The next big thing

Rather than talk of 'The Next Big Thing,' in IT, market pundits, vendors and distributors are forcasting the further integration of business and technology in 2004. While the lack of a ‘must have’ piece of kit means there won’t be something new to sell, with the associated higher margins, it does mean channel partners can focus on what they know.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  January 3, 2004

After speaking to various market pundits, vendors, distributors and resellers, it appears as though ‘The Next Big Thing’ in terms of technology doesn’t exist. Rather, all the talk is of trends, such as the closer integration of business and technology, or of IT becoming a service.

In fact, the most adventurous prediction to reach Channel Middle East over the past few weeks involves utility computing, while others are backing the likes Linux and wireless instead.

Depending on one’s disposition, the lack of a new, world beating technology can be seen as either a good or bad thing for the local channel. While the lack of a ‘must have’ piece of kit means there won’t be something new to sell, with the associated higher margins, it does mean channel partners can focus on what they know.

With the overriding trend for improved service levels becoming entrenched in the Middle East, this is no bad thing. How can local partners be expected to improve support and add value if they are off learning about a new technology or focusing their energies on something they are just getting to grips with? The unfortunate answer is that, unless they go out and invest in more human resources, an expense most of us could do without, they can’t.

So, as the industry has seen fit not to provide us with ‘The Next Big Thing,’ 2004 looks likely to be a year when the channel focuses on targeting new sectors with their existing product lines, tapping into the local small-to-medium sized business (SMB) sectors growing thirst for information technology, for instance, or maximising revenues through services.

The long-term benefits of this will be enhanced customer loyalty and a strengthening of the bonds between channel and customer. This, in turn, should at least bode well for when the ‘Next Big Thing’ does eventually show up.

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