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Throughout 2012, Channel Partners is celebrating 25 years covering the channel. As part of that, this blog includes reviews of the past 25 years and previews of the next 25 years from our readers. Submissions are welcomed. Send them to Khali Henderson,

25 Years Offers Great Change in Business Practices and Devices

- Blog

Christine DoverBy Christine Dover, Research Manager, Software Channels, IDC

How has the channel changed in 25 years?

As much as I don't like to admit it, I have worked in the technology industry and the channel for 25 years. What strikes me most about the change from 1987 to 2012 is how we communicate. In 1987, I was an entry level implementation consultant for a small independent software vendor start-up in Mountain View, Calif. and lived a few blocks from where the Google campus is today. A typical 24-hour period often included writing up a status report using VI (a text editor, if you don't know what it is, be happy), printing it out and photocopying it to either take or mail to my client (well, I could have faxed it). If the day included a software problem for one of my clients, I was testing the fix and then racing up Highway 101 to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to get the tape with the software fix in the last FedEx flight of the day. The next morning, I was often back at SFO to travel to a client location (of course the tickets had been delivered to my office) and I could breeze through the airport and catch my flight right before the door closed. I don't even remember if there was a security screening back then. Fortunately, I was unburdened by a computer or mobile device (I got my first laptop a few years later), but I did have my handy voicemail account, but so did all the other business travelers and the lines at the airport phone banks were often longer than those for the restroom. On the weekend, I'd be back home, but usually at the office catching up on my email that went unanswered during the week as I had no way to access it remotely. There usually wasn't a lot of email to deal with as the only people I could email also worked for the same company.

How will the channel changed in the next 25 years?

So where do I think the tech industry will be 25 years from now? I'm expecting my intelligent avatar to be participating in online meetings for me while I am getting a few miles in on the treadmill. No longer will I be making my way to SFO to catch a plane or get to one of three telepresence locations to participate in a global client meeting because that technology will now be everywhere. The number of devices I am lugging around will be closer to what it was in 1987 when I only had a portable music device and a pager rather than the laptop, tablet, smartphone mess I have today. I will have forgotten that airports used to have phone banks used mostly by business travelers checking voicemail. Life will be much simpler I expect, but mostly because I plan to have retired before 2037 rolls around.

Christine Dover is research manager, software channels research with IDC’s Software Business Solutions Group. She provides insight and analysis into global software vendors and their channel partners including Value Added Resellers (VARs), Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Systems Integrators (SIs). She researches and consults with clients on topics such as software channel strategies, partner programs, marketing communications between vendors and partners, the effect of Cloud Computing on partner business models, and the use of social media in all of these areas. Dover has extensive experience in professional services, sales and consulting enablement, product management and marketing, and business development.


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