To say that 2017 was a year of disruption is an understatement. There’s no sign that things will be any different in the year ahead, and partners can help position their clients for success by parsing year-end predictions to identify what will matter most in the year and years to come.
Here are five predictions that partners must pay attention to:
1. A digital transformation crisis is coming
With more than 60% of company executives saying they are behind in their digital transformation, Forrester predicts a digital transformation crisis in 2018. That’s a problem, notes Forrester, because digital transformation is not “elective surgery.” Rather, notes the firm, it’s necessary for meeting customer and market demand, delivering individualized experiences at scale and operating at the “speed of the market.” Partners must help clients understand the investment that digital transformation requires and the return they can expect on that investment—now and over time.
2. Prepare for the age of the ‘versatilist’ Partners and their clients alike need to prepare for an age of versatility, notes Gartner. By 2021, the firm states, “40% of IT staff will be “versatilists” holding multiple roles, most of which will be business- rather than technology-related.” Companies will need to assess employees’ skill sets in different ways, with the goal of determining who has skills that cross these disciplines and how those skills align with strategic goals. Companies may need to provide more or different training, as well as rethink their recruitment and hiring processes. Partners are well-positioned to help clients make these determinations. Partners and vendors should also serve as sources for training.
3. It’s a matter of trust
Trust will be one of the biggest challenges companies face in the new year, according to Ajeet Singh, the founder and CEO of analytics firm ThoughtSpot, in Inc. magazine. With security debacle after security debacle this year, individuals and organizations will be on edge and wary. Partners must work with their clients to establish—and communicate—air-tight security in an increasingly dynamic business and IT environment. “If your users don't trust your tech,” notes Singh, “it doesn't matter how cool or transformative it is. It's dead in the water."
4. The customer must always be right
Customers have high expectations, and many companies are not meeting them, according to Forrester. According to the firm’s 2017 CX Index, customer experience (CX) quality has actually plateaued or declined for most industries and companies. Forrester attributes this to companies tackling low-hanging fruit and not making meaningful change. In the new year, notes Forrester, 30% of
companies will see further declines in CX performance. Partners should work with clients to ensure that they aren’t part of this crowd. Notably, this will require deeper thinking about mobile. For example, it’s no longer enough to simply have an app available; rather, companies need to provide a secure digital workspace for their customers (internal and external) that evolves to meet changing needs.
5. Cloud is now a must-have
There can be no more hedging about the cloud. In 2018, notes Forrester, we'll cross the significant 50% adoption milestone, with cloud applications, platforms, and services radically changing the way enterprises compete for customers. Indeed, companies must leverage the cloud or be left behind. This doesn’t mean going all in on the public cloud. In fact, most companies will go some hybrid route. But extending the IT infrastructure to the public cloud when and where it makes sense will create efficiencies and agility that companies just can’t afford not to have. Partners should work with clients to determine the best cloud path.
As we prepare to ring in 2018, partners should be preparing their clients for all that the year promises to offer.