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For all the challenges that 2020 brought the IT industry, it opened unique opportunities for channel partner businesses.
Consider the following:
- Cloud computing gained greater traction in the business world than ever before, with many channel firms responding by ramping up their cloud practices.
- The broad move to remote work environments generated demand for MSPs, IT consultants and resellers.
- Increased attention on cybersecurity gave IT service providers an opportunity to build out their security services portfolios.
- Organizations have increasingly begun to embrace emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA) as they pivot their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the past year, SearchITChannel explored these and other trends in our feature articles and reporting. Here are 10 of our most-read channel partner business stories of 2020.
1. Healthcare cloud adoption may be turning another corner
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare providers had typically been reluctant to incorporate cloud-based technologies into their operations. Once COVID-19 infections began to spread in the U.S., however, cloud and healthcare industry watchers predicted attitudes would change significantly. "[Healthcare providers] want to roll out cloud-based services faster than ever before," said Marty Momdjian, a healthcare solution advisor at Sirius Computer Solutions.
In this article, contributor Albert McKeon examined various factors that will shape future hybrid cloud strategies in healthcare, as well as challenges that channel partners can help solve.
Further reading: In addition to cloud computing, industry experts also expect IoT deployments to hit an inflection point in healthcare.
2. Do IT service providers need MSP cybersecurity insurance?
Cybersecurity, arguably, received more attention in the managed services market this year than any time before. Not only did MSPs seek to build out security service offerings to protect clients, but they were also under pressure to get their own houses in order -- plugging gaps that could leave their operations vulnerable. As a result of today's unpredictable security environment, MSP industry experts believe cybersecurity insurance is a must-have.
In this article, contributor Esther Shein spoke with technology law firm Scott & Scott LLP, technology risk underwriter Techrug and cloud backup software provider Asigra for tips on how to purchase insurance, lower your rates and file a claim.
Further reading: Read SearchSecurity's report on the alarming trend of MSP-targeted ransomware attacks.
3. Predicting 7 MSP trends in technology for 2021
2020 pushed numerous maturing and emerging technologies into the limelight, including cloud computing, AI and machine learning, cybersecurity, and robotic process automation. Heading into the new year, channel partner businesses can expect many of these technology trends to continue and set the stage for other tech developments.
In this article, senior site writer John Moore highlighted seven pivotal trends based on predictions and insight gleaned from IT executive interviews and tech conferences. Find out why these technologies should be on partners' radars.
Further reading: Learn more about how service providers are supporting customers' digital transformation projects.
4. RPA market's next step? It's complicated
After an initial surge of RPA projects, customers took a step back and questioned the technology. In some cases, organizations' RPA deployments failed to achieve expected business results.
"The initial wave of RPA projects were sold on the promise of ROI through reduced labor costs that could not be realized, except in cases of high transactional volumes or processes that were very time-consuming in nature," said Greg Betz, senior vice president of data intelligence and automation at NTT Data Services.
In this article, partners, industry analysts and vendors discussed why it is difficult to predict RPA's next development stage.
Further reading: Gartner forecasted that the RPA market is to reach $1.58 billion in 2020.
5. Accenture cloud computing paves way for integration plan
In December 2019, IT professional services firm Accenture embarked on a three-year initiative to integrate multiple internal platforms used to conduct business. The initiative aims to provide Accenture employees with a holistic work experience, while also building on the investments the company has made in moving its business and operations to the public cloud.
In this article, Moore spoke with Accenture CIO Penelope Prett about the company's cloud strategy and approach to achieving "an integrated experience."
Further reading: In September, Accenture invested $3 billion in the Accenture Cloud First group.
6. Top 5 MSP challenges in the 2021 business climate
While IT services firms are, by and large, optimistic about market growth next year, the ongoing pandemic has introduced many variables to keep close tabs on. This climate of uncertainty makes short- and long-term channel partner business planning a particularly difficult -- but critical -- task. Additionally, finding one's competitive edge amid changing market dynamics will also prove challenging.
In this article, MSPs and IT consultants discussed the challenges ahead and how their companies aim to overcome them.
Further reading: The demand for multi-cloud services creates opportunities for partners.
7. IBM Cloud partner ecosystem expands in software push
Big Blue has set its sights on winning major share in the hybrid and multi-cloud market. As the company advances its cloud efforts, IBM envisions its channel partners playing a key role by providing Red Hat OpenShift and IBM Cloud Paks to their customers.
In this article, Moore outlined IBM's channel partner strategy, which includes recruiting a network of cloud alliances. Additionally, IBM business partners Tech Mahindra, Techwave Consulting and Tech Data weigh in on the top IBM Cloud opportunities, including legacy systems migration and application modernization.
Further reading: IBM spins out its managed infrastructure services business to focus more exclusively on hybrid cloud.
8. Accenture: Industrial digital transformation needs leaders
Industrial players face competitive pressure to modernize their business practices, often by using complex new technologies such as IoT, 3D printing and digital twins. However, these industrial digital transformation projects provide a host of technical and leadership challenges -- pain points that Accenture's Industry X.0 is focused on solving.
In this Q&A , Nigel Stacey, managing director and global lead for Accenture's Industry X.0 unit, talked in-depth about how industrial customers can break down organizational silos.
Further reading: Contributor Paul Korzeniowski described Accenture's involvement in a digital transformation project for Enel Group, a European energy company.
9. 5 RMM tools MSPs can use to bolster client IT infrastructure
For most MSPs, remote monitoring and management (RMM) software sits at the heart of their operations. While competing RMM platforms overlap in product features and functionalities, each product provides a range of distinct advantages for MSPs to consider.
In this product roundup, Shein detailed the key attributes of RMM software offerings from ConnectWise, Kaseya, Atera, Datto and SolarWinds.
Further reading: Here's a roundup of five professional services automation tools for MSPs.
10. Channel execs say coronavirus spurs remote work technology
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, channel partners were at the forefront of the massive migration from office-based work to work-from-home setups. Partners helped customers sort through options for remote work and collaboration products, and they assisted in the implementation of those technologies.
In this article, Moore spoke with partners such as Packet Fusion, Softchoice and Yorktel about the increasing demand for remote work technology and the impact on channel partner business strategy.
Further reading: Learn more about how MSPs stepped up to help their clients during the first wave of the pandemic.