As I write this, the U.S. government is shut down, Apple posted disappointing fourth-quarter numbers, Brexit is proceeding without any ratified plan, a trade war looms, and analysts are pointing out just how dismally global markets performed in 2018.
MarketWatch spells it out, saying declines were broad, affecting bonds, gold, oil, stocks, equities, developed international and emerging market indices. While the longest-on-record bull market that started in 2009 is still technically running, the S&P 500 fell 6.2 percent for the year, the Dow dropped 5.6 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 3.9 percent. That marks the worst annual performance for all three since 2008.
My bet is that as a channel pro, you’re more likely than the average bear to see this as a glass-half-full situation. Disruption favors the bold, and business experts with an entrepreneurial bent (read: partners) know that all market conditions bring opportunity if you know where to look. We’re also believers that technology spending will remain strong. In fact, Channel Partners’ parent company, Informa, has doubled down on tech this year by purchasing UBM, a buy that brought some top-tier sites and events into our universe. InformationWeek, Interop, Dark Reading, Black Hat, Network Computing, Enterprise Connect — the list goes on. Dark Reading is a content partner for our new Channel Futures MSSP Insider section, and you’ll see more cross-pollination as 2019 progresses. That includes a session at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo; more details to come soon.
Looking ahead, when the financial climate gets uncertain, CIOs have a pretty standard playbook that we’ve seen before. In July 2008, the Great Recession was about a year from officially ending. I was an executive editor with InformationWeek, while Art Wittmann was editor, working on the analytics business. We published the results of our State of the Economy survey, where about 1,000 business technology pros weighed in on two rounds of questions, in March and July 2008, aimed at seeing where cuts were happening. The No. 1 area to get the ax, by a wide margin, was new hires. CIOs were also tapping the brakes on infrastructure updates and cutting travel, leading to a mini boom in videoconferencing projects. Fifty-five percent saw IT budget freezes for 2009 versus 40 percent having to make reductions.A lucky, or visionary, 5 percent saw increases. Said one CIO we spoke with: “When the clouds part, we want to take advantage of the sun.”
So, in a nutshell, no new headcount or big capex projects, and watch the T&E. For service providers, fewer in-house staff tends to be a net gain, and those who shifted from break-fix and selling expensive gear to providing opex/cloud-based as-a-service options will see those efforts pay off.
I encourage you allocate some of your own T&E budget to join us and 6,000 or so of your peers in Las Vegas, April 9-12, for our 22nd Channel Partners Conference & Expo. We’ve assembled a program designed to help you make the most of whatever creative disruption is happening.
We’ll kick it all off with our annual Business Success Symposium, featuring some exciting new speakers, beginning with our keynoter, growth strategy consultant, managing partner of Spark Partners and author Adam Hartung, who will challenge us to see a difficult market as an opportunity — perhaps to grab business from less-nimble competitors who aren’t ready to pick up the slack for headcount-challenged customers. BSS attendees can mix and match sessions for executive, sales and marketing, and technical leadership, and round out the day with …