The dramatic shift in the digital economy is creating challenges for many organizations but there’s significant potential upside for channel partners, says one industry insider.

Like every other organization, channel players must adapt and find new ways to generate revenue in the cloud-driven world. The good news is that there will be a real need for consulting and value added services due to the complexity of next generation technologies, Richard McLeod, global vice president at Blackberry told participants at a recent ITWC webinar. “There is an opportunity for channel partners to grow their professional services from four to six times.”

That could be a big piece of the pie given that the Internet of Things alone is estimated to create $4 trillion in value by 2015, 70 per cent of it in the business market.

“The opportunities that this transition creates for nimble and aggressive channel partners are exciting,” said Mcleod. Sponsored by Blackberry and hosted by ITWC CIO Jim Love, the webinar looked at current market realities and some lessons from Blackberry’s transformation.

Securing the Enterprise of Things

With the big shift toward mobile, software as a service and cloud, channel partners can bring value to the market as solution providers rather than resellers, said McLeod.

“Everyone is wrestling with the growth of connected things and the security issues this is creating,” he said. “We have two huge dynamics crashing into each other.”

There is an explosion in the number of devices connected to the Internet with the market moving very quickly into wearables and intelligent sensors, said McLeod. Ten million new things are connected per day, and by 2020, it’s expected that there will be over 20 billion connected things. Since the majority of them will be in the business market, McLeod refers to this as the “enterprise of things.”

At the same time, all of those devices need to be protected against the “astronomical growth” in cyber attacks. New business models are compounding the problem, said McLeod. Companies need to communicate beyond the firewall to share information with supply chain partners, contractors and temporary employees. “It’s not about securing the network and the hardware anymore,” said McLeod. “They need to protect the security of their information and their brand.”

Many customers don’t have the skill set to deal with all of this. Half of the CEOs in large companies say they don’t feel prepared for a cyber attack and 82 per cent of boards say they’re concerned about security.

This creates a huge opportunity for channel partners, said McLeod.

Wanted:  channel partners

As vendors undergo their own transformations, they need channel partners to help them grow in new markets, said McLeod. This is the case for Blackberry, which has reinvented itself, shifting its focus from hardware to software and security services that address the entire enterprise. Channel partners will need to make the same transition, from moving product to providing software and services, said Love.

If they can do that, there are greater opportunities to be involved in every customer conversation and to develop recurring revenue, said McLeod. He added that Blackberry’s suite of services also gives partners the ability to create profitable custom applications for customers.

“It’s a compelling opportunity as you shift to providing true business value.”



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