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.