Distributors in ASEAN will differentiate across core technology segments such as cloud, security and data in 2020, delivered as-a-service amid a changing channel ecosystem.
That’s the view of six leading distributors in Southeast Asia, outlining key priorities for the year ahead following a snapshot survey by Channel Asia.
The distributors profiled represent the entire supply chain across the region, spanning hardware, software and specialist capabilities, ranging from mainstream to niche providers with presence in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, alongside the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam among others.
In response to the question - what's the next opportunity for channel partners in ASEAN? - here’s how the experts see the market shaping up during the months and years ahead.
With organisations in ASEAN now on board and now investing, cloud has moved past the hype and into the mainstream, creating new opportunities for the channel as a result.
“Cloud adoption is growing at an exponential rate albeit being low at the beginning,” observed Francis Choo, vice president and chief executive of ASEAN and Hong Kong at Ingram Micro. “One thing is for sure: cloud is real, and is here to stay. Partners should embrace the transformation and jump on this opportunity and ramp up their cloud offerings and capabilities.
“Cloud solutions provide the flexibility and cost-effectiveness that businesses need in today’s market. The growth in variety, complexity and integration of cloud and hybrid business needs offers vast opportunities for cloud service providers who have the expertise to offer this to customers.”
Moving into 2020, Choo said partners should be in “no doubt” that the technology industry will continue to be “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous”.
“But that also means plenty of opportunities to capture providing partners invest carefully in the right tools and talents,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mark Tan - managing director of Innovix Distribution - acknowledged that customer preference in terms of public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud is driven by “price, preference and data sovereignty or residency strategies”.
“This is alongside any other additional values that cloud vendors can provide,” he explained. “A cloud management platform may become essential for users to be able to clearly and efficiently manage their data within these clouds.”
Speaking as president of Asia Pacific at Tech Data, Jaideep Malhotra reported a “momentum boost” for public cloud growth across the region.
“Customer workloads are well beyond lift and shift with the market leveraging cloud for innovation and transformation across the digital enterprise,” he added. “There will be pockets of opportunity across application modernisation, DevOps, workload optimisation and software-as-a-service [SaaS].
“For our partners that play in the infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS] space, we recommend adding skills and capabilities that cater to advanced workloads and architect redesign to optimise for cloud.”
According to Florent Bellahsene - vice president of Asia Pacific at Crayon - technology is beginning to shape “how we live our lives” but there remains “some way to go” before it becomes accessible for everyone.
“Cloud, or as-a-service offerings, are democratising technology and are going to impact every aspect of the channel business,” he said. “As a result, the ways of engagement for an IT channel needs to evolve and go digital.
“For partners to thrive in this age of constant digital evolution, the channel will have to be one step ahead. Channel partners must understand the data and insights about cloud and customer consumption and usage to adapt their offers, services and profits.
“We often think about solutions, investments in services and technologies but we also believe that channel partners need to look for profitability as well and maintain it.”
Operating as a specialist distributor for more than 30 years across Asia Pacific, ACA Pacific has focused on transforming in alignment with the evolution of cloud locally, creating a new-look go-to-market strategy in the process.
“We select and integrate ‘best-of-breed’ offerings to meet changing business dynamics,” explained Craig Gledhill, CEO of ACA Pacific. “Our cloud offerings include solutions in artificial intelligence [AI], business transformation, next-generation data centre and cyber security.
“In line with the transformation of our offerings and moving towards providing leading edge solutions, we have also focused on training our sales and engineering staff on new technologies so that we can provide our partners with the best service and support in the industry.”
Taking the conversation further, Lie Heng - director of Synnex Metrodata Indonesia - identified a range of new technologies capable of distributing the traditional channel ecosystem, spanning Dev-Ops, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, big data, analytics and cloud,
“There’s value in developing IP or packaging IP solutions for system integrators as they move from selling products to selling solutions and moving towards managed service providers,” he outlined. “Dev-Ops is also a huge opportunity with the market expected to see an exodus of traditional applications and the rise of cloud native applications.
“With the majority of customers in ASEAN still running on-premises applications, many companies are evaluating application strategies. These are the core applications that need to be moved to the cloud by rewriting or migrating, meaning they must assess which apps to leave behind and how to adopt SaaS.”
For Lie Heng, the partner opportunity remains “phenomenal” due to the advancement of compute power and connectivity, which is now allowing businesses to leverage smarter AI technologies.
“With IoT also coming into the picture, the opportunity is huge with all the data generated by the sensors, especially the computer vision technology,” he added. “Hence technology from the edge, core and the cloud will need to be harnessed to reach full potential.
“And then we have security - the opportunity is getting bigger both for physical security and cyber security as the technology and attack points becoming complex and large. Not forgetting automation, as companies drive to become more efficient the opportunity is expanding both in the physical and virtual worlds."
Maintaining the data theme, Malhotra of Tech Data said customers in ASEAN are continuing to "breakdown silos" and therefore require solutions capable of managing "vast volumes of data".
“Particularity in the areas of analytics, machine learning and AI,” he said. “Demand for data virtualisation, data cataloguing and hybrid cloud data integration solutions will increase to manage this formidable amount of data.
“The sweet spot will be partners who can leverage their current data management capabilities and build a roadmap towards advanced engineering, infusing AI and analytics to enhance their next-generation offerings.”
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