2017 Tech Sales Forecast: More Cloud, More Services, More Commitment

As we kick off 2017, we here at N3 are seeing certain trends we think will have a big impact on technology sales in the coming year. These aren’t predictions as much as explanations of where we believe the current Cloud journey and technology innovations are leading us. With that in mind, here’s our thoughts on the Top 3 Changes we anticipate for technology sales this year.

A Transformation in Cloud Usage

The Cloud story will continue to grow, albeit in new ways. In Cisco’s 2015 Global Cloud Index Forecast, they predicted that by 2020, 92% of workloads will be processed by Cloud datacenters. That’s a huge figure that tells us a lot about Cloud adoption. But there’s another figure even more telling that comes courtesy of IDC’s 2017 forecast. According to that report, by 2020 more than 70% of B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) leaders will choose a strategic Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)/Platform as a Service (PaaS) mega-platform partner, eliminating or drastically lowering their own data centers.

Mega-platforms warrant a discussion unto themselves. I want to focus more on the fact that these studies see us gravitating from Cloud adoption to Cloud consumption. Currently, when we position the Cloud, we tend to talk about value in terms of agility, scalability, cost savings, and accessibility. We also discuss backup and disaster recovery not to mention security. The Cloud succeeds in all of the above. But these are reasons to use the Cloud, not what to do once you’re in it.

I believe this year you will see that when it comes to the Cloud, companies will go from sticking a few toes in the pool to diving into the deep end. They won’t upgrade their hardware and software as much as transition more to SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. You can also add Disaster Recovery as a Service (DraaS) to the mix. They will turn to managed services as well, so their IT can focus on business growth opportunities. Most everything that isn’t offered as a service will be within the coming years. This will drive consumption way up in anticipation, both within individual categories and across the board for businesses.

We no longer associate “if” with the Cloud as much as where and how much. For tech sales then, the goal will be to ensure customers maintain the services they have and add the ones they don’t. In all instances, tech companies will still need to frame their wares around value, meaning listening to what the customer is saying and applying a valuable solution to resolve it. But the story and elevator pitch must change. There will be a major opportunity here for tech companies — and those that get out ahead of the consumption story and frame that conversation around value will gain significant advantage in the marketplace. Value is delivered by knowing your customer’s business, helping them address the problems they need to solve and offering insight driven solutions.

Artificial Intelligence + Machine Learning Hit the Big Time

When discussing the virtues of the Cloud, people tend to focus on storage and accessibility. In both areas, the Cloud definitely has had a major impact. Consider that we now create enough new data every year to equal the amount of all previous years combined. Storing that information, however, would be unaffordable without the Cloud. Accessing that information would be severely restricted as well.

But the Cloud affords us all of these luxuries and more. By establishing such an immense foundation of accessible knowledge, in 2017 we will take the next natural step in the Cloud’s evolution: leveraging all that information to generate value through major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Think of such technology as a limitless brain, capable of learning from terabytes of information all at once and in real-time.

There’s an immediacy to such analysis, but even more important, it changes the very dynamic of analysis itself. Whereas traditional analytics looks at data in the rearview mirror, machine learning looks forward so you can drive towards a goal. You ask intelligent questions, gain insight, and then take action based on the feedback you receive. Machine learning will become crucial to succeeding in a competitive technology marketplace and developing innovative products and services.

It’s already having an impact on fraud detection, preventative care, safe transportation, proactive maintenance, and so on. Such potential, to make the world safer, healthier, and more efficient is what will continue to drive many in the field.

Machine learning will also drive the next wave of the Internet of Things (IoT). In order for a thermostat to know the temperatures you prefer and at what times, or driverless cars to get you safely to your destination, machine learning will need to act very quickly on any information received.

For tech sellers this means two things. First, there is a rapidly growing IoT segment to address. As the speed of technology development increases, technology providers will need to ensure they are keeping pace – both in terms of the solutions they provide and how they get them into the market. In many cases, internal sales teams will need outside expertise to help them address the scale, speed, and knowledge gap of selling these innovative solutions.

Second, this new world of data collection and analysis means the continued adoption and use of data-driven tools. These tools, used for everything from lead aggregation, targeting messages and predicting buying patterns, will continue to evolve, making the sales cycle faster and more accurate.

Cloud Security Turns to IoT

Forecasters predict we could have anywhere from 20 to 200 billion connected devices by 2020. Either of these numbers would be impressive. There’s a catch however. These devices could be as much a detriment to progress as they are a boon, if not regulated and secured more so than today. The whole privacy-by-design and built-in security movements we are seeing are based on striving to be proactive and preventative as opposed to reactive.
Imagine for a second, someone taking over control of your driverless car. In certain instances, hackers have used devices, including baby monitors, as access points to penetrate networks and grab personal information. Hackers for example, gained access to the Target system through a third party air-conditioning company. That sounds like the plot from a Mission Impossible movie.

In 2015, the FTC made a list of security recommendations to IoT companies led by the following:

  • Building security into devices at the outset
  • Adding measures to keep unauthorized users from accessing devices and personal information
  • Monitoring connected devices throughout their expected life cycle

In regards to all of the above and more, 2017 will see more and more strides in IoT security, enabling companies to optimize their understanding from the information they gather. Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions, for example, have been designed to help businesses manage, control and audit network access, denying unrecognized devices. User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), a fairly new security category for products that helps quickly identify malicious and abusive behavior that would previously go unnoticed, will continue to grow. Other areas you will see advancements in will include:

  • Visibility and discovery tools that provide insight into interactions across users, devices, Cloud apps and Cloud data
  • Data control resources that protect corporate data from user mistakes
  • Evolving threat protection capabilities that identify cybersecurity attackers before they cause damage

For tech sellers, as IoT becomes ingrained in the next wave of innovative technology, they will need to add security into their elevator value pitch. At the core of such discussions will be how IoT safely opens doors, not how it works. Anyone can read online for a crash course on such subject matter.

Here at N3, we help businesses discover new channels for Cloud sales and new methods to succeed. We will continue to monitor Cloud sales as they unfold, sharing our findings with you as we discover them.

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About the Author

Jeff Laue

Jeff has more than 25 years’ experience in management, business process transformation, and sales and marketing strategy development and implementation. As CEO and co-founder of N3, Jeff sets the course for the company’s vision and strategy for ensuring revenue impact for clients. See full profile

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