SYNNEX VARNEX FALL CONFERENCE — Follow the trends and study the demographics, and you’ll be fine.
The advice comes from Rob Moyer, Synnex vice president of cloud, mobility and IoT, who spoke to Channel Futures ahead of this week’s Synnex Varnex conference in Palm Springs, California. Moyer said that although partners must “execute on today,” they’ll need to look a few years into the future to remain relevant.
One way to identify important trends is to follow the money vendors are pouring into research and development.
“Coming from a software background, we used to have an adage: Follow the developers and you’re going to follow the business,” he told us.
A good example is cloud. Moyer notes that big telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon are putting huge investments into cloud computing. That should be a sign for everyone. Moyer said hybrid environments will persist for a long time, but “the trendline to public cloud is very strong.” And the intense 5G race going on right now should indicate where new opportunity might be in three years.
“Bet on partners that are spending a huge amount of money on R&D, follow the trend lines and then use companies like us to understand help you understand what trend lines are working, and bring things together,” he said.
What about demographics?
Take for instance the influence of millennials on mobility (or perhaps the other way around). Moyer said the next generation in the workforce has a different conception of what the network edge is. If in the past the edge was a laptop, it has traveled a long distance. His college-age son has an IoT-enabled washing machine, if that’s any indication.
“The edge of the network moved, and I think the millennials and the next generation grew up knowing nothing different, so they’re not tied to any sort of legacy thinking,” he said.
Moyer said the channel is getting younger, but he also credited legacy partners for transforming their businesses.
For example, one Synnex mobility partner accustomed to traditional M2M technology developed a solution that allows for a portable network. She was addressing customers’ inability to deploy a network in the cloud.
“That partner innovated from the ground up on an entirely new solution that solved a major business problem, and really used her legacy assets and legacy understanding to really flip the script and come up with something new,” said Tim Acker, vice president of mobility and connected solutions.
Acker and Moyer spoke Wednesday at the Synnex Cloud Catalyst Conference that preceded Varnex.
Another trend is the convergence of channel-partner types. Moyer emphasized that the lines are blurring between partners, both in terms of technology and business model.
One study last year found that 68 percent of VARs are offering managed services. And many of these partners have developed their own proprietary technology.
“Partners are becoming vendors. Vendors are getting into services. The lines are blurring, and I think that’s exciting for everyone.”
One-quarter of Synnex’d cloud mobility practice customers were not customers in 2013, according to Moyer. That’s a testament to how partner portfolios are expanding.
“I think there are partners that have lived in a cloud lane or software lane, and there [are] those who’ve lived in hardware and [so on],” Acker said. “I think partners are getting smarter about getting deeper on their competency and partnering more effectively.”
Acker exhorted partners to rethink their purpose, taking on the oft-repeated “trusted adviser” moniker. He said that title has typically referred to a “trusted IT adviser,” rather than a “trusted business adviser.”
“Customers are becoming less and less concerned about the IT. They’re becoming more and more concerned about, ‘How is digitization affecting my business?’” he said.
Varnex, the distributor’s VAR community, turned 10 years old last year. Last year’s conference attendees heard Synnex outline its expectations for acquiring Westcon-Comstor.
Two-hundred sixty resellers are present at this year’s event to learn about opportunities, meet vendors and build relationships with each other.