The big technology vendors are taking a hard look in the mirror and cloud computing has crossed the proverbial chasm--and those are just two of the factors that will shape the technology landscape in the new year. Here are six predictions as to what IT channel partners and their small to midsize business (SMB) clients can expect in 2016.
1. Big technology vendors will make big changes.
The new technology ecosystem being forged by the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon is forcing many large technology vendors to rethink their strategies. Analyst firm IDC projects that by 2020, about 30% of today’s major tech suppliers will no longer exist as we know them today. Many will consolidate to increase profits, separate into smaller units to grow faster, or both. For example, Dell is doing both by consolidating with EMC while at the same time spinning off units like SecureWorks. HP has taken a key step toward becoming more focused by splitting into two companies. Others will need to transform as well.
2. Channel partners will need to focus on industry regulations.
The coming year will see revisions to regulatory compliance mandates such as HIPAA, FISMA and PCI DSS. IT channel partners will need to provide clients with technology options that support efforts to comply with these mandates. That means support for airtight security measures like offsite backup for disaster recovery, encryption of customer data and physically secure data centers.
3. Cloud computing to become the new normal.
IT research firm IDC reports that the market for cloud-based technology will more than double by 2018 to $127 billion. This presents a great opportunity for channel partners to deliver cloud solutions that support the shifting needs of modern businesses. To achieve success, channel partners will need to be nimble and avoid vendor lock-in when guiding SMB clients into the era of the cloud.
4. Insiders will continue to be the weakest security link.
Many of the security problems and disasters faced by today’s small businesses stem from the actions of their own employees. It could be a disgruntled insider looking to wreak havoc, or an innocent party who accidentally clicks the wrong link and unleashes a nasty computer virus. In 2016, small businesses and the channel partners who support them will need to combat the problem by revisiting existing security policies, focusing on education and making sure business-critical data is always backed up.
5. IT budgets will get even tighter.
If this year’s slowdown in IT spending is any indication, SMBs will continue to cut costs and get creative with resources in 2016. As a result, channel partners will need to make a strong business case for new technology. They’ll also have to make it as easy as possible for clients to invest in solutions that are easy to deploy, use and manage. The best channel partners will excel at developing comprehensive bundles of products and services that address specific problems.
6. More SMBs will turn to hybrid backup.
In 2015, only 30% of small businesses backed up data to the cloud, according to a survey conducted by the online IT community Spiceworks. But interest in the cloud is growing fast. Spiceworks found that 54% of small businesses are using a hybrid strategy that combines local backup with the ultimate protection of having data stored off premises in the cloud. Expect a continuing trend toward hybrid backup in 2016.
Jessica Couto is Vice President of North American Channel Sales and Marketing at Carbonite, a provider of powerful yet simple cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Guest blogs such as this are published monthly as part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.