Mike Vizard

Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

In these tough economic times it’s easy to become a little overly despondent over future prospects. But with the annual Thanksgiving holiday staring us all in the face, now is as good a time as any to give thanks for 12 things should make the channel a more profitable place to work no matter how rough the economy gets in 2009:

Dysfunctional IT Departments
he truth is that a properly run IT department staffed with people with the right skills can almost always deliver a technology solution at a lower cost than an IT services company that has to turn a profit. The good news is that with a few notable exceptions, there are very few properly run IT departments.

Clueless Vendors
Given half a chance most vendors would rather sell direct to enjoy higher product margins while keeping all the services revenue for themselves. Thankfully, very few of them have a clue about how to approach a customer; especially in the context of selling a product that is actually only a piece of a larger solution.

Cash Rich Vendors
Customers may not have access to lots of capital, but large vendors still have lots of cash that many of them are using to finance pretty sweet deals.

Increased Complexity
New technologies such as virtualization promise to make everything easier and more flexible. But in reality they create a more dynamic computing environment, which is really code for a more volatile computing environment. Of course, any thing that is more volatile usually spells opportunity for IT services companies.

Managed Services
Most solution providers are still billing customers based on time and material. But managed service technologies are making their overall IT services business a lot more profitable because they are rolling fewer trucks to visit customers.

Cloud Computing
The reinvention of the hosted computing model should create opportunities for solution providers to shift from a managed services model that requires them to manage equipment on their customer’s premise to a model where all the computing assets are owned and managed by the solution provider. That should make servicing that equipment a whole lot easier and substantially more profitable.

With a new presidential administration comes a whole host of new regulations that will require customers to invest more in governance and risk management technologies.

Business Intelligence
Most customers were blind-sided by the economic downturn, so now they want to make sure that doesn’t happen again, especially now that they know how fragile the business really is in terms of what even small disruptions in the supply chain can mean to the sustainability of the overall enterprise.

As the economy declines, crime rates tend to rise. The folks perpetrating these attacks have more sophisticated tools that can now target specific people and types of users. That means customers desperately need better risk management systems than the ones they deployed to fight relatively simple virus attacks.

Storage Management
No matter how many people get laid off, the amount of data that needs to be managed keeps growing in volume and complexity.

IT Automation Tools
The ability to manage more customers using the same number of IT services people by relying more on IT automation is going to be the key to profitability in 2009. Whether it is database upgrades, new productivity applications or enterprise application upgrades, a raft of new software in 2009 will eventually force some customer upgrades as customers start to understand the maintenance and license fee penalties associated with not keeping their IT environments current.

No one is likely to remember the past year fondly. But the truth of the matter is that things could be a whole lot worse. That may be hard for some folks to believe. But for those of us that have lived through a few earlier recessions, the collapse of the dot.com technology industry and terrorist attacks that sent the markets reeling, the current challenges we face may be daunting but they also are far from catastrophic. So when you sit down to give thanks this week, make sure you remember that life is what you make of your opportunities.

Michael Vizard is a member of the Ziff Davis Enterprise
market experts group and a regular columnist for Channel Insider.