2017 channel predictions: What came true and what’s in store for 2018

CompTIA made some key predictions last year; a year later, some of those predictions have eventuated while others are on a longer trajectory. There are six trends worth keeping an eye on:

1. Tools of the cloud era emerge

With companies steadily adopting public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions, it’s no surprise that more tools are emerging. Blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are receiving a lot of attention now, and this is set to continue. However, the attention is likely to shift from heralding these new technologies as the next big thing towards bridging the gap between their potential and actual implementation.

This is illustrated by US President Trump’s signing of a US$700 billion military spending bill that includes a mandate for blockchain security research, putting significant emphasis on blockchain as a technology of the future as well as reports that the ASX is likely to be the first major exchange in the world to introduce blockchain technology for clearing and settlement functions.

2. Security gets worse before it gets better

This prediction is true and will continue to intensify. When breaches occurred in the past, they sparked short-term interest in security before people reverted to old habits. However, with the government’s mandatory Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) scheme coming into effect on 22 February 2018, businesses are likely to take a more sustained interest in security. With cybercriminals hitting new levels of sophistication, security efforts must be equally sophisticated to keep up. Cybercriminals are using business models that closely resemble vendors’ business models, even down to the offer of support. This means their attacks are more likely to succeed, which will jolt companies into ramping up their security to try and stay ahead of cybercriminals.

3. New faces in the channel test traditional go-to-market approaches

The Australian channel continues to see significant disruption from all kinds of different businesses from digital agencies to independent software vendors (ISVs). And there’s a new type of reseller: non-traditional channel businesses are reselling software. For example, accounting firms are becoming resellers of accounting software. The channel will therefore continue to grow.

4. An ageing channel community hastens the need to find new blood

CompTIA’s prediction was that the channel should be teeming with new blood due to the rising proportion of millennials in the workforce but this hasn’t yet happened. In fact, young people are joining the industry in channel businesses, but they don’t see themselves as part of the channel because they don’t fully understand it. As we move into 2018, it’s not that the channel needs to find new young people but that it needs to help these new businesses recognise their role in the channel, and understand how the channel can accelerate their go-to-market strategies.

5. The blended workforce takes on new meaning

In the past, a blended workforce meant a mix of fulltime workers and contractors. Now, it can be anything from fulltime and part-time workers, contractors, and things that aren’t people, such as bots and AI or virtual assistants. Furthermore, the rise of employment matchmaking platforms helps connect employers and workers in the gig economy, making it easier for workers to be flexible. This will continue as new uses for AI become apparent.

6. Debate intensifies over technology’s impact on employment

On the one hand there is a fear that new technology and automation will take jobs away from humans. On the other hand, there is a hope that automation will simply remove the mundane, burdensome jobs, freeing up humans to do work that is more rewarding and creative. This debate isn’t likely to be settled soon, since both sides are probably true to some extent. Since the industrial revolution, humans have adjusted to new work paradigms and the future is likely to hold more of the same, albeit at an increased pace. With that in mind, it will become incumbent on the education system to prepare young people for knowledge-based work instead of providing technical skills.

With the rate of change continuing to increase and new technologies poised to change the way we work, 2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year in the channel.

Moheb Moses is ANZ community director, CompTIA, and director, Channel Dynamics; Karen Drewitt, is chair, CompTIA executive council, and general manager, The Missing Link.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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