ScanSource Exec: Channel Must Continue Transitioning For Survival

CHANNEL PARTNERS — ScanSource’s Greg Dixon knows what he’s talking about when he says the IT channel is in transition and must continuing transitioning to survive.

During a preconference event ahead of the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Greg Dixon, ScanSource's chief technology officer, talks about the channel in transition.He co-founded the technology products distributor and is its chief technology officer. Also, he’s been in the IT channel for nearly 40 years, from the mainframes of the 1970s and the advent of PCs in the 1980s, to the emergence of Internet and cloud.

During his ScanSource 1COMM on the Road keynote, Dixon told partners that he wanted to “stir things up a little bit.” The pre-conference event took place before the full start of the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“If I’m looking at my business model and saying I’m doing just fine, thank you very much, I’m telling you that’s a business model that’s a race to the bottom,” he said. “Everybody in their IT channel has to be cognizant of the changes, has to figure out exactly how I’m going to change, and if I’m not going to change, then what am I going to do with my retirement.”

The transition is well underway in that the majority of companies that “deliver IT solutions now deliver those solutions as a service, as MSPs,” Dixon said.{ad}

“Now not that many people are pure-play MSPs, there are very few of those,” he said. “What you are is a VAR and let’s add a managed-services practice to it, let’s convert slowly, but convert our break/fix customers to managed-services customers, because if you don’t, someone else will, trust me.”

Customers like having a monthly bill and the operating expense option, so channel members have no choice, Dixon said.

“You have to learn to convert, so you add managed services to your existing VAR, system integrator, solution-provider kind of model, and you go from there,” he said.

Also during ScanSource 1COMM on the Road, Eric Hanselman, 451 Group’s chief analyst, told partners the Internet of Things (IoT) is in “pretty serious trouble,” therefore prompting new opportunities for the channel.

The IoT “needs all the help it can get” through better examination and utilization of all the data generated, he said.

“There’s a lot of potential that starts to happen between data collected and the large number of people who can start to act on it,” he said.

For example, the vast amounts of information collected can be used to create business models that anticipate and therefore prevent problems, save money and produce better outcomes, Hanselman said. Health care, food service and agriculture are examples of industries that could benefit from better use of data from the IoT, he said.

“All that data needs people to take action,” he said. “Move from on demand data to data being demanding … turning analytical results into action.”

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