As a managed services provider (MSP) or value-added reseller (VAR), you’re no doubt keenly aware of some of the hottest trends in IT today: the increasing popularity of social media, the growth of mobile technology in the enterprise, the rising emphasis on analytics and big data, and the continuing move to cloud services.
Each of these areas alone has the potential to have a huge impact on IT strategies at organizations. But these technologies don’t operate in a vacuum, and in fact some companies are beginning to look into the concept of creating SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) platforms.
While few vendors are yet offering such platforms, the idea is being talked about in IT circles and some forward-thinking CIOs are looking into SMAC strategies. Some of the large systems integrators and consulting firms are offering services in this area to help clients develop such strategies.
What’s more, IT research firms such as Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp. (IDC) both have been pushing the idea. Gartner calls the development the “Nexus of Forces,” while IDC is advancing the idea of a “3rd Platform” that is based on the four components of SMAC.
Clearly this is not an “off-in-the-future” concept. When you think about it, the combination of these IT elements into a single platform—or as the basis of an emerging technology architecture—should be attractive to organizations, particularly those that are already experiencing the benefits of these technology trends.
Enabling these four areas to work in conjunction can create new value for organizations, and some IT leaders are coming to the conclusion that the next generation of IT will center around the SMAC components as the foundational infrastructures.
So, what does this mean for your business?
Potentially, quite a bit. The emergence of SMAC as an IT strategy introduces a number of issues and challenges for companies, such as how they will develop business cases for these initiatives; what new skill sets they will need; and how they will manage and maintain this environment, including integration.
Then there are the potential security threats and vulnerabilities that SMAC might introduce or exacerbate. Each of the SMAC components has it own security issues. For example, mobile devices can be lost or stolen—along with the valuable corporate data they hold. Social media can present its own set of vulnerabilities, when employees post information that could jeopardize privacy and competitive intelligence.
With SMAC, the risks can be elevated because the data analytics element adds even more value to the information. With so much data converging from various sources and being analyzed via business intelligence, there’s no telling what risks a company can run if systems are compromised. In short, that stakes are much higher.
Channel partners can play a big role in helping customers address many of the challenges, particularly the security concerns. On a consulting level, you can help clients formulate a comprehensive security strategy and policy that covers the various elements of SMAC.
From the technology side, VARs and MSPs can help companies identify and deploy tools such as endpoint security, identity and access management and authentication systems and antivirus software. Since much of the SMAC-related data is likely to be accessed via mobile devices, having strong access controls from devices is essential for protecting corporate resources.
Each of the technologies of SMAC has the ability to provide a significant competitive advantage for companies. When these resources are used together in an integrated way, the possibilities are seemingly limitless.
But without the proper security provisions, the risks are high. MSPs and VARs can step in and fill what will surely be a growing demand for expertise in this area.
In a presentation about the next-generation channel company, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Tiffani Bova stated that to remain relevant, the IT channel needs to “bridge legacy offerings and new services based on new technologies, new delivery models and new architectures. New capabilities and approaches are required to help downstream channel capitalize on opportunities.”
Think it’s too early to plan to make a mark in SMAC, or whatever name it’s given?
Consider how social media has grown into a corporate asset for marketing and customer feedback, how much of an impact mobile devices and apps are having on the business environment, how data analytics is changing the way companies use information, and how much the cloud has become engrained in the IT environments of so many organizations.
All of this has happened over the past few years. As the saying goes, the future is now.