CPI spoke to a range of resellers, system integrators and distrbutors from across Europe towards the end of last year.
We asked them to cast their eyes ahead to 2020, to highlight what they predict will be the top trend to influence their business throughout 2020.
1. ELKO CEO, Svens Dinsdorfs - Geopolitics' impact on supply
For the $1.34bn pan-European distributor ELKO, the matter of supply is top of mind for 2020.
"When looking at my priorities ahead, a lot depends as well on how the trade talks between United States and China will go.
"It could have a huge impact on vendors supplying a lot of stuff for us.
"If you look at the core, huge players in the market, and that now we actually don't know what will happen. It's still hanging in the air what will happen for the phones and tablets business."
2. Atea CEO, Steinar Sønsteby - Automation
Atea is the Nordics largest VAR, logging revenues of a $3.8bn (€3.41bn).
Its CEO Steinar Sønsteby told CPI that, particularly in his home region, the demand for automation is being driven by high local labour costs.
"What we see is a lot of focus on things that can that can automate things. So, you know, software robotics to automate is very, very high on the agenda and on the other side, analytics and AI to get more value out of the data or processes are also very, very high on the agenda.
"Of course you can say that these thing are high on everybody's agenda in Europe, but our experience is that they are a little higher on the agenda here [in the Nordics].
"And what are these things comes from the fact that we are living in the most expensive part of the world, you know, with salaries. Automating will have an even greater benefit in some parts of the world than others, and we are certainly in one of those parts."
3. OVHcloud CEO, Michel Paulin - Increased demand for data privacy
"I would say a very big one would be data privacy.
"People want the assurance that their data is private, and I would say from the enterprise level they want the technology to protect it, which is ethical.
"When we mention the multi hybrid cloud world, the fact that there is no one solution, you need the ability to customise and to choose solutions. So I do believe a key trend is customers seeking to have reversibility, to avoid vendor locking-syndrome.
Because, when you are locked in in one cloud provider, I know there are some customers which are very, very anxious, about the fact they don't have the capacity to really compete efficiently because they can't reduce the cost of their infrastructure."
4. Insight Italy MD, Pietro Marrazzo- Business model overhaul
"The demand from the market is led by the fact that have companies here [in southern Europe] where the main priorities today are to look at their business model. They are looking to new services, like artificial intelligence, to transform.
"And it is also true that it's clear to them that they need to assign the responsibility of certain tasks, like helpdesk or migration to a third party to help them transform strategically.
"In fact what we are seeing is AI and IoT is really growing in a very exponential way. And for us, 90 per cent of that is related to changes in business model that companies would like to apply in the future. Because in technology, of course, if we would like to change our business model, we need to prepare the infrastructure, the applications and the people. With the help of services like artificial intelligence and cognitive services we can really change the way we work. Companies want to be competitive here and in the global space."
5. Infradata CTO, Mohamed El Haddouchi - AI
Netherlands-based security and networking firm Infradata has been a strategic Juniper partner for fourteen years, selling across six EMEA countries and the US.
Its group CTO, Mohamed El Haddouchi, said he has mixed feelings about the way AI is marketed, but sees it as a critical trend for the coming years.
"To be honest, customers don't care about artificial intelligence and machine learning, that's all just technology for them.
"It's what you do with it. So, if you show them a solution that makes life easier for them, that's what they like. If we can go and explain what can we do with this [AI], and we can; we can better their experience of WiFi.
"And in every vertical, there is a way to position this technology to help them - whether it's healthcare or retail."
6. Proact CTO, Per Sedihn - AI
Proact is a SEK 3.32bn (€317.26m)-revenue Nordic systems integrator with over 1,000 staff across 14 countries in Europe and North America.
The firm has ambitions to hit ten per cent revenue growth for its next three consecutive financial years.
Founder and CTO Per Sedihn named AI has his key trend for 2020, but that part of the job at hand is defining what it means for each customer.
"AI can be anything you can imagine and that is part of the problem," he said.
"It could be as simple as a chat bot in your customer service or something else that drives efficiencies for the business. So, as a business leader, I think you have to figure out for your organisation and your market what it is, because everyone is talking about it but you need to find a use case for the business.
"For us we have customers that are finding efficiencies and value in this.
"But another issue I think that is going to be a concern for some local customers is: can people find the data they need to do the processing?
"I would really look into it for 2020."
7. Meridian IT UK MD, Steve Young - developing cloud services IP
Meridian IT is a platinum global partner with IBM, having resold IBM power flash storage for 20 years.
However it has diversified in recent years, particularly developing IBM's Cloud business.
UK MD Steve Young is clear that developing Meridian's own IP and cloud services is a trend that will be inescapable in "this world of software defined everything."
"One of our strategies on the infrastructure side, developing our own cloud activity
"It's a priority in this world of software defined everything. I'm just telling you what you already know; people's consumption is being pushed by the promises of subscription models, of turning things on tap.
"So, on that basis, a key trend for us has been developing the IBM Cloud business, and this will continue because a lot of customers are losing skills.
"A lot of people are retiring, but we've got skills coming in. What we say to them is we can put what you need on our cloud, we're running it for you, manage it for you and report back as to how we're doing it. You don't even have to worry about it anymore."
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