IT channel sales in the next year will focus heavily on distributed infrastructure products and services, including network security, voice-over-IP, storage solutions, and systems integration, according to new research commissioned by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, based in

Chicago.

The study examined the impact of emerging technologies and solutions on IT channel companies, and their strategies for embracing them.

Companies said their “sweet spot” – where they expect to see high growth over the next several years – centers on distributed network infrastructure and desktop products and related integration services.

More than six in ten companies expect to see an increase in hardware sales (62.5 per cent) and software sales (60.3 per cent) in the next year.

“Finding the right mix of current and new technology solutions is an on-going priority for the channel as companies look for ways to differentiate their product and service portfolios and grow their business,” said David Sommer, vice president, electronic commerce, CompTIA.

“Companies we’ve surveyed clearly believe that technologies for a highly distributed network environment are the way to go for the next twenty-four months.”

Areas where the channel expects to see the most growth in the coming year include systems integration and application implementation, where 68.3 per cent of companies expect to see increase in sales; network security (67 per cent); and storage solutions (63 per cent).

The channel is especially keen on new technologies that require non-vendor services for enablement. For example, more than one-quarter of responding companies (26.2 per cent) said they plan this year to add voice-over-IP solutions to their product and service offerings; and 19 per cent of companies expect to see significant increases in VoIP-related sales.

Specialized offerings, niche services and bundled services also are seen as areas for growth and opportunities for higher profit margins.

The IT channel study, conducted for CompTIA by the Yankee Group, identified key business challenges facing IT channel companies today and over the next 12 months.

More than 500 individuals participated in the study, which targeted decision-makers from IT resellers, VARs, service providers, and systems integrators in North America. Respondents were primarily small, regional firms (75 per cent of participants employ fewer than 100 people; 49 per cent sell into one metro area).

A summary of the IT channel study is available on the CompTIA Web site at: http://www.comptia.org/members/corp/files/summary/itchannelsummaryyg -04.pdf.

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