The Internet of Things (IoT) has been identified as the top emerging opportunity for the channel by a community of solution providers set up by CompTIA, a non-profit industry association that focuses on emerging technologies. 

The next four top emerging technologies were ranked as being automation, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality/virtual reality, and 5G wireless. The bottom five of the top ten list of emerging technologies were ranked as being 3D printing, drones, biometrics, blockchain, and quantum computing.

CompTIA decided the time had come to create a community of 120 channel partners focused on emerging technologies because the rate at which innovations are now occurring is becoming overwhelming, says Jim Hamilton, vice president of member communities for CompTIA.

“There’s a huge amount of emerging technologies,” says Hamilton. “We wanted to help partners determine what to focus on versus what’s just hype.”

Hamilton admits technologies at the bottom of the list such as blockchain technologies and quantum computing are much further opportunities down the road than IoT. The one thing, however, that all these technologies have in common, is none of them will be simple to master or implement. IoT, for example, may seem simple enough as a concept. But once organizations start connecting hundreds, even thousands, of IoT devices it quickly becomes apparent that highly distributed IoT applications will be challenging to build and maintain.

The most important thing for channel partners now is to start building a plan for how to exploit emerging technology opportunities, says Hamilton. In the absence of a plan, most channel partners are in danger of not having the right skills available as an emerging technology crosses the proverbial chasm of mainstreabsam adoption, says Hamilton.

Timing is everything

As is often the case, timing is everything when it comes to emerging technologies. Most channel partners are already trying to navigate a swath of certification requirements that require their staffs to spend a significant amount of time and effort on training associated with mainstream opportunities. Setting aside time to get up to speed on emerging technologies is difficult to prioritize when every minute not spent servicing a customer in the field has a direct negative impact on revenues.

At the same time, however, most channel partners these days are trying to generate recurring revenue opportunities based on managed services. There are essentially two paths to achieving that goal. The first is to provide services that augment the efforts of an internal IT organization. The second is to build a service that an internal IT team doesn’t have the expertise to deploy on its own. Both strategies have merit. But delivering a service that an internal IT can’t do on its own is almost always going to the more profitable endeavor. Once an emerging technology starts to find mainstream demand, there’s not nearly as much pricing pressure on margins for that service because the number of MSPs with expertise in that area will be limited. The savvy MSP that strikes the right balance between investing in skills and mainstream adoption of emerging technologies is always going to be able to stay ahead of the curve.

As Benjamin Franklin once sagely noted: if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Some 250 odd years later, it turns out that when it comes to managed services it’s still all about the Benjamins.

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Photo:   Anatolii Mazhora / Shutterstock.

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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