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When you’re a solution provider, you can either spend your time trying to persuade
people to do something or you can spend your time making money by helping do
things they already want to do.

With that in mind, solution providers might want to take note of a Ziff Davis Enterprise survey of senior IT
executives that shows what the top priorities of most customers are through the
rest of 2009.

Not surprisingly, virtualization of servers and storage infrastructure tops
the list. Obviously, IT organizations are trying to increase the utilization
rates of their hardware infrastructure in a bid to reduce expenses. For
solution providers, this creates a potential problem because it means that less
money is being spent on servers and storage. And yet,
virtualization adds a lot of management complexity to the IT equation, which creates a lot of
consulting and managed service opportunities for the channel.

Interestingly, the No. 2 priority is business continuity services. The rise
of managed services and cloud computing has a lot to do with both
virtualization and the simple fact that IT organizations can no longer pay for
massive amounts of hardware that sits idle waiting for the occasional disaster.

Coming in third place is information lifecycle management, which basically
covers anything that has to do with storage. We all know that data growth is
exceeding the ability of IT organizations to keep pace.
That’s creating demand for any number of data storage management solutions.

Surprisingly, voice over IP came in fourth. There’s always been a lot of
hype around VOIP and unified communications, but it looks like all the buzz is
finally turning into real spending. The reason for this has a lot to do with
the current economic climate. Customers are looking for ways to make reduced
work forces more efficient. A focus on productivity means customers are willing
to adopt VOIP and related unified communications applications as part of a bid
to stay as competitive as possible.

Rounding out the top five in terms of IT spending priorities is business
intelligence. There are a lot of unresolved issues when it comes to business
intelligence, but clearly customers are highly committed as they look for certainty in these uncertain times.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 priorities are knowledge management
systems, storage and remote backup services, service-oriented architecture,
systems outsourcing, and compliance software.

From a solution provider’s perspective, the top 10 priorities of IT
organizations should serve as a blueprint for how to align their own practices.
In tough times like these, there’s not a lot of time for evangelical selling.
So the better part of valor is to make sure you’re giving the customers what
they want today if you want to be around tomorrow to sell them something else.

Mike Vizard is senior vice
president of market strategies and content services at Ziff Davis
and a regular contributor to Channel Insider.