2018 VAR Predictions: Out With the Old, In With the New Previous item 2018 Cisco Predictions... Next item 2018 Cyber Predictions...

2018 is “the year of the visionary” in the VARs world, according to Dan Forbes, Comstor Director of Business Development, who spoke with EDGE360 recently as a follow up to our 2017 Year in Review post.

As VARs look ahead at the New Year, there is a significant mindset change that need to take place, according to Forbes. In our latest interview, he explains why it is vital for VARs to change their approach to business. The “old VAR approach” – just taking orders from customers – must give way to the emergence of a new  behavior that is innovative, flexible, involves looking for new models of revenue and includes a willingness to work with customers to customize solutions for them. These “new” VARs already are outpacing and out-competing more established VARs.

EDGE360: In your 2017 trends, you stressed the importance of staying nimble in order to stay ahead of the predictions. Do you have other pieces of advice for how to stay ahead of the technology curve in 2018?

Dan Forbes: I think 2018 is going to be the year of the visionary. I think companies that have a plan and companies that are embracing innovative technologies and new ways to sell are going to stay ahead of the game. Those still trapped in the mindset of “How many boxes am I going to ship this month?” will learn, quickly, that to be an old-world model. It’s funny saying that, because I live in an industry that was founded on how effectively we can ship a box. For many years when you visited a distributor, the first place they would take you was the warehouse to show you how effectively they can ship a box.

In more and more discussions, specifically in discussions with SYNNEX Corporation, the conversation is not centered around the warehouse facility and how effectively you can ship the box. These discussions focus on how effectively you can build a practice, new ways you can build a market and capture these opportunities, whether it be in IoT or vertical models. It’s really more about information sharing and understanding what it’s going to take to build effective practices in the future versus how quickly I can ship a box to you. That’s just going to be table stakes.

EDGE360: That sounds like great advice.  Is there anything else that VARs should prepare for in 2018?

Forbes: The biggest thing that I hear when I speak to partners is “How do we maintain profitable growth, and how do we do that without becoming stretched too thin?”  I have found that a lot of partners struggle with servicing the customers they have in their portfolio without taking on things that aren’t core to their business. And that’s always been a challenge, for certainly local and regional-sized companies — always trying to be ‘everything’ to that customer. You want to be their “one-stop shop” and the reality is you just can’t do that anymore.

EDGE360: What must a VAR focus on for success?

Forbes: If you’re an expert in cybersecurity, you’re an expert in cybersecurity. You can’t be halfway in. That’s a practice you need to build, and you need to be all in, you need to know all the angles – you can’t muddle your way through that practice. The same goes for any technology focus these days: You can’t be all things to all people. I think it’s important that VARs really look at what is core to their business, what they can do to build integrity into the practices that they have, and what areas should they start to find partners. They also must decide what areas they should just stop looking at in terms of focus. At some point, if they aren’t really investing and aren’t really building a model that isn’t future proof, trying to stay in those areas is going to start impacting them negatively. I think focusing on profitable growth and practicing integrity are two areas that will be big for VARs as we move forward.