COMDEXvirtual: Top 10 Channel Trends For 2013

The Future Of The Channel

At COMDEXvirtual, UBM Channel CEO Robert Faletra talked about what industry trends and opportunities solution providers can expect next year. Here are some highlights from his wide-ranging discussion with Robert DeMarzo, senior vice president of strategic content at UBM Channel.

Cloud Computing

Despite the cloud trend, the reality is that IT departments still buy a lot of infrastructure the traditional way, according to Faletra. To that end, solution providers shouldn't dump their existing business models completely for the cloud. Instead, solutions architecture will be a big trend in 2013, giving solution providers the opportunity to build hybrid solutions that include cloud-based components.

Sales Shift

A lot of cloud-based revenue is happening outside of IT; lines of business are driving cloud deployments. For solution providers, this means a change in the way they sell. They need to be able to sell outside of the IT organization, which requires developing relationships with the head of sales, finance or human resources. "You have to be in sync with your customers and you're going to have to sell to more pieces of the organization," Faletra said.

BYOD Trend

With employees wanting to use their personal devices at work, many companies are piloting programs in which they provide employees with an allowance to buy a mobile device of their choosing. The new generation of workers wants to be able to use the technology they like instead of settling for whatever device the company issues. For employees, "it's all about being able to access information anytime, anywhere on a device" that's most convenient to them, Faletra said.

Mobile Opportunities

Companies that allow personally owned mobile devices into the network are grappling with a variety of issues. How can they wipe the device of sensitive corporate information if it's lost or stolen? How do they back up corporate data on the device? What do they do about security? For the channel, this is an opportunity to sell services to help organizations manage the BYOD trend.

Desktop Virtualization

Companies are looking to bring business intelligence that's on the network to any device. A lot of intelligence is locked up in the network and inaccessible to those who need it, but "desktop virtualization is going to unlock that," Faletra said. Being able to access business intelligence and analytics applications on a handheld device can help give companies a competitive advantage.

Industry Specialization

Solution providers will need to specialize in an industry vertical such as retail or manufacturing for future success. The more a solution provider understands a vertical market and its needs, the better he or she can put together new solutions that provide a competitive advantage. All customers are looking for ways IT can give them a competitive advantage.

New Business Models

Traditional VAR models are shifting. The "vintage VAR" that focuses on more traditional one-off on-premise sales is giving way to the "progressive VAR" that has some traditional business but wants to build more recurring revenue business. The progressive model makes up the bulk of today's channel at approximately 65 percent. The "transformative VAR" -- typically a younger solution provider well versed in the cloud -- also is a growing portion of the channel.

Vendor Partner Programs

In 2013, we'll see a dramatic shift in the way vendors go to market. Vendors will look to "go to market with the channel vs. through the channel," Faletra said. Instead of arming channel partners with products, vendors will work on going to market together with solution provider partners.

Supplier Refresh

As technology constantly evolves, solution providers need to continually re-evaluate their vendor partners and drop some while adding others in order to match customer needs. "There's a constant refresh that has to happen," Faletra said. Solution providers need to make sure their portfolios match their customers' needs and spending plans.


Increasingly, technology innovation is coming from startups rather than large established vendors. Small startups are more nimble, whereas big companies have a harder time changing and, as a consequence, need to acquire small companies in order to innovate. "Startups that get acquired -- that's where real innovation happens," Faletra said.