It is funny how a new year comes in and automatically people believe change is in the air. Yes, the year changes, but as an industry true change does not happen over night or when the ball drops in Time Square.
I was in Cuba during the New Year and this country is starting a year long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the revolution that swept Fidel Castro and Communism into power. Now, a revolution is dramatic change. In the IT channel, if you exclude what Dell did last year, we are looking at more or less the same issues.
For example, virtualization will be a hot button topic again this year. Whether it is server or storage virtualization, it will be a factor because customers understand that they can do the same or more, while saving money, by implementing this strategy. As a solution provider, this opportunity means that you have to differentiate yourself by standing out in the crowd. More and more solution providers will be offering virtualization services because there is money to be made here. How you differentiate yourself will be the key to your success.
All forms of security will again be in the spotlight for 2008. All the vendors will be leapfrogging themselves to get your attention as a solution provider. What I would focus on here is playing one vendor off the other. This market is hotly contested.
CES starts the year and consumer electronics and the cross over with IT will continue. The thing to realize here is that CE products carry bigger margins, but they won’t forever. As a solution provider you have to decide now if you want to develop a CE/home integrated IT practice.
This will be the year to either go full bore into CE or leave it behind.
I think the Linux movement will get stronger this year. Last year it made significant strides. Now that the SCO mess is over the Linux backers such as Novell can fully focus on creating new business opportunities for the channel. Customers are going to look at Linux in a new light and solution providers should be ready to take advantage of that.
The IT talent shortage was a huge topic last year and I do not see it dying off anytime soon. Cisco, among others, is trying to put a dent in this problem. Canadian immigration could also help. The fact of the matter is we, as an industry, are not close to making up the gap. Those solution providers that think outside the box here may be able to solve their own problems, but industry-wide the shortfall will again be a major issue.
Storage will again be front and centre in the solution mix for resellers. Storage will be more a problem of access rather than anything strategic to a customer’s IT environment.
Lastly, unified communications will be getting more play in customer budgetary meetings so those resellers that have the expertise, the vendor partnerships and more importantly the competencies to deliver unified communications that make a business impact quickly will have a great year.
On the horizon for 2008 is Microsoft’s long awaited Longhorn OS. The question is will that deliver sales? The jury is still out on Vista, but Longhorn may prove to have more impact for solution providers than Vista. The year has just started and we will see if it is more of the same or if some kind of a revolution is happening.