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Shiny technologies distract consumers while channel partners stick to basics

Emerging technology may get the buzz, as well as the margins, but aren't yet driving partner revenue

As I write this column in January, the annual technology extravaganza that is the Consumer Electronics Show is underway, and as usual an impressive array of cutting-edge technology is on display.

Sleek new ultrabooks are the talk of the show, with models such as Acer’s Aspire S5, Dell’s XPS13 and Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga almost making Apple’s svelte Macbook Air look chunky by comparison. With a slew of new ultrabooks set to come to market offering power and portability in the $1,000 range, vendors expect the form factor to be a hit with technology buyers this year.

New smartphones are also the rage at CES, including some impressive Windows Phone models resulting from Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia, as well as a bevy of new Android-based tablets. Another interesting trend emerging at CES is cloud-based services, with vendors such as Acer and Lenovo launching services to make your music, videos, photos, and documents available instantly across all your devices.

Emerging technologies were also recently on the mind of IT World Canada’s editorial staff as we met to discuss our predictions for the year ahead. Last year the buzz was all about cloud computing, and the volume isn’t likely to drop in 2012.

In our crystal ball musing though, we were also bullish on Big Data making a big splash this year. The bring your own device phenomenon will also continue to transform IT procurement, with the possibility of a user backlash when they realize corporate support for BYOD isn’t altruistic; they want to save money by getting you to buy your own laptop. You can also expect for attempts to latch onto the “as-a-service” bandwagon.

We found less unanimity on the prospects for RIM and Google+. I really don’t see what the latter offers that I can’t get from other social networks, and as for RIM, as a BlackBerry user and a Canadian I really want to root for them. They just make it really hard some (most) of the time.

While our year-ahead predictions, the CES show and industry hype in general are usually all focused on emerging technologies and trends, CDN’s first ever State of the Channel Report provides a sober reality check: for most partners, the bulk of their revenues still comes from traditional, meat and potatoes-style technology sales and implementations.

Indeed, when asked where the bulk of their revenue is coming from, the less flashy but still vital infrastructure areas still predominate. networking topped the list, followed by servers, desktops and storage, before getting into mobile solutions at number five.

Partners would do well to explore some of the new emerging technology areas, as new technology usually means higher margin and they’ll want to be in these new markets before their competitors are. But vendors would also do well to remember that, despite the excitement of the shiny and new, it’s the old reliables that pay partners’ bills.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.