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Jay Bradley, President, Intelisys, a ScanSource Company

The Cloud Rolls in for Channel Connect 2019

They say there’s no time like the present, and never has that statement been truer than when looking at the unparalleled opportunity for agents in the channel – specifically in relation to the cloud. From increased scalability to enhanced security and agility, it’s no secret that the cloud is becoming the new norm. In fact, the cloud is the very foundation on which emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT are built. With Channel Connect just around the corner, I’m excited to share exactly why the cloud industry is booming, and why our partners and their customers are well-positioned to reap the benefits.

Once predominately for small- and medium-sized businesses – those who might not necessarily be able to afford to have a dedicated IT team and the associated hardware – the cloud has since found its way into nearly every enterprise across the country. While the original SMB market still represents tremendous opportunity, the nation’s largest companies have also recognized its value and its ability to help them accomplish business objectives.

Of course, this evolution is one that comes naturally. Companies today have moved from building systems on-premise to switching to the cloud or a cloud-hybrid solution. Why? For one, the cloud is cost-efficient. It advances a company’s bottom line and saves on operating expenses. The fact is that few companies today would prefer to buy, build, deploy and manage on-premise equipment. Regular upgrades and an around-the-clock staff to support the hardware can be a hassle. But moving everything to the cloud allows companies to focus on what they do best while outsourcing their software-related needs. Not only is this good news for you, as an agent, but it’s good news for you as a consumer. When businesses have lower operating costs and a laser focus on the product or service, it creates a better product or service.

And all industries are included in this transformation – not just technology companies. Take popular pizza delivery companies for example. They sell pizza, but they also sell the experience of ordering pizza. Consumers used to only have two choices for buying a pizza: calling or walking into a store. Today they have over 15 ways, including using social media and emojis or utilizing voice commands – none of which would be possible without the cloud.

But it’s not just the ability to order pizza a different way every day of the week that should excite you; it’s the nearly endless possibilities that stem from the cloud. The channel today is no longer linear, meaning anyone within a company may choose to adopt the cloud. Decision making has become more distributed than ever before, opening doors for agents to nurture multiple different relationships within an organization in order to win approval for new services. Gone are the days when chief technology officers were the sole technology decision makers. Leaders of all levels now have a say, especially when it comes to technology needs and upgrades.

A project manager may choose to switch to Office 365, or the marketing team may choose to adopt cloud-based Adobe services. In fact, 65 percent of today’s tech decisions are made by an array of different business leaders, and roughly a third no longer involve IT at all. That’s a tremendous change, and it’s good news for those of us in the Channel. Furthermore, as Millennials – a generation that grew up using digital tools for nearly everything they do – move into decision-making positions within a company, you'd better believe they’ll be pushing for the cloud. As organizations look towards the future, it’s not surprising to see how the cloud is influencing the development of some of the latest emerging technologies, such as AI, AR, VR and machine learning. It’s necessary to support the mind-blowing number of data points required. Just as restaurants have created new ways of ordering, ride sharing companies are working on new ways of getting a person from Point A to Point B. Most recently, these developments have been seen in the emergence of self-driving cars – something I don’t think we have yet to fully appreciate the scale and potential of. These cars will demand the storage of billions of data points in order to function autonomously. Meanwhile, other companies will benefit from the cloud by pulling data from social media, applications, website traffic, consumer behavior, etc., to cross-correlate data and create repositories unlike anything before, ultimately allowing businesses to create market strategies, targeted promotions, and business plans rooted in invaluable, real-time data. It would be virtually impossible to store all of this data on premise.

It’s no doubt that the future belongs to those who embrace change, and those who recognize that the cloud may be the ticket to even more success. Soon, nearly half of all data will be stored on the cloud, and the companies that choose to utilize it will be able to collect unfathomable amounts of data, gain key insights and implement emerging technologies that we’re just beginning to dream of. I hope this helps to set the stage for Channel Connect, and I can’t wait to see you there!