There’s a lot of talk about shifts in the ecosystem that are creating new partnership opportunities to deliver the innovative solutions our customers need.
We’re witnessing an increasing number of collaborative projects that bring together unexpected partnerships to pull in the expertise needed to innovate. There’s no doubt that to be successful in today’s world, companies need to be open to a range of new partnership opportunities.
“CEOs need a wider lens when assessing would-be competitors—or partners. Indeed, in an ecosystem environment, today’s competitor may turn out to be a partner or “frenemy.” Failure to grasp this means that you will miss opportunities and underplay threats.” McKinsey
Convergence is Here
I’ve been in the IT industry for almost 20 years and I’ve never before seen such a broad ecosystem of companies and industries who require IT expertise than today. That’s because everything in today’s world is becoming IP connected. And, when it’s connected to the internet, it most likely computes. This is driving the new reality that EVERYTHING is becoming an IT solution.
If you’d asked me even a decade ago, if a real estate developer was a potential customer or an electrician could be a partner, I might have laughed, but today they are key collaborators in helping to deliver solutions such as smart buildings that help to improve security, reduce energy costs and seamlessly connect tenants to the IT infrastructure they need to operate.
We’re also seeing more and more convergence of IT with Operational Technology (OT), which has traditionally kept itself separate from IT. With the growing importance of smart machines and devices, IT and OT need to work more closely together to align and securely integrate technologies including IoT and edge deployments.
By 2020, 50% percent of OT service providers will create key partnerships with IT-centric providers for IoT offerings. Gartner
In addition, AI companies that didn’t exist just a year ago, popping up everywhere. This reality is forcing traditional solution providers to develop new capabilities and is further blurring the lines in the channel as IT companies add capabilities and skills sets. Distribution partners are equally impacted by the convergence trend as they need to add new partners to their line card to deliver the industry or line specific capabilities customers are looking for.
Convergence Opportunities & Challenges
As everything is getting more automated, people who were historically laying concrete or running electrical wires are now implementing technology as part of their job but, in some cases, they need help. That’s where we come in and where increasing conversations around convergence are happening, particularly in the IoT space with smart buildings, digital signage, and retail management. Bricks and mortar type industries are increasingly technological. We’re seeing convergence anywhere people are rethinking the future such as retail shopping, workspaces, offices and warehousing.
Some of opportunities for the IT channel lie in:
- Security: nearly 90% of organizations with connected OT infrastructures have experienced a security breach. With more and more connected devices, deploying security solutions across the ecosystem is critical.
- Getting Smart: In manufacturing and industrial applications there’s increasing demand to turn “dumb” machines into the smart “connected” devices of tomorrow.
- Data: Smart devices have the power to track operations but making sense of data in real time is essential.
One of the challenges facing companies tasked with delivering innovations that merge IT and OT is getting the disciplines to work together. In an era where competitors are now partners, it makes sense OT and IT align their skills sets to deploy our increasingly complex solutions.
Keeping Pace with Convergence
You remember the Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First”? With convergence impacting a wide range of industrial and business applications, getting to know the players can be as confusing as that comedy skit.
Connecting leading solution providers and introducing innovative products to the marketplace are some of the driving forces behind the Intel® Solutions Marketplace. We’re uniquely positioned to help bring capabilities together and build a bridge to support the convergence underway. We want to make it easy for our partners to learn about leading solutions, connect with partners, and showcase the solutions that are ready to scale.
In a world where the playing field is getting wider, and the number of players is increasing, we need a dynamic real-time platform for finding the right connections, scalable technologies, expertise and skillsets to deliver tomorrow’s solutions, today.
Within my team and, I am sure, within a lot of other organizations around the world, we’re re-structuring ourselves to respond to the shifts convergence is causing in the marketplace. In fact, we are in process of developing an integrated IoT partner team to help support these emerging IoT partners while, at the same time, ensuring we have the resources to support our traditional partner community. It’s a challenge I know many companies are experiencing as we balance the new and emerging with our traditional customer base.
We’re all seeing new territories materialize and the need to acquire the capabilities, technologies and expertise to deliver solutions for non-traditional partners like construction, real estate and brick and mortar firms that are becoming more relevant to our ecosystem.
Convergence is here and impacting the way we do business. Are you ready?