This is a guest blog post. Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Alastair Edwards, Channel Analyst at Canalys.
There is a consistently optimistic streak running through Juniper’s channel partners at its Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas this week. Most partners I’ve spoken to over the last few days are predicting business growth in 2012, and not just in the US. Even in EMEA, where Eurozone instability threatens to push the region back into recession, partners are generally highly positive about prospects for 2012. I had the opportunity to put this to the test on Tuesday, presenting to around 300 of Juniper’s EMEA partners at the theatre break-out. Using a live, real-time polling engine (we analysts love these tools, particularly when they work this well), I asked the audience about their expectations for the year. An impressive 64% of respondents plan to grow their business by more than 10% year-on year! Most of the remaining 36% expect revenues to increase by up to 10%, with only 7% predicting flat or declining sales.
Just take a second to absorb those stats. Two thirds of the channel expect double digit growth in 2012. And that’s against a background of economic uncertainty, lengthening sales cycles and greater budget scrutiny by end-customers. The state of the economy (and budget pressure) is by far the channel’s greatest concern, according to another live poll question: 49% of audience respondents see this as their biggest challenge in 2012. So how can we square these two apparently contradictory trends? The important question, of course, is where all this growth will come from?
At Canalys, we believe that IT industry growth in 2012 will be defined by some important, inter-related themes, including enterprise mobility, data center/cloud and the consumerization of IT. The traditional Wintel PC market is evolving fast towards mobile devices (smart phones and tablets, many running non-Windows operating systems). Combined with trends like ‘bring your own device’, there are huge implications for the way data and applications are accessed, managed and secured. The need for customers to reduce their operating costs, while freeing themselves from the inflexibility of legacy infrastructure is driving a lot of interest in cloud. In reality, this is translating into large scale investments in data center transformation, and secure, high performance networks. Channel partners who are able to fulfil these demands will benefit; those who are able to help customers to navigate successfully through the complexities of these trends will prosper!
Of course, developing the skills needed to capture this growth is not easy. My poll showed that, after the economy, a shortage of appropriate skills is the next greatest challenge for partners. This is where vendors need to step up in terms of partner training and skills development. Juniper’s commitment this week to increase investment in enablement, enhanced sales and technical education, and a new partner program will be well received by partners. Translating this promise into reality will not be easy, but will be crucial for Juniper and its partners to take advantage of these lucrative opportunities.
Do you agree or have differing opinions to the above mentioned polling results taken at the partner conference? Then post your comments below, I would be interested in hearing from you.