Ask A Solution Provider: Where Are You Placing Your Biggest Strategic Bets For Future Growth?

Place Your Bets

The CRN Best of Breed conference, held last week in Atlanta, brought together over 100 top executives from the leading solution provider companies in the country that were honored on CRN's Solution Provider 500, Tech Elite 250, and Fast Growth 150 lists this year.

These solution provider executives are shaping the future of the channel with forward-thinking decisions on new technologies, services, skills and partnerships.

CRN spoke with 12 of solution provider executives in Atlanta and asked a simple question: Where are you placing your biggest strategic bets for future growth? Here's what they had to say.

Bill Briggs, CTO, Deloitte

There's a broader full suite around advising, implementing and operating, having services that feed off each other – and that includes advising to design and build, and build to run, and do that at scale across all your businesses.

We basically have signature issues that we circle and say 'we think these will help us appreciate the [technology] landscape around us' – those are issues. Then there's themes like mobility.

We used to be horizontal functions and business processes, and those things are now diagonals. Future health care is bringing IoT and personalized medicine, while the future of mobile are smart cities and sharing economy – so you see this diagonal view dominating. The other part of it is how do we have more products and offerings as hybrid solutions, it's not just services, it's coming in with assets that help shortcircuit that time to value.

Shahin Pirooz, CTO, DataEndure

Our focus and energy right now is around two things – security and compliance for information. So wherever you put that data, whether it's hybrid or it's entirely inside your data center, you can't forget your security responsibilities. So our primary concern is where security comes in – from a regulatory standpoint too, either external or internal.

That's where we spend a lot of our energy, but in terms of where things are going, it really is also around digital transformation.

Allen Falcon, CEO, Cumulus Global

It's more about being the managed cloud provider. SMBs aren't building custom apps yet. Most small businesses are moving to the cloud by moving infrastructure systems like email and file sharing. They're picking SaaS-based applications, or we're lifting and loading. When we look at that market, we're becoming the holistic provider, which for us means stepping out of the cloud and into on-premise for the pieces that don't move into the cloud. That's what our strategic play is. It's a more consultative, business-driven approach. We expect in 2018 our salespeople will have specific incentives tied to their ability, when they bring on a new customer, to identify a measurable business metric. There'll be an incentive if that metric shows positive results over the first 12 months. We need to identify an objective and measure it.

Philippe Schmitt, COO, MotherG

[Our manufacturing clients] talk about IoT. We try to promote the conversation with them, because it's also our role to help them understand how technology can develop their business. We are more in the 3-D-printing type of thing. IoT is linked to that, as well. We are starting to partner. IoT is not something we know how to do by default. Directly linked to that is business intelligence. We try to develop more of a skill set around BI. As far as our IoT expertise, we're going to partner. I would hate to be in a position to talk the talk, and not walk the walk with our client. We certainly need to get into it.

Carmine Taglialatela, VP, Business Development, PCPC Direct

Cybersecurity. It's a mass of unknowns. It has to be very specific. We do a lot of work with the U.S. government, and it's very dependent on what the government is going to do with its money. We're looking at everything from prevention to intervention to remediation, even forensics.

Dan DiSano, CEO, Axispoint

Content. We do a lot of media, entertainment and sports, but also in financial services and we're seeing a real step up in the content industry, and that's bringing incredible opportunity for us. Companies are not only creating content, but driving it to cash. We're involved in that content-to-cash creation business and we're seeing that as a major growth area. That's not a specific technology, but it's a space that needs a variety of products.

Chris Johnson, Cybersecurity Compliance Strategist, OnShore Security

I think future growth is going to be on the perimeter -- the edge security devices is where it's at. That's what we are focusing on at OnShore.

JoAnn Pfeiffer, Senior Account Manager, Eastern Data Technology

Our opportunities are with Microsoft. We are a Gold partner, and where they go we follow. We also have a very strong Lenovo relationship with selling their hardware and data center products. We still see that as an opportunity. There's some folks that say 'everything is going to the cloud,' but a lot of people still like to keep things on-site, too.

Bradley Brodkin, CEO, HighVail

I made my biggest bet on Docker, because of portability. The other big bet is Red Hat. Both are because we're really looking at innovation in infrastructure.

Brian Young, Director, Sales, Trivalent Group

We're still placing bets on a long-term managed IT strategy. More and more folks are realizing that IT is a service. They want it to be predictable, there when they need it, come on like the lights, and they are willing to pay for that. We automate and manage to help clients achieve their goals, that's our strategy. So VMware, the Dell EMC relationship for us is also meeting that criteria. You can't forget Microsoft there also.

Michael Haley, President, Edge Solutions

Software-defined data center and digital transformation are the two biggest as we consult with companies and help them make sense out of public, private and hybrid cloud. We are simplifying technology for our customers.

It includes the tactical strategies around security, portability, process and governance for private cloud. For cloud operations we are doing a lot around software-defined networking and policy development.

Frank Blanco, VP, Purchasing, Howard Technology Solutions

We are making a big bet on B2B [business-to-business] and the enterprise market. It is the biggest market with the biggest opportunity to gain traction and continue to grow.

We are looking at making a bigger bet with Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a result of acquisitions they have made like Aruba and Nimble, which are gaining traction in the market. Aruba is going well for us. We expect 2018 to be our biggest year ever with Aruba. We are growing our sales team. We are enhancing our technology internally. We are looking for a very strong 2018.