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Synnex hosted a vendor roundtable at its Varnex Fall Conference in Las Vegas this week and asked solution providers to Tweet in their questions for the panelists. The questions ranged from what the vendor executives see in the SMB market, what they'd like VARs to do better and what are the manufacturers doing to take share from Apple in the tablet market.
Panelists included Mike Abplanalp, director of channel sales at Lenovo; Brian Burch, vice president of Americas marketing, SMB & Cloud Worldwide, at Symantec; Simon Dudley, video evangelist at LifeSize Communications; Long Tran, director of technology and cloud at Microsoft; Tom Cahill, director of Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) distribution sales and Industry Standard Server channel sales at HP; and Kevin Murai, president and CEO of Synnex.
The following are excerpts from the conversation.
After several years driving the channel, how much opportunity is still left in the SMB space?
Burch: We [believe] IT spending worldwide will be almost $1 trillion next year. We see a downward shift in the size of companies. It creates challenges that we need to understand to serve a few dozen employees vs. hundreds of employees. Those companies will mature and grow. There's still a big opportunity.
Simon: I've been in the video conferencing business for 20 years and it's always been wait until it takes off next year. This is why video conferencing is about to take off: there was a fundamental shift three years ago. Three years ago, if you wanted video conferencing you needed $10,000 worth of hardware. Now every single person has a video conferencing system [in their phone or tablet], they just haven't enabled it yet. You can download the app and have a video call. Dr. [Robert] Metcalfe invented the Ethernet, and he said the utility of the network goes up squared by the number of nodes in it. Most end users are interested in video. Most partners are interested in video conferencing. It's a game-changing point.
Cahill: Our expectation from SMB is they want more. We're taking enterprise feature functionality to products that are a play in the SMB market. Our Generation 8 servers are more time driving business, not managing IT, and we're going to drive 3Par technology into an SMB play next year.
Murai: SMB is why all of us are here today. When we look at a macro view of where we've been, SMB has been the best performing segment for the past number of years, even through the 2008 recession, and that continues to be that way. In talking with a number of [Varnex members] the past couple of days, many are finding success specializing by technology platform or by specific market or vertical. There's whole sea of opportunity out there and when you look at how technology is shifting, whether it's mobility or cloud or more specifically with Windows 8 or Ultrabooks, that presents a lot of different options you can identify with and chase after. The same applies to different vertical markets as well. The opportunity is out there and is absolutely huge.