With 2015 already in full swing and 2014 a distant memory, it’s a great time to look toward the upcoming year and plan for the next twelve months.
Any and all technology trends will have an impact on the channel in some shape or form. From networking and storage to the internet of things and big data, channel partners need to keep abreast of all the major trends in the IT world to ensure they do not get left behind.
Internet of Things (IoT)
According to a recent study, the number of devices connected to the internet surpassed the number of people in existence in 2008. This number is expected to reach 50bn by 2020. These are not just portable interfaces like laptops or smart phones; they are sensors, cars, and even alarm clocks. As IoT becomes more widespread channel partners will inevitably have to address the issues that go alongside this, for example security issues and more points of failure. Customers will expect channel partners to not only understand the landscape but act as an advisor that can guide them through the advent of IoT.
Morgan Stanley predicts that as many as 200 more ‘things’ could become connected. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas we saw internet-connected plant pots, batteries and rings. Now with even sheep and cattle having been added to the list, it seems Morgan Stanley might have underestimated the genius of today’s innovators. Gartner predicts that the global market for the sale and usage of IoT devices will reach USD$1.9 trillion by 2020, with manufacturing (15%), healthcare (15%) and insurance (11%) leading the charge.
More effective use of big data
Data is constantly being collected from these devices, leaving us with vast amounts of information, accumulating at an accelerating pace. The earlier you deal with this information, the faster you will be able to use it to your advantage. There are plenty of analytics solution companies available if you don’t have the time or expertise to figure out how to do this. It is also important to streamline the amount of data you collect and that you stop gathering anything unnecessary. Channel partners can help customers establish the exact solutions they need to meet their data requirements.
Taking advantage of mobility and the growing number of screens and sensors in your business will be a central focus this year. Making your work applications as tailored to your requirements as possible, and efficient and easy to use will boost productivity, allow for better decision-making across the board, improve the quality of information you receive, and enhance your ability to track projects and tasks.
Technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) have gained massive momentum in previous years and IDC has predicted that the worldwide SDN market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments alone will grow from $360 million in 2013 to $4.7bn by 2016.
Businesses can now virtualize and automate their entire operating environment from servers to networking, and software-defined everything is establishing an important foundation that allows businesses to be truly agile in the way they deliver IT services. What’s more, open networking solutions, which don’t force vendor lock-in, allow businesses even greater flexibility for future expansion. As businesses become more flexible the role of the channel partner can increase exponentially, with customers requiring more direction and advice on implementing whole IT environments. This gives partners more opportunity to place themselves as trusted advisors.
Security always pops up on lists of important trends – but there is a reason for that. Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and ruthless, so security needs to be the highest priority for any organisation. Businesses are beginning to realise there is no way to 100% guarantee the safety of their information. This year we will likely see a trend of self-reliant work applications with integrated security mechanisms as organisations find it increasingly difficult to establish secure digital perimeters around their networks. With security spending consistently increasing channel partners can look to offer their customers additional security solutions on top of hardware offerings. This can not only increase their potential revenue, but also ensure their solutions remain attractive and competitive.
2015 will undoubtedly be another exciting year for technology with remarkable implications for businesses and individuals. One thing we can know for sure is that channel partners that stay on top of these trends will be the ones that benefit most. Ensuring a benchmark for technology across the channel will allow for efficient communication and integration regarding new processes, products and services. 2015 presents a real opportunity to take a step forward with your partners and improve your channel relationships.