2011 has yielded some surprising momentum for the Channel. With the cable industry, cloud providers and so many other companies making more commitments to the Channel. I think that there are 3 things we need to watch for in The Channel in 2012.
In 2012, we will see more M&A. Credit is cheap. Companies are sitting on cash. It's a good time to buy instead of build, especially cloud services. Look for any company that offers managed services to be acquired if they have real revenue, an engaged Channel, and a unique product set (that the acquiring company doesn't have.)
Certifications have been popping up all over - not just at the TCA. There is a lot of variation in product offerings in both cloud and managed services. It will take much education for the Channel to understand what is being offered, by whom and for whom. Webinars and marketing collateral alone will not work. Certificate programs will identify the professionals - those that are committed and deserve the limited resources available.
Without a doubt, we have not heard the end of the noise of the Cloud. It's no prediction. What we will see is what cloud providers can (A) differentiate themselves with a clear, concise value message and (B) what cloud providers - cloud comm providers included - can gain organic revenue in the face of cable competition. As I write this, one RBOC is pushing a 10MB ethernet bundle with a SIP PRI for cheap against a similar Comcast package. The competition for every deal will increase as the economy remains flat and each slice of the telecom pie - TV, broadband, voice, cellular - remains flat as well. The problem with this is that sales will be tough, revenues will decline and with it commission checks. Ouch!