Irrespective of whether you’re a partner, vendor or distributor, here’s my top predictions for 2017 in the IT industry.
Cloudy with storms:
If 2016 was a tough year for you, then I have some bad news, 2017 is likely to be tougher still. If 2016 was a good year for you, I expect 2017 to be better still.
It all depends on what markets you’re serving and the solutions you’re offering but momentum matters and if you have it I suspect you’re on the right track and if not it’s likely you need to rethink your focus and adapt.
In a world of cloud and managed services building the kind of smart, automated back end systems and processes costs the same if you have 100 desktops and 10 servers under management or 10k desktops and racks of servers.
We have seen a lot of consolidation in 2016 and I don’t see the trend declining in 2017, including for vendors. I also expect to see a continued decline in the number of smaller resellers who will struggle to survive if they can’t or won’t adapt, presenting an additional credit risk for distributors.
Large deals are drying up:
Stop expecting seven-figure deals to keep dropping into your pipeline. Large, complicated projects will be the exception not the norm. Reset to be efficient at selling smaller (not necessarily small) deals that focus on long term customer relationships and sustainable annuity revenue streams.
In a world where everything is delivered as-a-service the brand of the technology building blocks is less prominent and the service provider brand is front and centre and vendors need to adapt and realise if they aren’t prioritising MSPs there may be no other customers left eventually.
Similarly, for service providers brand is becoming increasingly important and needs marketing focus moving forward.
Cloud is the platform:
The rate of development of smart services from the major cloud players is unprecedented. The most successful partners in 2017 will be those that are leveraging services like cognitive, bots, virtual assistants and artificial intelligence and building solutions for customers using these technologies. It’s the sprinkles on your cloud flavoured ice-cream.
It may feel like an overused term already but it’s real and the opportunity is huge for those that can help customers drive process automation and transform business functions. Train’s leaving the station - all aboard.
Inbound is the new outbound:
For as long as I can remember in IT, sales have ruled the roost and marketing has had to (by and large) play 2nd fiddle.
The reality is the number of sales people we require in the Industry will continue to decrease in a world where the buyer is already well informed (or can be at the click of a mouse) and finding and engaging customers by developing rich content and relevant insights will become even more important and for that you need highly skilled digitally savvy marketers.
IT remain important budget holders but LOB decision makers are the new battleground requiring a different sales and marketing approach that will need investment to capitalise on effectively.
Mark is an executive consultant with advisory and consulting organisation Tech Research Asia, where he focusses on working with established and emerging technology vendors across the Asia-Pacific region.