The strategic team at Ingram Micro Cloud has helped me out as we look forward to 2013, providing me with a laundry list of their predictions around cloud in the coming year. One theme running through their bullet points is opportunity for cloud sales in the channel.
The team advises that as businesses, particularly SMBs, struggle to identify the right way to leverage cloud, and then the right cloud solutions for their business needs, they will look to the experts (that’s you). Not only will solution providers across the industry need to have their cloud strategy in place, their cloud services line cards need to robust enough to serve different sized businesses, multiple verticals (we’ll talk more about verticals and the cloud later this week), and with varying degrees of ownership. Some cloud solutions will be aggregated through distributors such as Ingram Micro, others will be private hosted offerings straight from VARs and system integrators. Either way, the best way to stay relevant is to create a bundle of commonly desired cloud solutions – much like the managed services offerings many have now – that simplify the choices your customers face and allow you to build competencies and efficiencies around delivery of those cloud services.
Other changes to your business will be increased competition as convergence continues. Expect to see not only ISVs and software vendors trying to go direct, but expect new faces from adjacent industries such as telecom starting to jump the fence to offer IT outsourcing that is now tied closely to cloud. That increased competition is likely to extend the consolidation and M&A activity that gained momentum the entire second half of 2012; IT providers that haven’t evolved may go under or get snatched up by larger MSPs and VARs.