The survey of senior business leaders and industry veterans finds the channel is growing, particularly in the areas of cloud and managed services, and that more opportunity is ahead.
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“Optimism” sums up the findings of the ChannelPro 2015 State of the SMB Channel survey. More than 89 percent of survey respondents report increased revenue and profits from 2013 to 2014, and 92 percent expect another rise for 2015. Perhaps most important, the channel is poised for growth, with 48 percent of respondents planning to add headcount.
ChannelPro collected data electronically from more than 550 survey respondents, most of whom are senior business leaders and industry veterans, between December 2014 and February 2015. Among respondents, more than 87 percent are in management, 75 percent have been in business for at least 10 years, and 55 percent state that their firms generate $1 million-plus in revenue.
Practices and solutions that are generating the most profit for the channel include backup and disaster recovery (BDR), managed services, cloud solutions, remote monitoring and management (RMM), and security.
Cloud services continue to gain ground, with 77 percent of respondents providing these solutions today. The top five solutions offered are spam filtering, anti-virus, backup and disaster recovery (BDR), email hosting, and website hosting.
Today, 40 percent of respondent say that 10 to 49 percent of their revenue is now generated by cloud services, and 50 percent expect increased cloud growth in 2015.
Managed services remain the linchpin of channel offerings, with 87 percent of respondents providing these solutions currently. Moreover, a vast majority (83 percent) are generating 49 percent of their review from managed services. And growth in this area continues apace, with 46 percent of respondents expecting growth in this area in 2015.
Looking ahead, digital signage, Google Apps, managed print services (MPS), and videoconferencing top the list of future growth areas, according to respondents.
Top Business Opportunities, Threats
Asked where the biggest future business opportunities are for their companies, respondents identified the top five as:
- Access control solutions
- Acquiring new customers
- Cloud services
- Digital signage
Respondents also signal opportunity to expand into new industries, as well as in areas such as healthcare, sales process improvement, compliance and security, video surveillance, and hosted VoIP.
In terms of the top five threats to their businesses, respondents identify those as:
- Thin margins from cloud offerings
- Commoditization of managed services
- Customers’ resistance to cloud
- Decline in the economy resulting in spending cuts in IT/telecom
- Distraction from being focused on improving channel pros’ expertise
Other threats include increased competition from other channel partners and big box stores, cybersecurity breaches for clients as well as internal breaches, and vendors bypassing the channel and going direct.
Despite potential threats, more than 93 percent of respondents see the economy as a whole improving in 2015 and express high optimism for their specific firms. Significantly, more than 93 percent see staff salaries trending up in 2015. Respondents say the biggest compensation growth opportunity is for sales and technical staff
The 2015 State of the SMB Channel respondents work in all major vertical markets, with the top five vertical growth leaders in retail, manufacturing, legal/professional, home/SOHO , and government.
DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE STATE OF THE SMB CHANNEL REPORT: You must be a ChannelPro site member to access the report—it's free, easy, and quick to sign up as a member on this page. Once you are a member, download the report here.
See highlights of the survey by clicking the images below or the "Next>" link above.
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