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Get Ready for 50 Solution Cloud Portfolios, More Vendor Conflict

The average solution provider will soon manage a portfolio of 50 cloud solutions and can look forward to direct sales battles with vendors, predicts channel veteran Bob Godgart.

Godgart's comments came Tuesday during the SMB Online Conference going on this week. Godgart has an exceptionally broad view of the IT industry. In addition to founding Autotask, he is chairman of CompTIA and more recently launched ChannelEyes, a platform for vendors to communicate with partners.

"I think in less than two years, the average partner will manage a portfolio of 50 cloud solutions," Godgart said during one of the opening keynotes in the three-day conference for IT services companies. Godgart added that the number of solutions managed could rise to 100 at some point. That scale of products on the line card represents a significant jump from the way business is done today. For example, a recent CompTIA survey found that on average, a channel firm belongs to eight different vendor programs.

Channel professionals of the millennial generation are most comfortable with cloud solutions, skewing the portfolio even more cloudward. "Partners of the future may not even know what CAPEX means," Godgart said.

Godgart's other major forecast was for "significant vendor direct competition" with managed services providers and IT services companies representing cloud offerings. "I'm sure this [opinion] is not going to be popular," Godgart said. Between consumerization of IT and new freemium models, the temptation for vendors to go direct with cloud-based tools will be too big to pass up, he argued.

In the remote monitoring and management tool arena, Godgart cited Spiceworks with its ad-supported model as one example of the types of challenges MSPs will face.

Solution providers should take sensible self-defense measures, such as leading with their own brand by representing products that they can white label, entering into longer-term contracts with vendors and demanding price protection clauses in those contracts for the inevitable drastic drops in price.

Godgart made a few other predictions in his talk that aligned with the direction he's set for ChannelEyes. Currently in beta, ChannelEyes is a free and secure online portal for connecting vendors and channel partners. Godgart believes that solution provider employees are going to start demanding a "single pane of glass," where they can get all the information they need from all their vendors' channel programs.

He also anticipated that "mobile channel information delivery will be the new normal," a bet that ChannelEyes is capitalizing on with a new ChannelEyes App scheduled to come out this summer. A teaser image on the ChannelEyes Web site makes it look like the company's initial plans call for iPhone, iPad and Android versions.

During his talk, Godgart also hinted at what he might have in mind for ChannelEyes a few years down the road -- a hyper-personalized, cross-vendor ID card. "Obviously, there's a whole lot of technology and security wrapped around that, but wouldn't it be cool if you didn't have to tell every vendor about...your job role, your interests and how you like to get information?"

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 27, 2012