the channel are in competition with their customers and other industries for top tech talent, he added, pointing to the millions of IT workers set to retire and the challenge of recruiting younger workers.

“If we don’t have the people [with the right skills] to do it, it won’t happen,” Thibodeaux said.