We are seeing the technology industry shifting gear when it comes to next-generation technologies. It’s an exciting time for the IT industry; we are experiencing a major technological evolution.
I’m all in favour of this change as my time and focus is spent helping Avnet’s partners evolve and grow their businesses. More than most, I see first-hand how change can be difficult at the best of times. It requires great courage for a business to change the formula that has made it successful. But in truth, when it comes to IT, the formula that made us successful in the past is not the same formula for our future success. Channel partners need to branch out and try new things with new technologies. They might need different skills, a different message or even different customers. But of course, despite what you might read, change doesn’t happen overnight.
All the channel partners I help have established businesses that are run by very savvy leaders who know that change needs to be planned for. I find partners have a very measured approach to change. This doesn’t mean there is no risk, but the risk is known as much as possible. At a fundamental level, the challenge many of our business partners face is balancing resources. You need the precise amount of the right skills and tools, versus what the customers are prepared to pay for.
This is where I been really busy helping our partners. They have contracted in Avnet’s skills and resources either to branch out into new technologies and markets, or to service their core business, so they can free up their own resources to pursue new opportunities. By using Avnet’s resources on a contractual basis, partners have minimised their fixed cost base, and yet still been able to experiment with new markets and find new ways to innovate and differentiate.
Our mutually successful and long standing relationship with CSI illustrates this perfectly. Roy Struthers, CSI’s Business Development Director noted, “Avnet’s IT services is an integral part of our success at CSI Group. Being able to leverage a pool of trusted and skilled resources to broaden our in-house capabilities (both with scale and additional technologies), gives us significant competitive advantage and allows us to drive incremental software business. Additionally, the white-labelled service offerings from Avnet complement CSI’s comprehensive Managed Services offerings, allowing CSI to support non-core solutions without an upfront investment in skills.”
It is not just professional and managed services that are keeping us busy. Avnet’s training division, Avnet Academy, has been providing business partners with the latest IT training and guiding their journey towards certification. Plus we are still at the fore front of data centre, security and enterprise networking solutions. But the thrill for me is the shift towards next-generation technology. I’m having conversations with business partners around cloud, DevOps, data analytics, cognitive computing, mobility solutions and the Internet of Things (IoT).
When it comes to cloud, there are so many ways we are helping business partners explore new opportunities. We have always been able to provide the hardware and software to build hybrid cloud environments. Less well known is that we have developed our own middleware automation tool (Talos) for moving to and from cloud environments. And of course Avnet has launched the Avnet Cloud Market Place, which allows business partners to have their own branded cloud store front, to sell many cloud based solutions including software-as-a-service (SaaS).
One of the areas that really excites me is IoT. The opportunity for business partners to differentiate themselves through innovation is immense. Avnet has developed an IoT platform called Visible Things. In the simplest terms, this is a brilliant IoT proof-of-concept solution. Let’s say you have a customer who wants to internet enable their product. This requires design, engineering, software development, etc. What the Visible Things platform does, is that it provides you with two component boards, one containing lots of different sensors, and the other is a gateway. The gateway takes you to a cloud platform where we can help you build custom dashboards and demonstrate IoT as a proof-of-concept.
Of course the big thing on the back of IoT is data analytics. When your end devices generate data, it’s how you use that data that really adds value. Some of the projects we are working on in this area are so exciting; not because the technology is new, or that it is going to drive new revenue streams for business partners, but because it is about to revolutionise the way we live, work and play. Now more than ever, a great partnership with your IT distributor will accelerate your success faster in next-generation technologies; those that support them and those born of them.
Simon Stevens is Avnet’s cloud & managed services business development manager, with over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry. Simon assists partners to effectively run their customers’ business through the provision of tailored cloud and managed service solutions, and by augmenting gaps in their portfolio with experts in IT and cloud solutions.