As IT solution providers settle into the new year, they need to navigate the wave of change that is gripping the IT channel and the tech industry in general. As new technologies gain traction, a shift in selling and business models will be necessary for providers to be successful
If solution providers have avoided cloud-based solutions so far, they will likely soon find they no longer can do so - especially if they are in managed services.
As AppDirect president and co-CEO Daniel Saks recently told our sister title CPI: "Customers of MSPs no longer want legacy software. They want to use cloud-based solutions, but many find that their current options are underwhelming. In other cases, they might not be sure which application is best for their business and don't know who to use."
Customers are pushing providers to embrace the cloud, and it won't be long before they start demanding other technologies that keep showing up in headlines, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing. Here are six trends IT solution providers need to pay attention to in the next 12 months:
1. Emerging technologies
Talk is turning to action when it comes to emerging tech such as AI, IoT and edge computing. Early adopters are seeing the benefits of these technologies and spurring on others to follow in their footsteps. IT solution providers therefore need to develop a strategy for these technologies. They don't have to adopt all of them, but it would be a smart move to decide which ones to invest in and start doing the research to discover what new resources they will need.
2. Cloud do or die
It's "do or die" time for making cloud decisions. Cloud has become an integral component of most corporate IT strategies, and increasingly companies are adopting multiple-cloud strategies. Enterprises need help in making decisions on which workloads to move to the cloud or keep in-house, and in managing their cloud investments to realise the benefits of cost savings, increased scalability and agility, and an improved customer experience.
3. On the edge
Edge computing will gain traction this year as companies embark on IoT projects. Retail, banking and healthcare are likely to lead the way. Solution providers will be called on to help design and secure edge sites and to manage them post-implementation. For providers, the edge is the gateway to IoT as organisations look to run cloud applications as close to the action as possible to avoid latency and facilitate real-time decisions.
4. Security challenge
Security will remain a major challenge for companies in 2018 and beyond. Employers are finding that hiring cybersecurity workers isn't easy because of a critical shortage of talent. The shortage is getting more acute, with 1.8 million vacancies expected in 2022. If they can't hire security staff, customers will turn to IT solution providers to fill the gap. As such, growing their security practice is one of the best investments a provider can make in 2018.
5. IT talent shortage
It gets tougher and tougher to fill tech vacancies. Talent is especially scarce in emerging areas such as IoT and AI, in addition to cybersecurity. Staffing for new opportunities, therefore, won't be easy. However, solution providers can get a leg up by maintaining a file of CVs, even when not actively looking to fill a position, as well as partnering with local universities and industry associations and investing in training and certifications for new hires and veteran workers.
6. Tech vs nature
Mother Nature has become more erratic, with storms and natural disasters increasing in intensity and damage. As a result, "safety" technologies such as data backup and recovery, security and power supply management are more important than ever. Companies need protections such as redundant backups and power management solutions to get them through power outages caused by natural disasters. IT solution providers should have ongoing discussions with customers about these needs to develop strategies to provide Certainty in a Connected World and business continuity plans.
IT solution providers have their work cut out for them in 2018, as they feel the pressure to adopt new technologies and models. Understanding, and acting on, these trends will help ease the pressure and prepare them for the future. To help keep abreast of these predictions, APC provides various resources on local edge, best practices for managed services, and other tools and resources to help deliver Certainty in a Connected World.