Opportunities in the Channel: Servers, Storage, and Services
As small- and medium-sized business proliferate the marketplace, these organizations become an obvious target for technology sales, especially by value-added resellers looking to add to their customer base. These SMBs may not have the funds to invest in expensive pieces of hardware, but they certainly rely on technology to grow and sustain their business. As a result, the growing SMB community can positively impact the sales of server and data storage hardware, and a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) reveals continued growth in this sector. The key, then, is for VARs to understand the growth of these sectors and identify how to capitalize on these opportunities. In doing so, both the SMBs and VARs can enjoy growth of their businesses.
The Growth of Indirect Sales
Opportunities abound when it comes to indirect technology sales. Businesses of all sizes are seeking the right hardware for their organization’s needs. They may need servers to manage the sharing of data and information across the organization. As the business grows, their server needs may expand as well. Likewise, as businesses evolve, technology storage needs similarly develop. Because business’ technology needs are ever changing, value-added resellers (VARs) can tap into these needs and offer indirect sales for technology servers, storage, and services.
A 2014 report by International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that the business’ needs for VARs will continue to grow. As organizations require more bandwidth to stay competitive and manage their technology, they will similarly need the technological infrastructure in place to support their evolving organization. The IDC report predicts that businesses will spend more than $9 billion on storage alone between now and 2018. Likewise, server sales will also grow by more than 2 percent over the next few years. Also during this time, organizations will seek the assistance of IT professionals and, perhaps, VARs to provide detailed guidance on the best technology for their organization’s needs.
The IDC findings highlight the many opportunities that exist for VARs in the SMB marketplace. Small- and medium-sized businesses may lack the in-house information technology professionals that larger corporations have. However, they still require input from an informed IT team. VARs, then, can tap into these opportunities with SMBs.
The SMB Marketplace
Technology is inescapable for businesses of all sizes. In order to grow and thrive as an organization, businesses need the right hardware, including servers and storage, to support their day-to-day operations. Today’s technology-driven era calls for even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to embrace the digital age and invest in appropriate hardware to stay competitive. As the number of SMBs in the country continues to grow, opportunities to provide IT support, services, and related products to these smaller organizations likewise increase.
The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council reports that more than 99 percent of the nation’s 5.68 million employer firms in 2011 had fewer than 500 employees, classifying them as a small- or medium-sized business. Moreover, these SMBs have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, producing nearly half (46 percent) of private, nonfarm GDP in the U.S. in 2008. These innovative, growing SMBs certainly aren’t organizations to shy away from. Instead, they can be valuable resources — and customers — for VARs.
Value-added resellers can tap into the SMB marketplace to deliver servers, storage, and services to customers with smaller business operations. However, in order to develop relationships with SMBs, VARs need to have a strong understanding of the organization’s unique needs. SMBs want to work with IT professionals who can provide technology-related suggestions and advice that will help the organization thrive. So, in order for VARs to become viable options for SMBs, they need to target specific businesses or industries, learn about their unique needs, and help the business choose the right hardware, servers, and storage for their needs.
New opportunities are arising for VARs, as the number of SMBs in the U.S. grows. However, success working with small- and medium-sized businesses also presents competition with IT consultants and other technology-focused organizations. Finding your niche within the SMB marketplace, then, is key.
Tips for VARs Moving Forward
Value-added resellers should certainly be optimistic based on the IDC’s 2014 report. Since the need for servers, storage, and hardware will continue to grow, opportunities abound within in the SMB marketplace for VARs. However, merely selling this hardware doesn’t guarantee relationships with small- and medium-sized businesses. VARs will need to use a well-designed marketing strategy to identify the needs of these businesses and, then, share their expertise as IT professionals. In this capacity, VARs are more than simply resellers. They also become IT consultants for their clients. They can help guide purchases, offering suggestions tailored to the organization’s unique technology needs. Likewise, they may even offer troubleshooting advice or ongoing customer service and support for the purchased technology. As a result, success in the SMB market depends not just on the products a VAR sells; the services and support it provides is equally — if not more — important.