Ask any VARBusiness 500 executive and they'll tell you that you don't succeed by selling technology. You do it by selling solutions. Clients don't care about the next hot technology; they care about their businesses, and if you can help them solve a business problem, they won't care if you did it with the technology everyone's talking about today or with one that everyone was talking about five years ago.
On the other hand, technology is the building block on which VARs build solutions. Technology is usually hot for a reason, and the number of different types of technology a solution provider has at its command will often determine the range and scope of the solutions they can offer to their clients.
The bottom line: While your clients don't care about the next big thing, you have to. The technology that this uber group--the VARBusiness 500--is looking at hints at what's coming down the pike in the next 12 months.
As far as major trends, our 2007 VARBusiness 500 research confirmed what most of the channel is already thinking.
Storage was far and away the most important technology, ranking first by almost every metric, and often by a large margin. About 75 percent of the VARBusiness 500 work with storage hardware, 42 percent lead with storage when making a sale, and 45 percent rank it in the top three technologies increasing in importance to their overall businesses.
"Storage-based projects are high-value, from the customer and reseller perspectives," says Dan Schinsky, vice president of Enterprise Solutions at Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Relational Technology Solutions (VARBusiness 500 No. 115). "It's the heart of that body. If you don't have data, you have nothing."
Security technology--both hardware and software--is another unsurprising presence near the top of the tech list. Given efforts to shift the focus of security away from the network perimeter, combined with falling margins on hardware, it's clear why software ranked higher than security appliances.
In 2006, security software ranked third out of 19 categories in terms of its growing importance among the VARBusiness 500, with almost 31 percent placing it in the top three. Appliances ranked No. 6, with just over 14 percent.
In this year's VARBusiness 500 survey, 68 percent said they work with security software, 75 percent of whom have added a security software vendor in the past year and 67 percent of whom expect to in the next; about 62 percent work with appliances, 70 percent of whom have recently added a vendor and 55 percent of whom plan to do that in the next 12 months.
"Security is just a constant," says Augustine Riolo, COO and CFO at Virginia Beach, Va.-based Knowledge Information Solutions (No. 457). "It's pretty trend-resistant, because it's always got to be there. Whenever people add new applications or complexity, there's more to secure."
NEXT: The next batch of hot technologies.