Softcat CEO Graeme Watt has highlighted three areas that he believes to be driving sustainable growth for the channel, claiming that he "hasn't previously seen the market so buoyant for such a length of time" in his 30 years in the industry.
Speaking at CRN's European Channel Leadership Forum (ECLF), Watt (pictured) said that the introduction of GDPR and the migration to Windows 10 have provided one-off boosts to the market that he expects to have impetus into 2019, but said that three sustainable areas in particular are keeping the channel in a more than healthy state.
"Cloud adoption, far from cutting out the channel, has added to our business," he explained.
"Issues of security, how easy it is to migrate data to the cloud and back, and the suitability of data sitting on the cloud [are providing opportunities].
"Cloud isn't always the most cost-effective model to apply either, meaning that on-premise technology is alive and kicking. On-premise datacentre technology needs to be optimised and modernised alongside the other options around cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, which also means that customers need our support and consultancy.
"There are lots of opportunities now and in the future from the adoption of cloud and these opportunities appear to be incremental for now ."
The second trend, Watt said, is the need for organisations in every sector to become technology companies, or risk falling behind their competitors.
"We're in an environment which I would describe as an all-pervasive technology era. Every company has to be a technology company; it doesn't matter what industry they are in.
"Everybody needs technology to solve business issues or create competitive advantages and I think it is hugely exciting. That trend is here to stay. There is a huge amount of technology still coming to market such as AI,robotics, drone technology and machine learning as well."
Thirdly, Watt said that the rapid growth of Internet of Things technology, and the data gathered by these devices, will mean an increase in IT infrastructure spend to make use of this new information.
"The third area which for me creates optimism not just for now but sustainable growth engines for our business, is around demand for data and the appetite to digitise and instrument our environment," he said.
"There are thousands of examples where a deployment of sensors in a solution is adding value and driving IT demand.
"That new wave of data creation needs to be computed, stored, accessed, networked, secured and analysed. That drives a huge amount of demand."
Watt joined Softcat as CEO earlier this year, bringing an end to a career in distribution which most recently saw him head up Tech Data's EMEA enterprise business.
He said that Softcat currently sources half of its business direct from vendors - mostly Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and Mimecast - with the other half coming via distribution.
Watt claimed that one of the main differences between the two areas of the channel is that the reseller space is more focused on the direction set by customers.
"We have deep and meaningful relationships and vendors can't easily reach those customers," he said. "Softcat is all about our staff and our customers and our agenda is very heavily set by those customers. Distributors focus on customers too but they are a little more vendor led in terms of the agenda.
"The other impact I see is that when I see and hear about changes in businesses - such as software implementations or datacentre refreshes - because we are working with the end customer now I think that it is an immediate opportunity for Softcat."
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