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The U.S. economic situation is mirrored in some, but not all, parts of the world. Certain regions are growing and a number of developing nations are investing heavily in IT, said Mark Hanny, vice president of strategic partners at IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y. (VARBusiness Vendor 40 No. 1), which garnered 65 percent of its 2007 revenue outside the U.S.
"I think you're very quickly going to see ... quicker adoption in other countries such as Vietnam," Hanny said. "Last year, 35 percent of businesses in China were buying [IT] systems. We are helping ISVs and partners in the United States sell into these high-growth countries."
Smaller solution providers can partner with larger integration or consulting firms such as IBM or team up with in-country providers to address new geographies, Hanny said. IT buyers in less developed lands generally are looking for open standards and open-source solutions, he noted. IBM is heavily increasing its presence as a consulting firm and as a vendor partner to other integrators in areas such as Vietnam, China and South Africa.
"They are working with IBM to operate in global markets," he said.
Closer to home, a number of solution providers are heeding the lure of ongoing revenue that managed services deliver. Xerox Corp. (VARBusiness Vendor 40 No. 10) has focused much of its funds and marketing energy on promoting managed print services, said Tom Gall, director of value channel marketing at the Stamford, Conn.-based print vendor and services firm.
Hosted services such as Software-as-a-Service continue to grow, fueled partly by corporate downsizing that eliminates or reduces IT departments. In fact, hosted services are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 7 percent through 2012, increasing not only in frequency, but also in complexity and scope, according to In-Stat Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.
Already in use by midsize firms, enterprises are expected to adopt this approach to technology, benefiting both solution providers accustomed to serving this market and MSPs looking to break into large corporations, experts said.
Through September 10, 2001, IPLogic garnered almost 80 percent of its business from the public sector and had little to no presence in the small- and midsize-business arena, Yanneck recalled. "Before 9/11, most of our business was public sector," he said. "After 9/11, we made a decision, for the safety of the business, to diversify."
The solution provider extended into health care and reached out to the more than 90 higher education institutions in its geographic region. In 2005, IPLogic acquired a solution provider that focused on SMBs, which almost immediately transformed the firm's customer-base breakdown, Yanneck said. "Our three core verticals--public sector, health care and education--probably account for less than 70 percent of sales," he added.
"We've already suffered. The benefit of being in this [geographic] market is we've already been through the down times," Yanneck said.
Wherever they call home and no matter the state of their local economies, those channel professionals able to adapt and prove the value of their solutions and services should be able to weather the storm.
Alison Diana, a freelance writer in Merritt Island, Fla., has been reporting on the channel for more than 19 years.
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