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Integration: Prepare for the future

While integration has always been important from an IT perspective, recent trends have reinforced the strategic importance of integrating applications and data to provide customers with analytics and automation capabilities to better serve their needs. Being agile with new services deployment and building resiliency into operations and IT systems both require integration. Businesses were already using integration to enhance their capabilities across these areas coming into 2020, and COVID-19 reinforced the importance of this strategy in a big way. The good news is that most organizations are confident their current integration strategies and platforms are adequately supporting their business needs. The not-so-good news is businesses are much less confident their integration strategies will be able to meet changing and evolving future requirements. Organizations that are highly confident with their existing integration strategies provide some clues around how to develop a future-ready integration strategy, including enabling citizen developers, establishing competency centers, and utilizing platforms and partners that know their business. While there may not be a silver bullet to improve integration strategies, collectively these strategies can enhance the ability of IT to support future business needs.  

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Distributors and VARs: The unsung heroes of the IoT market

The background

Commercial IoT has received substantial press over the last three years. It started in 2015 with hyped claims of IoT’s ability to deliver total transformation, but expectations around the technology have matured and IoT is now viewed as a reasonable technique for solving business problems. However, one thing has not changed: When it comes to IoT market participants, the focus of the discussion remains on larger IT vendors, SIs and customers. The missing story is the involvement of the distributors, VARs and smaller SIs, and the current needs of the small to midsize customers.

What are distributors?

Distributors sit between IT vendors and VARs or SIs, procuring equipment or software from the former and distributing it to the latter two. Because distributors generally have a very large customer base, they can help vendors reach more customers or provide a channel for vendors that cannot afford to build their own, such as smaller ISVs. Because distributors procure equipment from vendors and stock it themselves, they are incentivized to educate VARs or SIs about vendor products and help market them as well as to deliver sales training, demos and exhibitions. Distributors are masters of the supply chain, bundling and contract negotiations.

What are VARs?

VARs, along with SIs, serve on the frontline of IT and offer a more tailored storefront to customers than a larger vendor. VARs will seek to build and deliver turnkey solutions by mixing and matching technology and software, as well as layering on services of their own, such as integration, customization, consulting, training and implementation. VARs are often organized by customer type, from those offering general IT services to those specializing in education, the public sector, heavy industry and other niche areas. VARs, along with SIs, often have the keenest grasp on customer challenges, making them well positioned to package IoT components, build applications or offer services.