By Mark Herbert
The recent Windows 8 launch was met with the amount of fanfare that one would expect from a major technology company making a significant product announcement. But now that the consumer hype is starting to settle down, we have a chance to really look at the opportunity Windows 8 is going to bring to the enterprise and, perhaps more importantly, what this will mean for the channel.
intY has worked closely with Microsoft over the last few years as an international Microsoft syndication partner and has provided our global channel partners with access to Microsoft products and programs they may have not been able to utilize otherwise. We believe that Windows 8 presents the channel with a great opportunity to educate and consult end-user enterprise customers on benefits they will be able to see with Windows 8 in their workforce.
Similar to Apple iOS, Windows 8 is driving a consumer-led apps-based operating system into the enterprise and, as organizations increasingly look to assess their needs and requirements as they consider a more user-friendly computing experience, there’s no riper time for the channel to jump on this.
While over the years the culture of Windows has stayed relatively similar with each OS launch, this time may prove to be very, very different. With Windows 8 we’re seeing a complete cultural overhaul of the traditional ways of working and a move towards more app-based, touch-screen, user-friendly computing. At the consumer level, we’ve been experiencing this type of fast computing at your fingertips for a while now, but this is a whole new ballgame for the Windows-based enterprise community.
Together with its Surface tablet, the new Windows OS has the capacity to work across all device platforms — computer, phone and tablet. Windows 8 will certainly be giving Apple a run for its money in the enterprise stakes, particularly as enterprise IT departments inevitably begin to assess the manageability of the Microsoft tablet and Windows Phone 8 compared to Apple’s iPad and iPhone, especially in terms of control of corporate data security.
The truth is, many key business decision makers are recognizing, even if it is fairly subliminal, the need for a cultural shift within their organizations. Instead of the old mantras of sticking with what you know and if it works, why change it, Windows 8 is now presenting an opportunity to change things up. For the channel that means there are more options to play with here, and there is an opportunity for the channel to add value in the process by educating end users on how to take advantage of this cultural shift.
Initially, channel players specializing in software can leverage the opportunity from the successes they’ve enjoyed with those customers already happy with Microsoft’s way of doing things. Whether customers are consciously or unconsciously recognizing the need for a cultural shift within their organizations, the channel can use Microsoft’s unparalleled proven track record in businesses of all sizes and functions, to pave the way for new opportunities with Windows 8.
In addition, hardware resellers in this space are already beginning to see the emergence of new devices coming their way. Microsoft has definitely set the standard with the launch of its Surface tablet, and it is going to force other hardware manufacturers to raise their game when it when it comes to quality. The channel can expect to see a very competitive marketplace develop in this space and should take advantage of the opportunity to jump on it.
Windows 8 is all about mobility. It’s bringing with it an entirely new breed of applications that are designed to make the work environment more mobile and is likely to be the key factor in driving adoption in the enterprise. Why? For the first time, Windows PC users will be able to go to an apps marketplace and download tools for their business directly. It’s because of this that channel players may begin to feel disintermediated in the future of software supply.
Having said that, I believe we can expect to see in the near future, at the very least, channel-friendly payment systems for organizations to use when purchasing enterprise-wide apps for their users. This will keep the channel engaged in the sales process and will also prevent employees from buying their own apps on business expenses.
In short, the emergence of Windows 8 is a opportunity for the channel to educate end users on the value of this new era of computing, tilting those customers already considering a change in culture, over the edge to take the plunge. If you combine this fundamental shift and the hunger for applications with the unrivalled legacy of Microsoft within the enterprise, there’s a huge window of opportunity for the channel with Windows 8 — just make sure that window doesn’t fall shut on you.
CTO, business development director and founder of intY Ltd , Mark Herbert is respected within the security sector community as a luminary with a clear vision of the evolving sector and best placed techniques to continue to combat the ever increasing threat levels to individuals and organizations. A graduate in microelectronics and robotics with a career in network consultancy for organizations such as Honeywell, CompuAdd and the Ford Motor Company, Herbert is the architect behind intY’s product strategy.
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