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Vertical Alignment: The Key to Staying Relevant

April 24, 2017 - Article

Eddie Franklin

**Editor's Note: Distributor Report is a recurring column featuring thought leadership from IT and cloud distributors. We're looking for insights into evolving business models in this new era of distribution, product and technical service offerings, education and training, marketing/branding, credit and a myriad of other services.**

By Eddie Franklin

Understanding trends in a vertical market is the difference between being disrupted and being one who ushers in innovation. We’ve seen our partners make great strides when they decide to drill down and invest in specific verticals. Although fast-changing technology is impacting every industry, the reality is that very few problems are universal, especially when it comes to IT. That means your ability as a technology provider to solve problems for a specific set of customers can make you more relevant, enable you to turn disruptive forces into opportunities, and make you a true collaborator with your customers.

The public sector is ripe with opportunities as technology begins to dominate compliance with rules and regulations. Here is a brief look at some verticals where we’ve found that alignment can not only help sustain business today but can be expected to maintain your growth and relevance into the future.

The federal government can be an evergreen source for business, and now is a good time to tackle that complex system. Continual changes in rules and regulations open new opportunities every year. For example, we tracked a U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) rule that finally went into effect last year, making mentor-protégé programs for small businesses more versatile. It helps the underfunded small business partner – the protégé – leverage the mentor’s financial strength to pursue small business set-asides while the mentor gains access to small business set aside opportunities. These changes in joint venturing can lead to meaningful partnerships that provide best-in-class solutions to federal government agencies.

The new administration is signaling that we’ll see a leaner government, which means skilled contractors should find opportunities to step in and fill the gaps. Some of these new collaborations will pave the way for small businesses to help develop innovative solutions. When that happens, your project and program management skills are even more relevant. Rather than fearing change, companies aligned within the federal vertical will be aware when contraction periods are coming, and understand the solutions needed right away and down the road.

Expect to see investment growth in public safety and first response. We noticed this trend a few years ago, and launched a public-safety practice in response to this increased funding. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and other intelligence agencies are also receiving funds to ramp up technology. A host of products and solutions are needed from resellers and MSPs like you.

And don’t just think in terms of federal government — state and local opportunities abound as well. Consider 800,000 ...

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