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The fourth area of focus for solution providers going forward is the data center, especially networking and security, which for Tech Data has become a $6 billion-plus business in only five years, Dutkowsky said.
Those four areas are where the bulk of innovation is being done today, Dutkowsky said. "If you partner with us, I believe in the next five to ten years we won't be caught flat-footed by innovation," he said.
The biggest example of the impact those four areas of focus will make is in the cloud, Dutkowsky said.
"If you're not involved in consumer electronics, what are you going to attach to the cloud?" he said. "If you're not involved in mobility, how are you going to connect to the cloud? If you partner with us, we'll make sure you are ready for the cloud."
After his keynote presentation, Dutkowsky told CRN that he does not see the cloud as a unique departure from the computing continuum, but instead is a part of a slowly evolving process.
"With every generation of new technology, people think the older technology will disappear," he said. "Well, guess what? IBM last quarter has its best mainframe sales quarter ever."
Client devices can be seen in a similar vein, Dutkowsky said.
"Everybody says the tablet will replace the PC," he said. "I don't think so. PCs are built for specific purposes. When the market moves to providing more and more content, the PC is not the ideal platform. It's bulky to carry around. But try to watch a movie on a smart phone. It's too small. So there are tablets. Customers will need all three types of devices."
Furthermore, customers will continue to use cloud-based applications and "ground-based" applications, Dutkowsky said. "My daughter runs a small retail store," he said. "She runs her business on the ground, but her backups are done in the cloud."
Much of the investment in the cloud is still on the hardware side, giving solution providers many opportunities to help customers, Dutkowsky said. For instance, he said, 18 months ago there was no iPad, but now it's ubiquitous.
"That's hardware connecting to the cloud," he said. "Or look at Google buying Motorola. That's all hardware. The world needs hardware to deliver content and performance. You will still need devices to manage and deliver the content."
Twenty years ago, the tech agenda was set by the office, Dutkowsky said. "Now the agenda is set by the customer," he said. That's why it's so important for a company like us to be in consumer electronics."
Tech Data and Dutkowsky are showing that distribution is ready for the future, said John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based solution provider working with Tech Data and other distributors.
"As the industry is changing, they're changing with it," Convery said. "A VAR like Denali has a small team. To scale, we have to leverage distribution. Tech Data is looking at the key trends and making the investments needed to support us. All distributors are positioning themselves this way."