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2017 in review: Top stories highlight IT industry trends

Before embarking on a new year of reporting on IT industry trends in the channel, we wanted to take a moment to review some of our 2017 coverage that struck a chord with readers. Not surprisingly, stories about some of the industry’s most recognizable vendors received attention. The majority of these stories focused on vendors engaged in self-reinventions as they strive to remain dominant in the modern IT landscape. Other popular stories deal with digital transformation — a trend that every vendor and partner had to grapple with to some degree last year.

Revisit some the highlights that made 2017 an important year for channel partners:

Facebook makes channel strides

We saw Facebook last year wade deeper into the enterprise space with Facebook Workplace, its collaboration platform. Although still in its early stages, Facebook Workplace scored some significant customer wins (i.e. Walmart) and attracted interest from channel firms. Facebook has been busily expanding its channel ecosystem while the tool gains traction, as this update by senior site editor John Moore demonstrated. In a feature article about Facebook’s channel strategy, contributor Paul Korzeniowski underscored some of Facebook’s main challenges for courting enterprise decision makers.

Microsoft reveals shifts in partner strategy

Microsoft’s ambitions in the digital transformation marketplace led the company to alter some of the ways it sells with partners last year. Reporting from Microsoft’s 2017 Inspire event, John Moore described the changes that Microsoft unveiled to conference attendees, including a new consumption-based compensation scheme for its field sales. Partners responded positively to Microsoft’s moves, noting that Microsoft aligned more tightly with its digital transformation vision and partners alike. Review our Inspire conference guide for additional insight into how Microsoft strengthened its partner ties in 2017.

Vendor grapple with disruptive trends

There is no denying that top IT vendors are amid striking reinventions of their organizations. Our 360 Guide published last year sought to capture these transformations in a series of comprehensive vendor portraits. We looked at the major industry trends they are contending with, including cloud computing, shifts in consumption patterns, and the emergence of AI, big data and other newfangled technologies, to shed light on their changing focuses and partner engagement strategies. Review our guide to learn about how IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Citrix are trying to retain market dominance.

Dell EMC debuts a unified partner program

After Dell grabbed headlines with its dramatic acquisition of EMC, the post-merger Dell EMC company faced the difficult task of integrating their legacy channel communities. Partners eagerly awaited details about a new unified partner program, which Dell EMC executives said would have “the best of the best” elements of their past channel offerings. In this article published in February, I covered the integrated program’s rollout and Dell EMC’s thinking behind the program’s design. Our 2017 coverage of Dell EMC also included the vendor’s ramping up its focus on the midrange storage market and renewal of its alliance with distributor Ingram Micro.

Getting to know digital consulting firms

Digital transformation emerged as one of the most important IT industry trends in 2017. In this feature article, we discuss how digital transformation has paved the way for a growing category of nontraditional channel firms. While they describe themselves under various labels, such as “digital consulting firm” or “digital solution integrator,” the common thread tying these companies together is helping customers with their digital transformation initiatives and strategies. These companies also stand at odds with traditional partner models in some ways.

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