Big Changes Ahead for IT Channel Companies, Breakaway 2012 Attendees Told

Aug 02, 2012, 11:30 ET from CompTIA

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- CompTIA Breakaway 2012, the information technology (IT) channel's premier education event, continued here Wednesday with a range of discussions on how IT companies can survive and thrive In a world where bring you own device, cloud computing and mobility are rapidly changing the corporate technology landscape.

Breakaway 2012 speakers were virtually unanimous in their belief that IT channel companies face a myriad of challenges in navigating a market where new products, applications and services are introduced almost daily; and where IT departments have ceded some ownership of a company's technology infrastructure to business line owners and C-level executives.

"The prevailing attitude is I'm not waiting for IT to catch up. I'm going to buy what I want, connect to the network and check my email," said Doug Smith, vice president, partner strategy and operations, VMware, during Wednesday's Channel Chiefs Power Panel.

Sheila O'Neil, vice president, channel sales, Panasonic System Communications Company, noted that the workplace now includes a mix of products from both the consumer and business worlds. Each of them have to be on and reliable, regardless of what the device is, where it is and how it's being used.

Janet Schijns, vice president, vertical solutions and channels, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said smart people have created a myriad of new devices and applications, but they have little insight into how customers are using their technologies. That's a role the IT solution provider can fill.

Opportunities for solution providers in this new market fall into several categories, according to Raja Sundaram, vice president, worldwide services partner organization, Cisco Systems, Inc. They include device management, implementing security policies and creating customized experience for customers.

But Breakaway attendees also were told the transition may not be easy for them. Many companies will need to implement new strategies for marketing and pricing, retrain or replace existing staff and accelerate their development of new applications, solutions and other intellectual property to remain competitive. Channel partners pledged to help.

"We owe it to you to help you change and transform your business and we have the capabilities to do that," Joe Quaglia, senior vice president, U.S. marketing, Tech Data Corporation, during the Distributor Power Panel.

Distributors can "insulate the channel from complexity" so they can work better with their customers, he said. The assistance distributors can provide goes well beyond being a source for products and services, but extends into areas such as lead generation, HR, marketing and pre- and post-sales tech support.

Wild Card Session on M&As

During Breakaway's Wild Card Session, presenters Samuel Attias, managing partner, Technology Capital Investors, and Rick Murphy, managing partner, Cogent Growth Partners, gave attendees an insider's perspective on what really goes on behind the curtain when buyers are considering purchasing an IT services business. The M&A process really comes down to building trust – on both sides. Sellers and buyers need to aim for transparency.

When presented with a new M&A possibility, Murphy advises, "Think opportunity first, money last." Ask yourself why put the two companies together; ask what are the opportunities and value proposition. Later on you can discuss the money end.

Breakaway Education Sessions Continue

Attendees also participated in sessions on audiovisual integration opportunities; strategies for, entering new vertical markets; how technology vendors can help their channel partners transform to cloud solution providers; selling into the government market; doing business in Europe; and partnerships opportunities for telecom agents and IT solution providers.

The CompTIA Research team presented a round-up of recent and future market intelligence on technology trends, business model transformations and industry vertical markets. Topics included cloud computing, retail sector tech adoption, mobility, channel partner-vendor engagement and program trends and unified communications. Attendees also got a preview of CompTIA's next major study, on big data, scheduled for publication in September.

Breakaway 2012 concludes today. Visit CompTIA Events to learn more.

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