NexTI 2012: Solution Providers In Search Of the Next Big Thing4:00 PM EST Mon. Nov. 05, 2012
Solution providers gathered in Las Vegas in late October for the NexTI Conference to discover the next big thing. Several hundred technology strategists joined with vendors and industry experts to discuss the future of cloud, mobility, big data and social media while looking at promising tech opportunities as well. Solution providers delivered insight into how they're helping customers solve business problems with those and other innovative products that yield a high ROI. In the coming pages, you'll see case studies presented at NexTI by members of the XChange Advisory Board, part of the event's peer-to-peer content section.
Jeremy MacBean, Ph.D., director of business development at high-tech consultancy IT Weapons focused on BYOD to answer the following questions: Do you have clients interested in BYOD initiatives? Wondering how you can add value? Want to help them avoid a BYOD disaster? Award-winning solution provider IT Weapons shared some candid experience and insight on how to help your clients find the gains and avoid the pains of bringing consumer devices into their corporate networks.
Peter Valters, general manager of Empowered Networks, explained how the systems integrator solved a major Wi-Fi problem for the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corp. The organization operates interactive exhibits and programs in three museums in Ottawa and welcomes more than 700,000 people a year. Wi-Fi access was required throughout all three museum locations throughout an area spanning hundreds of square feet across 14 separate buildings. The spec required support for up to a thousand simultaneous connections at each site, and the system needed to be visually unobtrusive so as not to distract attention from the exhibits. Museums have strong affinity with environmental concerns; reducing power consumption and waste were key requirements.
David Geevaratne, president of IT services company New Signature, explained how solution providers can profit from the public cloud. Drawing an analogy with Peter Frampton's pivotal work "Frampton Comes Alive!," Geevaratne explained the potential of public-cloud solutions to launch an organization to rock-star status in the eyes of customers and employees. By providing customers transformational technologies and helping them work more efficiently, solution providers can earn more money than with traditional solutions and increase customer and employee satisfaction.
In a case study titled "Gain a Competitive Edge by Analyzing Big Data," Stan Duda, CEO of information services firm Alpine Consulting, explained how his company helped MoneyGram do just that. Using IBM's Identity Insight, Alpine transformed the focus of money transfers from transaction-based to customer-based, enabling MoneyGram to identify patterns and networks associated with criminal activities such as fraud and terrorism. To date, the solution has stopped more than $85 million in fraudulent transactions, often in near-real time. Duda explained how the solution can be applied to organizations as varied as financial services, law enforcement, social services and other state and local government agencies -- anywhere that big data is present in high volume, velocity and variety.
Rick Jordan is director of sales and strategic alliances at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-area VAR specializing in IT solutions. Jordan explained how his company's mobility practice has enabled his firm to engage with clients located around the globe and in multiple vertical markets. His case study centered on a simple client meeting and an idea, which turned into an award-winning mobile application for crisis and emergency management. Jordan also explained how strong vendor relationships can result after experiencing agonizing pains.
John Krikke, vice president of Canadian IT solution provider Onward Computer Systems, presented straight talk about the transformational journey of a traditional SMB reseller, with all the associated bumps and bruises. His presentation was straightforward and provided insight into business model changes that are on the minds of many solution providers. Among the big issues addressed were sales compensation, recruiting the right employees and impacts on profitability.
Jeff Reich, chief risk officer at Layered Technologies, a hosting and managed service provider based in Plano, Texas, asserted during his session that regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, FISMA, plus industry standards and policies affect more and more of what companies do, and that many cannot build or buy the expertise needed to deal with issues surrounding compliance. He explained that for the reseller, numerous opportunities exist to offset the burden of compliance issues and allow companies to focus on growing their business.
It should not be difficult to guess what this session was about. According to Sarah Ducharme, founder of MSP Symtegrity, the big issues surrounding the cloud these days are security and control. Driven by requests from customers to create a place to test new software and rescue their dead servers, Symtegrity built its own private-cloud platform in 2008, and it has been reaping the benefits and suffering the drawbacks of maintaining its own cloud business. Attendees of this session benefited from these experiences and learned best practices for moving existing customers to the cloud and how to keep them happy there.
Speaker Quy "Q" Nguyen, CEO of telecom solutions provider Allyance Communications, conveyed how a simple cloud discussion uncovered new opportunities for colocation, disaster recovery, network services, professional services and hardware-as-a-service. He shared some of the financials of a recently closed deal including the monthly, yearly and three-year annuity created. His overarching message to attendees was that much of his company's success was tied to hiring individuals who understand how to sell annuity-based services, such as former communications workers from companies like AT&T.