EDGE 2021 will now run as an in-person event on 20-23 March 2022, operating as the leading technology conference for business leaders in Australia, built on the foundations of collaboration, education and advancement.
Located at Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort, ARN remains as determined as the community to host this market-leading event in a face-to-face format, with the decision to reschedule coming in response to evolving COVID-19 developments at both state and national levels.
“Aligned to market sentiment, our primary intention is to ensure EDGE 2021 runs in full form, recognising the value of face-to-face interaction among executive delegates,” said Cherry Yumul, vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation at IDG.
“We remain fully committed to the preparation and delivery of an in-person conference but understand all precautionary actions must be taken and believe a proactive approach is required to ensure minimal disruption to our attendees and sponsors.”
Attendance at EDGE 2021 on Sunshine Coast is by invitation only, limited to decision-makers shaping the technology landscape across Australia.
Such high calibre of attendance is the catalyst for a four-day destination event designed to provide business coaching at an executive-level, targeting seasoned leaders to aspiring entrepreneurs.
The market is saturated with conventional conferences following traditional rules of engagement, delivering predictable insights with no actionable takeaways or outcomes. In an industry fixated on the why, EDGE focuses on the how, offering step-by-step guidance around technology monetisation, business growth and customer acquisition.
To build on current preparations, EDGE 2021 will officially launch in October as a six-month editorial-led digital program, culminating in the in-person event on Sunshine Coast in March.
Central to this pre-event execution will be a streamlined virtual experience on 25 November -- Pulse Check by EDGE -- designed to provide a concise interim market update in relation to customer investment plans and priorities.
EDGE 2021 on Sunshine Coast
Specific to Sunshine Coast, plans are now underway shaping an editorial narrative built around the theme of Commercialising Hype -- offering step-by-step guidance on revised customer priorities, new areas of opportunity and how partners can realistically transition from recovery to growth mode.
This will be underpinned by EDGE Research, housing in-depth end-user and partner analysis across Australia, uniquely delivered in partnership with Tech Research Asia.
Following nine months of planning -- shaped by industry feedback and consultation -- EDGE 2021 will play host to the most influential business leaders in technology, reflective of a diverse, innovative and expanding channel ecosystem.
As the world becomes more collaborative, so is the network of providers delivering transformational solutions to customers. Different technology buyers are requiring different technology partners, challenging the market status quo in the process.
Mirroring the market, EDGE brings together emerging and established technology players, spanning bleeding edge start-ups and cloud specialists to independent software vendors and application developers. This is complemented with business consultants and boutique agencies, alongside solution providers and system integrators -- all collaborating, all contributing.
EDGE creates a unique environment in which extreme partner types can join forces in the pursuit of innovation, acting as the conduit for customer transformation since first launching in 2015.
Converting nascent technologies into mainstream offerings represents a challenging art for an ecosystem forever sandwiched between the concepts of theory and practice.
Seduced by vendor driven marketing campaigns on the one hand, yet sobered by end-user hesitancy and the need for education on the other, technology providers continue to balance a conveyor belt of new solutions with the commercial reality of limited investment and resources.
Whether automation or edge computing, 5G or Kubernetes, the dilemma facing profit chasing partners post-pandemic is akin to the age-old adage; if you build it, will they come?
Moving forward, a clear distinction is required between what is cutting-edge and what is commercially viable, shaped by the creation of a strategy built on the foundations of in-depth skills, expert practices and speed to market.
Echoing the words of Albert Einstein -- “in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not” --EDGE will move beyond market rhetoric to outline how partners can monetise and productise emerging technologies to drive future growth, translating perceived demand into dollars.
Specifically, EDGE will help partners identify viable emerging technologies and solutions post-pandemic, alongside documenting how to build and productise offerings to drive new revenue streams. This is in addition to guidance on developing in-house skills to maximise evolving market opportunities and constructing go-to-market campaigns to monetise new product and service offerings.
In short, EDGE will create a step-by-step guides to help the ecosystem excel in business, technology, sales and marketing.
From JobKeeper to growth
According to Mark Iles -- executive analyst of Tech Research Asia -- the fundamental question facing partners post-pandemic is simple, yet the answer will dictate strategic priorities in the months ahead.
“Who battened down the hatches and who seized the moment?” he asked. “Who left the business as is and is now just emerging facing the task of transformation? And who took the opportunity and what next?”
In summarising the past 18 months across the Australian channel, Iles acknowledged that despite the early pain, most technology providers commendably weathered the COVID-19 storm -- some sections of the ecosystem actually classified 2020, and subsequently 2021, as a year of growth rather than grit.
“JobKeeper naturally propped up a few partner P&Ls but most survived reasonably well,” he noted. “But as we start to reposition and think about 2022, which partners have stopped and started to reorientate the business to be more forward-thinking.”
First launched in late March 2020, JobKeeper was rolled out to provide a wage subsidy to approximately six million Australian workers impacted by the pandemic -- who received a flat payment of $1500 per fortnight -- before officially ending on 28 March 2021.
“Most partners generally battened down the hatches during COVID-19,” Iles noted. “There was a lot of consideration regarding what partners were going to do but not many translated into significant investments.
“That was primarily due to the timeline of those opportunities which are expected to surface in late 2021 and early 2022 -- naturally partners did not want to over-invest at that point.”
“Whoever has skills, wins”
Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, a silver lining arrived in the form of a re-skilling surge with partners maximising the chance to reallocate employees and re-skill into more strategic areas of technology focus.
“Whoever has the skills, wins,” Iles advised. “This could be the phrase for EDGE 2021 because if you have the skills and service offerings then you will be ahead of the pack -- unless your market and sales execution is terrible, of course.
“New skills are difficult to find and partners capable of wrapping up such skills into incredibly tight service offerings -- which are aligned to the market -- will be extremely successful in 2022 and beyond. But naturally we also saw partners taking JobKeeper money which now creates the challenge of not wanting to let those skills leave the business.”
In a sobering message for the ecosystem, Iles cautioned that partners are currently “hanging onto talent” and with the skills crunch coming at an unrelenting pace, the battle for in-house expertise in such a highly competitive market is “going to get worse”.
“Partners were reluctant to actually cut too far into the organisation even when demand slumped and revenue weakened in terms of growth,” he added.
“The market was determined to try and keep employees and re-skill into new areas which represented a tricky balancing act for most partners. The alternative was to let staff go and rehire again later -- perhaps even within nine months -- which is expensive.”
Armed with fresh research and data points at EDGE 2021, Iles and an executive line-up of speakers will help partners answer key questions in relation to pragmatically up-skilling for future growth.
“How do you keep people? How do you find people? How do you invest in new services? How do you afford any of that and get the economics right?” asked Iles, emphasising the importance of making market bets with a strong degree of confidence that return on investment will exist.
Creating ‘Transformation Envy’ among customers
In switching approach to documenting customer priorities in the months ahead, Iles observed an element of ‘Transformation Envy’ among the corridors of end-user power in Australia.
“There’s almost a competitive tension occurring between boardrooms,” he said. “Why haven’t we done that? Why are we still answering the phone to our customers via an 02 number? Why aren’t we utilising technology better?
“This type of industry peer pressure is a direct result of COVID-19 and represents opportunity for partners to take a lead role in outlining what great looks like for businesses across Australia.”
With new EDGE Research findings set to be delivered on Sunshine Coast, Iles’ sixth market sense remains bullish on the opportunity ahead, triggered by a continued customer push in the direction of cloud, applications (plus the wider application stack), containers and security.
“We’re facing the classic challenge for partners -- opportunity is everywhere but where do you commit?” Iles qualified. “Opportunity in cloud? Absolutely. Public and private cloud? Sure thing. What about storage-as-a-service? Definitely. Throw in resiliency and back-up also.
“The problem is, too many opportunities exist. As we approach 2022, what do new service offerings look like? Is now the time to build out and skill up?”
Putting the portfolio conversation to one side, Iles also cautioned that irrespective of technology specialisation, product development lifecycle expertise will be a defining factor in the future success of the Australian ecosystem.
“We all know that the process and timeframe of putting together a solution needs to come down,” he explained. “The market used to think in terms of 12-18 months in that partners would hire people, recruit a head of that particular offering or service and let them build a team over time.
“Then the plan would be to do some skilling, perhaps then talk to the key vendors to run some joint planning sessions plus certification and training programs. That process needs to be significantly time crunched.”
A natural progression of this conversation, according to Iles, is how partners become increasingly agile in relation to the service options developed and delivered to the market.
“Where do you put your chips on the table?” he questioned. “Depending on which type of partner you are, where should you be putting those chips? How do you think about doing that and how can you develop a service offering alongside that at speed? These key questions will be answered at EDGE 2021."
To enquire about attending or sponsoring EDGE 2021, click here