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

You’ve entered the Ziff Davis Channel Zone, the newest web site in the family of technology offerings from Ziff Davis Media. Each day we’ll be bundling the latest news, reviews and features that most impact the channel with original interviews, analyses and strategy pieces designed to identify opportunities and help channel players grow revenues.

Here you’ll meet our contributors–journalists, market strategists and industry insiders–who’ll be tracking activities in the channel and offering insights, tips and techniques on everything from securing corporate networks with decoy intrusion detection systems to how to find and recover unrecorded revenue you may be losing on license agreements.

In the coming weeks, you’ll meet industry analyst Cheryl Currid, a long-time friend and columnist for Ziff Davis, who turns her critical eye on the opportunities presented by new product introductions. Our sales gurus, James P. Cecil and Mahan Khalsa will be dropping in regularly with insights and strategies for cultivating new customers and keeping current ones. Cecil is widely considered to be the father of “nurture marketing.” Khalsa, author of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play, plays hardball on sales: it’s not about what you’re selling, he’ll tell you, it’s all about listening to the customer.

Market strategist Teresa Lina will be here to offer strategies on how channel players can carve a niche and establish themselves as Number 1 in their market. And CRM analyst David Myron will be keeping an eye on channel opportunities as CRM trickles down from the enterprise into the SMB market.

Joe Panettieri will be keeping one eye on contract activity in the channel and another on the stock market. Watch for his Monday morning analyses on how the top 30 channel players did the previous week on Wall Street – including who won, who lost and why.. Joe will be back with us each Thursday with Contract Watch, a look at five new customer engagements and what you can do to cash in on similar projects. And each week, I’ll be bringing you a look at life In the Zone through case studies and interviews with channel and company execs.

The Ziff Davis Channel Zone arrives at a pivotal time for the business, one in which strategic information makes the difference between robust revenues and disappointing earnings.

After two and a half years of depressed earnings and dismal stock market performance, the US economy is roaring back at its fastest pace since 1984. The Department of Commerce reported just last week that the US gross domestic product (GDP) posted a 7.2 percent annual growth rate in the quarter ending September 30, more than double its 3.3 percent second quarter growth rate.

But what was more significant for the channel was the 11.1 percent rise in business spending in the third quarter. It was the second straight quarterly advance in business spending and the biggest increase since first quarter 2000. Enterprises, large and small, are spending money again and, as they do, they’re looking to integration projects that will enhance their business and secure their IT infrastructures.

In other good news last week, IBM Global Services drove Big Blue’s performance in the third quarter, helping IBM boost quarterly revenue to $21.5 billion, up from $19.8 billion in the third quarter last year. Helped by IBM’s acquisition of Price-Waterhouse Coopers Consulting in 2002, integration and consulting services contributed $10.4 billion, more than half of the third quarter total. And the outlook for the future is bright. According to a spokesperson for IBM, the company signed over $15 billion in contracts for services in the quarter ending September 30, winning significant outsourcing contracts from global companies like Proctor & Gamble and Ericcson, as well as Equifax, Qwest, and the state of California.

Symantec last month reported a stunning 32 percent increase in revenues over the same quarter last year with total revenues weighing in at a record-setting $429 million, proving there’s business to be had in security practices. Back in the fast track, Symantec is also back on the acquisition trail. Days before it reported earnings, Symantec added SafeWeb, developers of secure socket layer encryption for corporate networks, to its retinue.

Merger mania is beginning to return to the channel, as well. New Jersey-based Avaya Inc., a global provider of communications solutions, last week announced plans to grow its small to mid-sized business with the acquisition of Expanets, its largest US reseller in the SMB market, in a deal valued at $152 million.

We’re here to watch and report on events unfolding in the channel. Here you’ll find the mix of news, technology analysis, reviews and expert advice you need to effectively select products and market, sell and support technology solutions into businesses. Stop by every day, as we help you grow your business and achieve personal and professional success.