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Why The Bad Economy Isn’t All Bad All The Time
|29 января 2009|
As the global economy falls further into recession and businesses continue to scale back IT investments, managed and hosted services could be a silver lining for channel partners.
AMI-Partners’ new study found that “despite an expected contraction in overall IT spending in 2009, U.S. channel partners predict that their managed services revenues will actually grow by 20 percent in the next 12 months.”
That’s good news for both the channel partners that offer these types of services and the manufacturers that continue to make significant investments in these solutions. “About one out of every three U.S. channel partners offers these types of services and, ironically, this economy presents a strong opportunity for them,” says Avinash Arun, senior analyst at AMI. “Revenues from IT services and support, particularly in a slowing market, are important for partners, so many of them are struggling to shift their business models to focus more on value-added services.”
A key reason partners continue to look for ways to grow their services business is the relatively higher margins they yield compared to hardware. According to the AMI study, U.S. partners said they derive, on average, 41-percent margins on sales of IT services, 36 percent on Internet services and 35 percent on custom software development.
Comparatively, the margins they earn on sales of computing and networking hardware are typically about 50-percent lower. Adds Arun, “This has led to a sales model that resembles that of the razor-blade industry, where partners offer basic, low-margin computing hardware products with the hopes of generating profits by bundling in higher value services such as integration, systems maintenance, support and training. Hardware sales continue to contribute about one-third to partners’ total average annual revenues. Despite the increased focus on services, the revenue balance hasn’t changed much over the past year, underscoring the challenge that partners and manufacturers face in making the transition.”
For the channel partners’ small and mid-sized business customers, the deteriorating economic environment, of course, means increased scrutiny on all IT investments. AMI has found 67 percent of businesses are expecting decreased revenues in the coming months and 66 percent expect to restrict cash flows during the same time. “This in isolation appears to be a grim forecast for IT channel partners,” it says. “However, it could also mean increased services and consulting opportunities, as half of the businesses surveyed also indicated that they plan to look for ways to leverage technology to reduce costs and drive efficiency and productivity.”
AMI Channels Vice President Ryan Brock believes this also is good news for the relatively small but valuable segment of partners that are able to provide these consultative, value-added services to SMBs. “For the manufacturers hoping to tap into this partner-base to drive sales of their emerging managed and hosted solutions, identifying and targeting these services-competent partners may be the difference between winning and losing in the early stages of this evolving market,” he concludes.