January 2011

Green mandate will firm up

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The key differentiators will remain guiding customers about best-fit solutions and unwavering focus on energy efficiency

2010 was the year of cloud computing—a phenomenon that Indian enterprises    welcomed and endorsed quicker than many had expected. This,    coupled with virtualisation, clearly reflected CIOs’ intentions to get the most out of each buck spent on IT infrastructure and to deliver on the mandate for reduced energy consumption at their organisations.

This represented a very new scenario for channel partners, wherein to stay  relevant, they had to differentiate themselves. The first step towards distinction  was the acquisition of newer skill sets that enabled them to sell  newer technologies to a set of customers who had radically changed their  approach towards buying IT. They gradually realised that up-selling i.e. offering  customised solutions that satisfied a particular customer’s specific  needs earned bigger profits, repeat business and better prospects for growth.  The realisation has changed the equation for channel partners, as the ability to  sell end-to-end solutions now also enables them to create an entry barrier for  their less competent counterparts. How the equation balances in 2011 will be  interesting to watch.

Cloud computing and virtualisation will continue to trigger growth in 2011, while the market will witness consolidation as the economy begins to reap the benefits to these technologies. It will be interesting  to observe how adoption and proliferation of 3G falls in place. Long Term Evolution or LTE, which is
a 3GPP 4G technology will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, and with  telecom bigwigs’ backing, it might just get quicker attention. We have observed  a clear trend among facility managers focusing on optimising operational expenses (OPEX) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), as opposed to an earlier  focus on capital expenditure (CAPEX). Consequently, green data centres have a bright future ahead in India.

Marketers will increase focus on the Internet as an alternative medium to push  their goods and gain more eyeballs. It will offer customers a secure and cheaper  medium to compare offerings and make informed decisions. The trend would be limited to certain product lines and to metros. On the same lines,  social marketing will also gain prominence. Vendors are expected to also adopt  retail as an effective medium for marketing IT products, with an objective to get  more footfalls and allow customers to ‘feel and buy.’

I expect the global economy to consolidate in 2011, and begin its trek  northwards. The worst is definitely behind us. Risk-averse credit institutions would be seen loosening their purse strings to offer credit to small and medium  businesses (SMBs) that are expected to be the growth drivers, especially in  emerging markets. ICT would again gain prominence as a tool for economic productivity, and the speed of execution would be the key. An expected GFI of  around 8-9 percent and the rise of SMBs will create a cascading effect to  reinforce growth in 2011.

Certain sectors such as infrastructure,  government and BFSI, which are key to the economy, recorded double digit growth. Overall, the market was upbeat  throughout the year but slow to pick up momentum. At present, all eyes are on  the infrastructure space. India needs much faster infrastructure growth than it  is currently witnessing. Our biggest challenge will lie in the proliferation of  robust infrastructure, arguably the single-most important element for equal  distribution of economic progress.

The key differentiators remain the same— guiding customers on the best  end-to-end solutions that fit their needs and an unwavering focus on energy efficiency.

The data centre bandwagon is a great opportunity for top-end system  integrators (SIs) and network solution providers (NSPs), provided they  augment their skill-sets in the space, and focus on selling end-to-end solutions.  Innovators will lead the market in 2011!

Vendors will need to encourage  channel partners to break out of the mould and adopt a solutions approach  towards the customers’ power needs. By doing so, one can help the channel  community to evolve as informed troubleshooters with an expertise in tackling uptime issues in one or more verticals.

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