Avnet, which offers everything from components to cloud computing systems to asset disposal, is hosting its third annual Solutions Partner Summit this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., providing solution providers and vendors alike with a window into what the company has planned for the remainder of the year and beyond.

Taking center stage at the event, which has attracted 500 or so attendees from suppliers, solutions provider organizations and more, are specializations, startups and security. For insights, I turned to Gavin Miller, vice president, marketing and strategy, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.

“Long gone are the days when you can make it as a generalist,” says Miller. “Partners and suppliers have to think differently about how to go to market.”

Gavin Miller, Avnet

To help partners adjust to new market realities, Miller said Avnet (NYSE: AVT) has made steep investments into training and enablement services designed to help partners develop specializations around third-platform technologies, which market researcher IDC says are mobilized, cloud-based services that leverage social media, big data and more.

In addition to specializations, startups and security are also high atop the company’s agenda this week. Hoping to tap into the creative energies and innovative thinking of young entrepreneurs, Avnet on Monday announced an investment into Hackster.io, which is an online community that “helps users globally learn how to design, create and program Internet-connected hardware,” according to the company. Come January, Avnet expects to complete the acquisition of the company, which owns the MakerSource resource directory that helps start-ups to design, develop and find resources for taking products to market.

Then there’s security, which Miller personally thinks will be a big play for partners and customers alike come next year. This is especially true as organizations push deeper into the world of the Internet of Things, which has raised security concerns to new levels.

Like many, Miller believes few IT professionals have thought through all of the ramifications of attaching sensors, devices and things to the industrial and consumer Internet. He, for example, recently counted the number of devices attached to his home router. Prior to identifying each, he figured he had maybe a dozen or so things connected. But it turned out he had more than 50. And that tally didn’t include devices such as PCs, mobile phones or computer workstations.

“I have wireless speakers that are connected in every room, different thermostats, light switches, wireless TV set-top boxes, etc.,” he says. “I count 50 things connected to my network before I wake up and get 'me' connected. As more of these things become connected, there’s obviously much more of a threat of breaches.”

Despite his concerns, he is very optimistic that the IoT will greatly expand opportunities for channel companies. This includes increasing the size of existing lines of business and opening new markets such as the home automation sector.

Security will obviously underpin any IoT play, which is why Avnet is gearing up for a major security announcement come Tuesday. Stay tuned.