Channel technologies, Enterprise

A Big Data Scorecard for Channel Partners?


Generally speaking, most channel partners remain preoccupied with the shift to recurring revenues. But if you look closely enough, you'll notice another trend -- the big data wave is starting to spill over from enterprise IT departments into the the IT channel.

The big question: How can a channel partner determine if they're ready to dip their toes into the big data market?

One answer may come from Hortonworks, which just launched a Big Data Scorecard Survey. The online tool helps businesses to assess their big data capabilities along five key capability domains: Sponsorship; Data and Analytics; Technology and Infrastructure; Organization and Skills; and Process Management.

Admittedly, the online tool is designed for end-customers. But I think it's a useful tool for channel partners to navigate. Poke around and you'll start to get a feel for the current big data journey that many enterprise customers have pursued.

Big Data in the IT Channel

Gradually, I expect channel partners to join the journey -- both within their own organizations and across their customer bases. Here's how it's unfolding.

Enterprise IT Consultants: Big IT consulting shops -- Accenture, Capgemini and more -- have big data analytics skills in house. Much of their initial work involved information managed across Hadoop storage clusters. But now, those efforts are are shifting to real-time streaming information. Moreover, a shift from predictive analytics ("this is what will happen") to prescriptive analytics ("here's a formula for success based on what will happen") is under way. For that type of coverage, I point readers to Information Management.

Big Data Software Providers: Hadoop companies like Cloudera, MapR and Hortonworks are partnering up with ISVs and technology companies. Watch closely. More moves are coming -- including some potential hires that may signal a shift to more formalized channel partner programs.

MSP Software Providers: Take a closer look at RMM (remote monitoring and management), PSA (professional services automation) and BDR (backup and disaster recovery) platforms. They're all data-intensive systems -- gathering and monitoring information. But true "big data" and "machine learning" haven't really taken hold on these systems. At least not yet. Still, the gradual shift has started. One example: Keep an eye on LogicNow LOGICcards, a system that helps MSPs to predict and act on future SMB customer needs.

Start with Analytics

The big data conversation, admittedly, can be overwhelming for some channel partners. Gathering, managing, storing optimizing, securing and monetizing data certainly is challenging.

Instead of trying to eat the big data elephant in one bite, channel partners should nibble on the opportunity -- using analytics.

MSPs and some VARs have a long history in analytics -- basically using monthly and quarterly reports to show customers the value of their IT services.

Measure Everything

masterIT CEO Michael Drake
When I started blogging about the MSP market around 2008, masterIT CEO Michael Drake (pictured) gave me a simple two-word term that described his approach to business:   "Measure everything."

The idea was to use analytics to benchmark your business -- your service desk, your revenue, your margins, etc. Once you're gathering the right data, use it to track your baseline performance. Then... beat that baseline performance at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).

The complete big data wave is coming to the IT channel. Jump on analytics to eventually ride the wave.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.