SMB Nation Blog

Small business IT and technology news for the SMB channel VAR, MSP, and IT professional.

Community Corner: Seattle Give Camp this Weekend

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Good day, SMB Nation Community! The team is coming off the heels of our 12th annual SMB Nation Fall Conference, and we wanted to pass along an interesting bit of news we heard at this year’s event.

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dandhjpgThis morning, D&H Distributing announced that it will be offering the Intel Retail Client Manager software to its partners. As part of this new digital signage offering, the distribution company will also be hosting one of its well-respected Solutions Lab sessions on October 7 at 2pm Eastern.

“Digital signage has been a viable product application for some time. However, the market has been waiting on a practical and easy-to-use platform that empowers companies to manage these displays and turn them into truly persuasive business tools. RCM’s analytic component lets users customize content to engage specific viewers and generate sales, which is a breakthrough capability,” said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales for D&H Distributing.

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voxoxVoxox today announced the promotion of Joann Farrar to the role of VP, agent channel, Joe Schiavone to the role of VP, dealer channel, and Tad Nikolich to the role of SVP business sales.

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The week that was – September 28, 2014

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It was another jam packed week in IT land, what with Spiceworld (no not the girl power Brit poppers, but rather the SpiceWorks conference in Austin), Continuum’s Navigate show, and Ingram Micro ’s ONE event in Las Vegas, not to mention our own humble conference in Seattle.

Last week we started with iPhone 6 news and since that went so well we're going back to the well for some more. Apparently iPhone users have discovered a hole in Apple’s there’s-an-app-for-that universe. It seems there’s no app that lets your phone double as a stool. If you sit on it it will break! Shocker! The idea that a delicate piece of technology (would you sit on your flatscreen TV?) can’t support the weight of your average human is, naturally, beyond the pale for some people who have broken their expensive devices and whined about it online to all and sundry. So far Apple has reported only nine complaints, but dumb is contagious so no doubt there will be more. Naturally this turned into a Thing. (Even Consumer Reports got into the act, testing a bunch of phones in a bend test. No Apple didn't win the sit-on-it-Potsy sweepstakes.) Somehow this is Apple’s fault. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an Apple user. I don’t love iPhones, or iPods or iPads, or i-Whatevers. I prefer devices with a bit less pry-ware, but I digress. That all said, I kind of feel for the company on this one. Only an idiot sits on his or her phone. But then again, maybe the people who do this are trying to mindmeld with Siri and the back pocket is the closest they can get her to their brains.

Now this, on the other hand, is something you can lay at Apple’s feet.

Teachable moment: Apple botches iOS 8 updateApple Logo

Apple botched the iOS 8.0.1 update so badly that the maker of all things i* had to pull it from the app store just two hours after releasing it. Apple scrambled back to the drawing board following a deluge of user complaints about problems with cellular network connectivity and Touch ID on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and issued a fresh patch – 8.0.2 – the next day. That wasn’t fast enough for some and Apple shares took a hit, tumbling more than three percent to $98.47. Many IT solution providers have taken this as a teachable moment for their clients: Regardless of what IT product you are talking about, never be the first to download a new update. Wait at least a day or two to let the bugs – and there are almost always bugs – reveal themselves and be addressed by the vendor.

BlackBerry gets back to its enterprise-oriented roots with the new Passport

Still in the land of smartphones: Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry unveiled its new device. The BlackBerry Passport is a clear sign that the inventor of the smartphone is listening to all the people who have been telling it to stick with what it’s good at and re-engaging with the enterprise business market.

Blackberry-passport"As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea -- to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen (see photo, inset) in a statement. "The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices."

The Passport is no consumer device (To start with it won’t fit in your back pocket!), featuring a square-shaped 4.5 x 4.5 in. display that the vendor says was designed to support the specific needs of business users as opposed to the consumer the company had started trying to woo years ago, leading the organization to the brink of ruin. Also front a center: the traditional BB tactile keyboard has been given a makeover, making use of the larger form factor to provide bigger keys and the potential for an easier, more accurate typing experience for those of us with fat thumbs. The Passport will also come equipped with the next BlackBerry OS: BB10.3.

(Disclosure: I mentioned earlier that I’m not an Apple fan. In fairness, I thought I should let you know that I currently use a BB Z30. I don't love BB any more than Apple -- especially after making the mistake of buying a Playbook -- but I got a deal and it really does have less pry-ware.)

IDC predicts channel growth IDC

According to new research from IDC the next year will be a good one for the channel, which will outgrow the overall server, storage and networking markets in some specific industry sectors. The report, penned by IDC Director of Infrastructure Channels Research Paul Edwards, claims the channel will gradually pick up more of the total IT spend until it owns 61.1 percent of the market by 2018. The North American channel should expect to see a 2.7 percent CAGR key sectors, such as servers, storage and networking, which beats the 2.3 percent CAGR for the overall market. This translates into a $38.1 billion share of the market in 2018, up from $33.5 billion in 2013. The channel is expected to pick up $17.3 billion in Networking sales by 2018, up from $14.4 billion in 2013. While analysts predictions should always be taken with a healthy dose of sodium chloride, these predictions bear up under one critical measure. As we’ve seen in the Week that Was over the past few months, OEMs like Dell, HP, Cisco and Xerox have been redoubling their channel engagement with new partner programs and strategies. Clearly they expect a lot more of their revenues to be flowing in indirectly and are investing in engagement with partners with specific, and valuable, customer knowledge.

 

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Leading Small and Medium Business community creates Board of Advisors group offering designed to bring together like-minded business people with the common goal of leading successful IT practices.

Bainbridge Island, WA – September 26, 2014 – SMB Nation announced today that it has launched what is known as “Board of Advisors” program. As part of this initiative, the media integration company has established a new division to manage this program. The groups, which are designed to bring together like-minded MSPs and business people, with the common goal of leading successful IT business organizations, will be made up of solution provides, based on what solution providers want out of a group, and evolving with the groups respective  businesses grow and change.

Powered by IT and MSP consulting firm K2, SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be led by Ken Thoreson and Keith Lubner. Both are well-known thought leaders in the SMB channel, are industry veterans, having spent several years directing Acumen  Management Group and Channel Consulting Group. Both are well-published authors in Redmond Channel Partner magazine, Channel Pro and other respected journals.

SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be geared toward IT business professionals and MSPs who are looking to be part of an affinity group that will provide them with a holistic approach and outlook to furthering their respective business models. The Board of Advisor Groups are based with the idea in mind that they are willing to be open and honest, and share information about all aspects of their business.

“With Board of Advisor Groups we are working to accomplish three things, improve profitability, overall company growth, and improve the quality of life of owners and employees,” Thoreson said. “We are building the next generation of peer groups, which are not tied to antiquated management methods or driven by vendor agendas.”

According to Lubner, while SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be available to anyone in the SMB industry who is looking to share best practices with other like-minded individuals in their circle, he did add that the ideal candidate is an individual whose company has revenues between $500,000 to $2 million per year, has invested in a PSA infrastructure, and has at least one layer of management within their business. “These are the types of “emerging partner” companies that usually thrive in a Board-  environment,” he said.

As a member of SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups, IT professionals can expect to achieve the following:

  • Learn from the mistakes and successes of other IT service providers.
  • Set ambitious, achievable targets for your company.
  • Learn effective management/leadership methodologies.
  • Improve personal and professional life balance
  • Discover new ideas that have already been successfully implemented by others.
  • Improve the capacity of your sales, service and other managers.
  • Stay on the cutting edge of the latest IT industry trends.
  • Network with professionals in your industry.

Furthermore, to provide a true granular effect for each member, SMB Nation Board of Advisor Groups will be designated by three separate categories of like-minded individuals, as outlined below:
We are offering three distinct pathways:

 

*   Board of Advisors: Accelerate your Cloud and Mobility Practice

*   This is a 5 session, 4 month program

*   Board of Advisors:  Business Acceleration Program

*   This  Owners Board is a yearlong Program

*   Board of Advisors: Sales and Marketing Acceleration Program

*   This is a 10 Month program focused for sales and marketing teams

Contact SMB Nation for exact details of each Board, all programs will begin in 2014.

“This is not your grandfather’s Board of Advisors group,” said Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation. “What differentiates SMB Nation Board of Advisor  Groups from other groups like this in our industry is that we will be investing forward in focus areas such as Cloud, Office 365 so that it’s not overwhelming and cumbersome to you, the IT professional and MSP. We will focus on helping you to look at alternative ways to help you successfully run your business. And we’re open membership encourages participants from all walks of life and lifestyles.”

To learn more about SMB Nation Board of Advisors, and to have one of our representatives contact you with more information, go to www.SMBNation.com and select Contact Us.

About SMB Nation

SMB Nation is a community targeted at the small and medium business (SMB) channel partner/reseller/consulting/VAR community.  SMB Nation spreads the knowledge of SMB technology trends through its conferences, books, print magazine, online services, and worldwide seminars, workshops and accredited Pocket MBA certificate.  As an active participant in the technology community, SMB Nation has a long history of enthusiastic advocacy and evangelism. The SMB Nation tribe exceeds 40,000 followers worldwide. For more information, visit www.SMBNation.com, www.O365Nation.com and www.Telephonation.com. Follow us on Twitter @SMBNation, and join our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SMBNation.

For more information, contact:
Harry Brelsford
Founder and Chairman
SMB Nation
206-201-2944

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