As we come back to reality and check our bank accounts, I want to look back at the 2016 Channel Partners Conference this past week in Las Vegas. With all the past conferences that have taken place, what stood out this year? One thing you couldn’t help but notice was the plethora of basketball goals. Yep, just about every exhibitor played off of the March Madness theme. You even had a chance to watch Dennis Rodman do what he did… worst – shoot free throws. It would have made more sense to watch him get his own rebound. But look at me, falling into Madness trap; I digress.

There seemed to be a whole lot of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT). There are endless opportunities around IoT, but it is paired with a whole lot of uncertainty. Eric Hanselman of 451 Research said during his keynote at ScanSource’s 1COMM event, “The key is to monetize the data you are receiving. How do I build a service around the data I gather?” In other words, it isn’t the technology that is lacking, it’s the demand. And it is up to the partner to show a customer the need for the data they can provide. These custom solutions will be bundled with software, with sensors, cameras, or other asset tracking hardware as well as bandwidth. This makes the carrier vendors happy. But one issue has been the compression of data these sensors are transmitting. With 5G right around the corner, which by the way is said to be 40 times faster than 4G, now is the time to figure out how to reduce the amount of data being transmitted, but still gather that same information.

Changing gears to the actual conference expo. If you walked the show floor for any amount of time, you probably noticed all of hosted phone system/hosted PBX providers exhibiting. This came as no surprise. According to Investor’s Business Daily, cloud-based communication systems account for roughly 5% of the business communications market. On-premise phone systems comprise the rest. Even the largest player in this field is only projected to reach $365 million in 2016. So you see, there is plenty of room for competition to step in and take a share of the market. Traditional on-premise PBX providers are combating that with their own hosted platform whether it’s acquired or home-grown. As businesses become more and more open to cloud solutions, this will certainly be one to watch in the upcoming years.

Hopefully you had a chance to stop by the ScanSource VIP Lounge. This gave attendees the opportunity to take in some refreshments, charge their devices, and catch up on emails. This was a little different from the normal booth ScanSource has at this event. Which makes sense, because ScanSource presents an offer that is a little different from other Masters or Distributors. ScanSource is known as a technology provider of hardware and services, and we just announced our addition of CloudSolutions to our portfolio making ScanSource a true one-stop-shop for all of your solution needs.

So, if you were lucky enough to not lose all your money at the tables during your free time, 2016 Channel Partners was certainly one to remember. It is definitely exciting to see how the market shifts year after year, and I certainly look forward to next year’s event.

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