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Distributor moves point to 2017 channel trends

To get an idea of where channel trends may be heading next year, take a look at where distributors are investing and hiring today.

Ingram Micro Inc., for example, is putting time and money into training programs. The company this week obtained Authorized Learning Partner status from Cisco. That designation means Ingram Micro can deliver Cisco Authorized Training as part of the networking vendor’s Global Learning Partner Organization.

According to Cisco, Learning Partners are authorized to educate and train other partners within the company’s partner ecosystem, focusing on “Cisco products, technologies, architectures and solutions.”

Ingram Micro‘s training investment is part of a broader trend. Distributors are diversifying, cultivating a range of services in addition to their traditional role in product fulfillment. According to the Global Technology Distribution Council, distributors, as a group, now offer more than three dozen service lines — including education and training.

The distributors’ service expansion reflects the growing complexity of channel relationships in light of trends such as cloud computing. In short, channel partners need much more than the ability to order physical products and have them drop-shipped to a client’s location. Accordingly, many distributors now aim to help partners move into the cloud business.

Platform integration 

Part of that objective involves building out a platform that makes it easier for partners to provision cloud services for their customers. In a recent case in point, Pax8, a value-added cloud distributor, said it has integrated its Command Console, a cloud marketplace, with ConnectWise‘s business management products for service providers.

Ryan Walsh, senior vice president of Partner Solutions at Pax8, said the integration “allows us to create a link between the two platforms” that lets service providers synchronize accounts, cloud subscriptions details and billing information.

Without integration, the task of coordinating cloud subscription information between ConnectWise and Pax8 would have involved a swivel chair interface, with data entered into one system and then rekeyed into another.

“The integration removes the hassle factor,” Walsh said.

The platform integration was unveiled earlier this month at the IT Nation conference in Orlando, Fla.

Look for more integration among distributors’ cloud marketplaces and solution provider business management platforms next year. Increasingly, platforms linked via APIs will supplement, and in some cases replace, the physical movement of products through the supply chain.

IT Channel: Trends include mobility

Tech Data Corp. provided another indication this week of where the market may be heading, appointing an executive to lead the distributor’s mobility marketing strategy and execution. The company appointed Linda Rendleman, vice president of product marketing, Client and Mobile Solutions. Rendleman’s duties include responsibility for the distributor’s growth strategies in the client and mobile field.

Tech Data’s offerings in mobility include a range of devices and management tools such as Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security product suite. The suite offers mobile device and app management, identity and access management, and threat analytics among other features.

Managed mobility tops the list of practice areas channel partners plan to add in the next 12 months, according to Tech Target’s Channel Directions survey. One market research firm predicted that this market will quadruple over the next five years, reaching nearly $20 billion.

So what might be in the works for 2017? Here are three likely channel trends: Distributors’ continued diversification into services such as training, platform integration aimed at easier cloud provisioning and the expansion of mobile device management opportunities.