ChannelNext Wraps Up Another Good Year
With the economy still soft, most of the channel was looking for ways to grow more business. This was at the core of the theme at this year’s ChannelNext events. Many VARS continue to cross over to the Managed Service side while exploring how they can profit from Cloud Computing. Most delegates felt that next year will see bigger growth from IT.
This year, ChannelNext West was held in Banff, Alberta. The setting provided a great environment for the channel to learn and exchange ideas on the hottest business topics. Rob Rae, Director of Partner Development and Operations at Level Platforms presented a clear roadmap to help VARS get into Managed Services using best practices. He invited VARS to work with level Platforms as they are willing and ready to help them migrate into a Managed Services business model. VARS need solutions like Level Platforms to offer managed services to their clients and produce the reporting necessary to demonstrate ROI.
Autotask’s Andrew Bearese also demonstrated another key indigent for managed services – a business operations solution to manage the MS contracts. VARS need comprehensive management solutions to deliver the services as well as products to their customers. Several companies have a piece of the puzzle but the race is on to make them all work together.
Hansaworld showcased their ERP solution that resellers can easily customize to operate their business while leveraging CRM tools. To complete the infrastructure, ibiz10 announced version 9.0 beta release of their e-commerce platform that allows VARS to check price and availability in real-time as well as buy over 800,000 products from the largest IT distributors.
These types of business-operation solutions and how well they integrate together will eventually become mission critical in helping VARS run their businesses more efficiently. Ibiz10 will be announcing more third-party integrations with their e-commerce platform in the coming year.
Social Networking was also a huge hit at the event. More vendors and VARS are looking to leverage a variety of social networking tools to communicate with their customers and market their business. Humphrey Ho of Agile Dudes, a key partner of TechnoPlanet’s Social Media Services, presented a vision of how IT companies can play in the Social Media space to win. Watch for a full range of services coming from TechnoPlanet to help both vendors and VARS to benefit from Social Networking.
IT Security is heating up as attacks increase on networks. The business loss due to hacker attacks racks up to billions of dollars each year. Kevin Krempulec of Kaspersky talked about what they are doing to stay ahead of the hacker curve and keep business data protected. As more mobile devices enter the workplace, business may be bracing themselves for the next wave of mobile attacks. IT Security being sold as part of managed services is also gaining momentum.
HP Networking Marketing Manager for Canada, Corey Copping, outlined their full product line and how VARS can leverage to meet all of their customers’ needs. With 3Com now fully absorbed, HP can deliver a solution for just about every market. Their open architecture allows VARS to mix and match solutions from other third party providers to deliver best-in-class solutions. It allows VARS to differentiate themselves and ultimately deliver a better solution while making more money.
Vice President and General Manager of Business Solutions for D-Link, Mark Ciprietti presented a value-alternative to the channel for networking solutions. Already with a dominant share of the retail business, D-Link wants more VARS to partner with them for SMB. They are offering an outstanding channel program to attract VARS. D-Link is also encouraging VARS to look into offering high-profit IT surveillance solutions to their customers.
As we have done throughout the year, we invited Derek Sardo of Rolling Thunder to talk about his success in developing and growing a managed services business. There are many vendors offering many solutions in the space, but knowing exactly how to pull it all together and deliver a successful business model to the end-users is mission critical. Once you find the right solution mix and partner with the right companies, you will need to brand your company as the trusted provider. Never forget to keep your customers informed regularly about what you did for them (to justify the monthly fee).
There were many more business opportunities presented by the 28 attending vendors. At each of these events, the VARS and vendors get a great opportunity to connect with each other to develop relationships and business partnerships over two days. Doing this in the middle of towering beautiful mountains, fresh air and elks (yes huge elks just roaming around the resort), made the experience enjoyable . We invite you to get to know these vendors because they can truly help you grow your business next year!
Check out all the vendor messages and the videos on www.ecntv.ca