IDC Fellow on the Innovation Imperative

Michelle Bailey tells Channel Partners Conference attendees they must be forward-thinking to survive

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

April 11, 2019

3 Min Read
Michelle Bailey at CPLV19

(Pictured above: IDC’s Michelle Bailey on the keynote stage at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 11.)

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — It wasn’t that long ago that we saw a phase of technology innovation and disruption around second platform technologies like big data, mobility and analytics. That phase was about breaking down siloes and enabling technology to be consumed across the entire enterprise. But we’re at a tipping point right now where third platform tech like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) is about to once again disrupt the way organizations structure their businesses.

So says Michell Bailey, group vice president and general manager at research firm IDC. Bailey gave a keynote speech at Channel Partners Conference in Las Vegas on Thursday titied “The Innovation Imperative.”

“If it feels like there’s a lot of change going on, it’s because there is,” said Bailey.

Organizations today are looking to bring all of these emerging technologies together to explore ways they can multiply results for their organization. The top business goals that IDC hears from enterprises are a need to innovate, to invest in R&D, and deliver digital over physical products. The one thing no one is talking about that used to always lead that list? Cutting costs. That’s great news for channel partners.

But Bailey cautioned that traditional agents and managed service providers (MSPs) can’t rest on their laurels. IDC is talking a lot to the “long tail” of service providers that break that general “managed services” market down like Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers, colocation providers and cloud brokers. The firm found that service providers have plans dramatically shifting their business models over the next two years.

For example, of the 30 percent of partners that identified as independent software vendors (ISVs) today, only nine percent of them expect to maintain that business model over the next two years. Of all respondents to the IDC survey, only 17 percent said they didn’t have plans to evolve their business model. Everyone, says Bailey, is moving toward services.

That’s reflective of end customers, too. For example, while only four percent of organizations have implemented AI initiatives today, a full 40 percent have plans to add AI to their operations in the next two years. Such growth is astounding.

“The world is not static,” said Bailey. “There’s no one route for customers to get them where they want to go.”

The IDC research shows that cloud is far and away the tech that’s driven the most innovation and disruption. Multi-cloud is the name of the game, and customers need help migrating and managing ongoing maintenance of multi-cloud environments, which is good news for partners looking for sticky customers.

They’re also looking for service providers to secure those environments, and security in 2019 is a far cry from what it was just a few years ago.

“This is no longer the world of McAfee and Symantec…of firewalls and anti-virus,” said Bailey. Instead, it’s the providers like Kaspersky, Zscaler, Alert Logic and a lot of other companies many partners haven’t yet heard of.

MSPs need to be focused on services like risk management, penetration testing and third-party application testing, and they should expect customers to consider them as part of their risk exposure. They’ll want to look at their MSP’s financials, SOC and employees to reassure themselves they’re working with partners that can be trusted with their company data.

The days of the old-school IT generalist are fading fast in our rearview mirror. Tomorrow’s partners have to move up the stack, specialize in niche services, know their security and be able to nimbly work in a multicloud environment. This type of innovation won’t be optional. For partners looking to succeed, it’s an imperative.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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