As I prepare to attend CompTIA’s annual DC fly-in in February, I’m reflecting on the future of the channel and small business in America. The Fly-in was put together as a way for the most ubiquitous small technology business – The Solution Provider – to have their say on Capital Hill. Since this is my third Fly-in, I can attest that in politics, showing up is half the battle. He who is heard last is often heard loudest when votes are held on key legislation. While progress has been made for small technology businesses, I worry what the future holds for the channel.
According to anecdotal information from CompTIA members, as many as 1/3 of owners currently identifying themselves as solution providers plan on closing up shop in the next few years – mostly for retirement. This opens the door for new entrants and new business models to take hold. Is it any wonder that in an environment of increased regulation and a higher cost of doing business that new businesses are leveraging the hell out of the cloud and technology in general to build virtual teams? These virtual companies add value to customers with as few employees as possible and a small physical footprint. Perhaps as virtualization disassociated us from the need to touch and feel our servers, low footprint virtual service providers will fly under the radar of government regulation, healthcare mandates and the counterproductive incentives that stand in the way of building profitable small companies. To build a new channel and a new nimble small business model, solution providers are inventing new ways every day of leveraging the cloud and serving as the glue that binds together diverse IT projects. This is driving a renaissance in what it means to be a solution provider and how solution providers operate.
But I am hopeful in 2015. While it has never been tougher to start a small business in America, there have never been a more diverse set of opportunities for those who call themselves solution providers.