Welcome to 2022 — times are changing. In the two years since this decade started, many predictions have fallen by the wayside due to the uncertainty and tumultuousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite significant challenges, the world has moved forward, and so has the IT industry.
Faced with unique challenges, businesses small and large have developed new and unforeseen strategies to overcome obstacles and drive success. Some of these are incremental course corrections, while others are radical shifts in how the channel brings products to market. No matter the magnitude, the channel is growing, adapting, and evolving, based on the needs of customers, the requirements of vendors, and the strictures of a frayed global supply chain.
With that in mind, 2022 is set to be a cornerstone year for the IT channel, and one that may be truly transformative when reviewed in hindsight. Let’s look at some of the trends that are fueling that transformation, and the dynamics behind them.
1. An Increase in Cybersecurity Spend
For years, this has been suggested, pitched, and predicted, but this is the year it finally hits home. With the constant, unyielding attacks on businesses over the past two years and the realization that threats can hide on networks undetected for long periods of time, more and more businesses are beefing up their cybersecurity investment and focusing on new technology, new services and increased human intervention to keep their organization safe. That means that now is the time to regroup with your customers to evaluate their cybersecurity strategy and expand your scope of services.
2. Security Goes on the Offensive (Finally)
This increased spend is allowing businesses to rethink their cybersecurity strategies far beyond a defensive and reactive posture. Along with an evolved security perimeter that embraces zero-trust and extends itself anywhere an organization’s employees operate, businesses are seeing the benefit of becoming proactive in their approach to cybersecurity. By taking the offensive with penetration testing and threat hunting, companies no longer have to wait for an attack to see value in their security investment; they can defend against them before they occur.
For IT providers, it’s important to have features like threat hunting in their arsenal in 2022. It’s not going to be a stand-alone solution you’ll want to take to market, but it will be an important part of a unified approach to security that customers expect moving forward.
3. Chip Shortages Challenge the Channel
Unfortunately, the global supply chain continues to be disrupted and its effects reverberate throughout nearly every industry. The IT channel has not been spared, and massive chip shortages and shipping delays have made it difficult to provide customers with the hardware needed to secure corporate networks, home offices, and more. However, there are silver linings to be found. Along with greater adoption of virtual firewalls, it’s important to remember that these shortages are not equal across the board, and there are vendors with inventory ready to be purchased in the channel. Check with your local distribution partner to see which vendors might have network security or secure wi-fi appliances in stock, for example, you may have luck using a new vendor.
4. Remote Work Becomes Status Quo
If there was any doubt by now, the way we work has been altered in a fundamental way due to the pandemic. While offices will undoubtedly return in some form, remote work will not disappear, leaving many businesses to prepare for a hybrid work environment that can pose significant security challenges. To secure the workplace and the workforce of 2022 and beyond, an identity-based, unified approach to security is necessary. By deeply integrating multi-factor authentication,endpoint security, network security and security WiFfi technologies and delivering them through intelligent, Cloud-based services, you can secure your customers’ businesses wherever they operate.
5. Marketplaces Emerge as a Pandemic Powerhouse
The use of Cloud-based marketplaces grew massively in 2020 and 2021, and can reasonably be dubbed the next “game changer” in the channel. While they challenge the traditional resale model that more IT providers and vendors are accustomed to, they may also pose the next significant opportunity for growth. And these marketplaces are no longer just for hardware; everything from managed services, professional services, cybersecurity and more are available — and customers are using them to purchase with ease.
Given the preferences and purchasing behaviors of IT customers and the adoption of Cloud-based technology over the past decade, these marketplaces are more than a passing fad. They represent one of the more significant changes in how the channel goes to market in years, and the opportunity for IT provider profit can be significant if approached correctly.
Additionally, this also points to the significance of differentiating your practice not only in your products and services, but also in your experience. IT professionals will be needed more than ever for their ability to consult on important technology decisions, even as purchasing processes change. The role of trusted adviser has never been more important.
While these topics may not be new to the experienced IT professional, they are no longer on the horizon, nor are they a passing fad (we’ve all seen a few come and go!); these trends are shaping our industry right now, and to ignore them is to do so at their own risk. Rather, it’s important to embrace how our industry is adapting, and to develop strategies to adapt along with it. Opportunity abounds for those who can anticipate what’s next, and then deliver services and products to customers who need them more than ever.