By Mark Davison – What are the technology innovations that analysts and resellers think will top the charts in 2024? We asked some of the local channel’s senior executives their opinion on what technologies to look out for – and how the channel can take advantage of these.

Pierre Spies, CEO of Alviva, says that while the market is still extremely competitive, there are a number of areas that resellers should be looking at to diversify their businesses.

“There are a few key areas where resellers can capitalise this year,” Spies says. “Firstly, cloud. Hybrid cloud and migration services continue to grow apace and is still one of the biggest growth opportunities for the channel.

“Next on my list would be cybersecurity,” he continues. “We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of cyber attacks and these are increasing exponentially. Yes, cybersecurity skills are expensive, but for those prepared to invest in them this sector will remain an opportunity for many years.

“AI … AI … and AI,” Spies adds. “Most companies are still trying to grasp what AI is all about, but it will definitely transform the way we do business going forward. My advice to the channel would be to start by driving efficiencies using automation. There are various RPA (robotic process automation) tools available, but there are not enough companies skilling up and offering these services to the market.

“Finally, I’d have to include the Internet of Things (IoT),” he says. “This, along with remote monitoring and remote management is a sector still very much in its infancy, but has so much potential and offers the channel a huge opportunity.”

The market is tough, Spies says, but there are still a number of opportunities for the channel to diversify and grow their business.

As we navigate through the challenging economic landscape, political uncertainties, and shifting market dynamics, it’s imperative for channel resellers in South Africa to adapt and strategise effectively to thrive in 2024, says Mark Lu, CEO of Corex.

“The transformation of online sales is fundamentally reshaping the traditional reseller and retailer market,” Lu explains. “Embracing digitalisation and expanding your online presence is no longer a choice but a necessity. Investing in robust e-commerce platforms, leveraging social media channels, and exploring digital marketing strategies are essential steps to reach a broader audience and remain competitive in the digital age.

“Moreover, amidst weak demand and economic strains, it’s crucial to recognise that technology is evolving into commodities, making profitability solely on product sales increasingly challenging,” he says. “The new norm is centered around service and support. Emphasising value-added services alongside product offerings will not only differentiate your business, but also foster customer loyalty and recurring revenue streams.

“Furthermore, identifying and capitalising on emerging technologies such as AI, 5G, and IoT – and their applications across various verticals – will be key to sustaining prosperity,” Lu adds. “I highly recommend resellers to explore different value-added activities in these domains to stay ahead of the curve and ensure long-term viability.

“In essence, by embracing digital transformation, prioritising service and support, and seizing opportunities in emerging technologies, channel resellers can navigate the complexities of the current landscape and position themselves for success in 2024 and beyond,” Lu says.

Tim Humphreys-Davies, CEO of Pinnacle, says several key emerging technology trends are shaping the landscape of innovation – with a focus on AI, sustainable technology, and cyber resilience taking centre stage.

“Artificial Intelligence continues to evolve and permeate various industries driving efficiency, automation, and intelligent decision-making,” Humphreys-Davies says. “The integration of advanced machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and computer vision technologies allows businesses to harness the power of data for enhanced insights, improved customer experiences, and streamlined operations.

Humphreys-Davies says that as global concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability intensify, there is a growing emphasis on integrating green practices into technological advancements.

“Sustainable technology focuses on developing solutions that minimise environmental impact, reduce carbon footprints, and promote energy efficiency,” he says. “From eco-friendly manufacturing processes to renewable energy integration, businesses are recognising the importance of incorporating sustainability into their operations.”

And, along with most of his peers, Humphreys-Davies, says that cybersecurity – or cyber resilience – will be top of mind for most organisations in 2024.

“With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberthreats, cyber resilience has become a critical component of organisational strategies,” he says. “Businesses are investing in robust cybersecurity measures to protect against evolving cyberthreats, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their data. This involves implementing advanced threat detection systems, encryption technologies, and proactive incident response plans to safeguard against potential cyber-attacks.

“All of these trends are interconnected, with AI playing a pivotal role in enhancing both sustainable technology and cyber resilience,” Humphreys-Davies adds. “AI algorithms can optimise energy consumption, improve predictive maintenance in sustainable technologies, and bolster cybersecurity by identifying and mitigating potential threats in realtime.

“As organisations strive for innovation and competitiveness the convergence of AI, sustainable technology, and cyber resilience is key to creating a technologically advanced and socially responsible future,” Humphreys-Davies says.

Hein Engelbrecht, CEO of Mustek, says the company is currently focusing on several key trends and shifts in the market – and resellers in the channel should follow suit.

Engelbrecht lists the following as major priorities for Mustek in 2024:

Digital Transformation: “We are embracing digital technologies to streamline our operations, enhance customer experiences, and improve efficiency across the supply chain,” Engelbrecht says.

E-commerce Integration: “Recognising the growing importance of e-commerce platforms and investing in strategies to seamlessly integrate our distribution processes with online marketplaces,” he says.

Data Analytics: “Leveraging big data and analytics to gain valuable insights into consumer behaviour, market trends, and operational efficiencies, enabling us to make more informed decisions and drive growth.”

Supply Chain Automation: “Implementing automation technologies such as robotics and AI-driven systems to optimise inventory management, warehousing, and logistics operations – ultimately reducing costs and improving speed and accuracy,” Engelbrecht explains.

Sustainability Initiatives: We are embracing environmentally-friendly practices and technologies – such as renewable energy solutions for our facilities – to minimise our ecological footprint and meet evolving consumer expectations,” he adds.

Cybersecurity: “At Mustek, we are strengthening our cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive data and protect against evolving cyberthreats, ensuring the integrity and security of our digital infrastructure,” Engelbrecht continues.

Collaboration with Tech Partners: “We continue to establish strategic partnerships with technology vendors and startups to stay abreast of emerging innovations and access cutting-edge solutions that can enhance our competitive advantage,” he says.

Engelbrecht says that the industry is driven by three factors: Storage; compute; and bandwidth.

“Storage we have solved and, as they say, it is now cheap as chips,” Engelbrecht says. “And computing power is no longer a limiting factor – the rise of AI is thanks to storage and compute being what it is today.

“Bandwidth, though, is still the limiting factor –  5G, 5.5G, 6G is making it faster and faster, but latency is the challenge,” he says. “An example I like to give is If you have a robotic arm that has a latency of 20ms and the cloud has a latency of 50ms, your robot is not going to work. You are going to have to move the cloud to the edge – this is the number one driver for AI at the edge and why the PC will always remain relevant.

“The scope of technology moving forward is going to be endless,” Engelbrecht says. “Resellers need to figure out where their skills are and how and what to bring to market.”

Craig Brunsden, CEO of Axiz, has a word of caution when it comes to the frenzy around certain trends overwhelming the industry in 2024.

“I think and fear we are heading into a or cloud-era hype cycle where, all of a sudden, everything is blurred by AI,” Brunsden warns. “The key issue for VAD’s and VAR’s is: How can the channel make a reasonable return on effort from these trends? Trends are one thing, trends for the channel to focus on as a potential business return are quite another.”

Having said that, Brunsden goes on to list cybersecurity at the top of his list of trends.

“The demand and opportunity to serve it is only increasing,” he says. “Even the most competent cybersecurity resellers are stretched to serve the demand. The advent of AI used by bad actors will only increase the risks to customers and increase this demand. It is a difficult entry, but customers buy from partners they trust and I would argue the investment case is worth it.”

Modernising the datacentre is another key trend the channel should be aware of. “No matter what the specific application, for example, on premise versus cloud or private hosted cloud versus hyperscaler, big data management, turning existing data into usable business reporting, there are significant services opportunities for partners to participate in,” Brunsden says. “We are only seeing this escalate, but not always to the advantage of the channel. If we as a channel cannot demonstrate competence or value to vendors, they will push more of this direct. We have to focus here, if not for short-term gain, then certainly long-term survival.”

Brunsden also urges the channel to focus on basic economics, despite the lure of some new technology coming to market.

“Focus on basic economics to help customers get better returns on existing technology investments,” he explains. “We often overlook this one in favour of clever tech or skills and forget that most customers still haven’t spent on technology that they should have since the end of the pandemic.

“It seems as if we aren’t exactly sure what our tech priorities are and resellers who are willing to assist customers with the basics can still do well,” he adds. “Think laptop refresh for old kit causing user downtime, BI reporting on existing systems, or clever finance proposals to reduce multi-year licence costs.”

Last on Brunsden’s list, but by no means least, is the technology on everyone’s lips – AI.

“AI cannot be ignored,” Brunsden admits. “But we all need to figure out how to turn the hype into customer value – and how we can make a business return on that. This is one for 2025, I think, despite the hysteria in silicon vendor land.”

Again, like his peers, Gary Pickford, MD of Tarsus Distribution, singles out cybersecurity as a key trend for 2024.

“Cybersecurity software will continue to be a significant growth segment for us and the sector is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 14%,” Pickford says. “We are also seeing a significant increase in demand for identity security software.

“In the traditional notebook and PC business we expect one in five PCs shipped later this year to be AI-capable, incorporating a dedicated chipset or block such as an NPU, to run on-device AI workloads,” Pickford continues. “This adoption will ramp up quickly thereafter, especially in the commercial sector where the benefits of on-device AI related to productivity, security, and cost management will become a key consideration for businesses.

“This should lead to a significant increase in demand for notebook and PC upgrades across the commercial segment,” he adds. “Combine this with the Microsoft Windows 11 operating system upgrade and I think a lot of corporates will be upgrading their PCs and notebooks towards the end of the year.”

Another area for growth that Pickford identifies is in hyperconverged infrastructure.

“It is projected that the global converged infrastructure market will reach a global value of around $358-billion by the year 3035, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 31% between 2023 and 3035,” he says. “In the midmarket segment we are seeing demand from our resellers for hybrid compute capabilities that offer both on premise infrastructure and cloud solutions holistically.

“Last but not least, we have seen a significant increase in demand for modern corporate printers to replace the old devices that haven’t been upgraded,” Pickford says. “The modern, more hybrid work environment has prompted this growth.”

Werner Herbst, MD of First Distribution, says there are three main trends that the channel should be aware of this year. Once again, AI is at the top of the list.

“AI and automation are going to be interesting to watch,” Hebst says. “With continued advancements in this sector, businesses will increasingly rely on these technologies to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance decision-making.

I would list Everything as a Service (XaaS) as another key trend in 2024,” he contintues. “The shift towards XaaS models, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), will continue to accelerate. Businesses will increasingly prefer subscription-based models for accessing technology resources, leading to greater flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.”

And again, cybersecurity is front of Herbst’s mind.

“As cyberthreats continue to evolve, cybersecurity will remain a top priority for businesses,” he says. “Technologies such as AI-driven security solutions, zero-trust architecture, and secure remote access will be in high demand.”

To take advantage of these trends, Herbst says, local resellers should:

Stay Educated: “Keep up to date with the latest advancements and trends in AI, XaaS, and cybersecurity,” he says. “Attend conferences, webinars, and training sessions to stay informed.”

Diversify Offerings: “Expand product and service offerings to include AI-powered solutions, XaaS offerings, and cybersecurity solutions,” Herbst says. “This will cater to the evolving needs of customers.”

Partner with Tech Providers: “Collaborate with technology providers to access cutting-edge products and services,” he advises. “Establishing partnerships with AI, XaaS, and cybersecurity vendors will enable resellers to offer comprehensive solutions to their customers.”

Focus on Customer Education: “Many businesses may not fully understand the potential benefits of AI, XaaS, and cybersecurity,” Herbst explains. “Provide educational resources, case studies, and demonstrations to help customers understand how these technologies can improve their operations and security posture.”

Adapt Sales and Marketing Strategies: “Tailor sales and marketing strategies to highlight the value proposition of AI, XaaS, and cybersecurity solutions. Emphasise factors such as increased efficiency, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and enhanced security,” he says.

“By staying ahead of these technology trends and aligning their strategies accordingly, resellers can position themselves as trusted advisors to their customers and capitalise on emerging opportunities in the market,” Herbst says.


These are the technologies resellers tell us are making a splash in 2024

As always as South African businesses plan their spend for the new financial year, the technologies they can expect to feature in their budgets is the million-dollar question.

Last year, for instance, generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) came from nowhere in 2022 to dominate boardroom discussion in 2023 – but it’s by no means the only trends that reseller partners need to get their arms around in 2024.

In November 2023, we asked Channelwise readers what technologies and trends were important to them and their customers, to find out what they believe are important focus areas for the short- and medium-term.

  • 5G-Enabled Technologies/6G – 82% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Edge Computing, including Internet of Things (IoT) – 80% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Artificial Intelligence – 81% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Machine Learning – 76% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Sustainability Solutions (ESG) – 75% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) – 68% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) – 65% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • Datafication/Blockchain – 61% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025
  • 3D Printing – 59% working with it now, or planning to by the end of 2025