December 21, 2017
By Derek Handova
The top 2018 cloud trends will put an end to the time when a cloud vendor could launch a new product and secure market share because it was new—or there was simply no other option. Today, cloud companies must differentiate and add value—through technology, services, support or some combination of these.
In the end, all cloud vendors will have to come up with something counterintuitive to what has been thought all along in order to succeed over the long term. In 2018, emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and internet of things (IoT) will require closer scrutiny. Let’s take a look at some of these and related trends.
2018 Cloud Trends in Internet of Things (IoT)
As seen in 2017 and the year before, internet security can never be taken for granted. Technological attacks and social engineering continue to exploit computer systems and people alike. And now the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) has exploded the number of points to attack, according to experts.
“IoT offers compelling opportunities for attention-hungry hackers,” says Tim Prendergast, CEO, Evident.io, provider of cloud security and compliance solutions. “We will see more efforts aimed at all different types of devices. For brands dependent upon connectivity to the cloud, this could have a hugely negative impact on their brand. In some cases—autos, health devices—it could lead to dangerous personal situations.”
And as IoT cloud trends in 2018 expand, MSPs will need to successfully integrate solutions non-IoT, too. According to thought leaders, opportunities for hacking growth of IoT to legacy computing will need to be adaptable and resilient.
“While IoT is growing it also allows for connectivity with older machinery as well,” says Axel Schmidt, senior manager, TeamViewer, provider of remote desktop access and support. “In order for it to be effective it needs to be flexible and provide a bridge between users and the device so that users can be alerted as soon as any issues arise and help is enabled in real time.”
AI, Machine Learning Drives Analytics in 2018 Cloud Trends
Analytics have been with us for years. And as cloud computing has expanded, the 2018 cloud trends look to take analytics to the next level driven by artificial intelligence (AI). AI will draw upon structured data, unstructured data, multimedia data, streaming data and more to give us an evermore complete profile of the customer. For example, multi-structured analytics will combine these multiple types of varied data in terms of their type and frequency to create a historical baseline of customer behavior and how it can evolve in the future.
“This can be coupled with other techniques such as social data analytics from mining the customer’s social profile, voice analytics of the customer and cognitive intelligence-based user profiling and modeling-based insights,” says Dr. Jai Ganesh, vice president and head Mphasis NEXT Labs, which focuses on research and innovation on emergent and future paradigm related disruptive innovations. “For example, cognitive intelligence can enable insurance companies in analyzing contact center as well as chat data interactions in real time to predict propensity for fraud based on voice, video and text analysis and correlating the same with other similar fraudulent customer behaviors.”
But beyond the potential for reducing fraud with AI analysis of vocal stress patterns lies the opportunity to improve overall customer service with AI power in voice communications with service agents. What was a heretofore greenfield territory of customer insight, AI will now open up as a fully indexed, cross-tabulated compendium of user data.
“Not so long ago, the voice channel was an untapped source of information,” says Dennis Fois, COO and president, NewVoiceMedia, a cloud contact center provider. “You’d either have to listen in on the calls, or transcribe only a part of those conversations. Now, AI-augmented speech analytics technology is allowing businesses to effectively ‘listen’ to all conversations and transcribe those, as well as capture that intelligence and bring it back into the CRM system to combine with other information.”
More and more, systems will be able to advise sales and service agents in real-time about how they should handle a call based on what is being said at the moment, according to Fois. For example, if a customer mentions a competitor on a call, the system could pick that up and look up a battle card that can tell the agent what to say. “Those are key trends in the customer intelligence platform area,” Fois says.
Overall, the long-term objective is to build machine learning intelligent systems that learn based on historical pattern analysis of billions of user and machine data points and predict events, according to Ganesh. With such AI-driven multi-structured analytics, related 2018 cloud trends you can expect to see include:
Insights from multi-structured and multimedia datasets, digital footprints of customer interactions and customer intelligence across multiple channels, touchpoints and social networks
Predictive analytics for better planning, forecasting and decision support for cross-sell, upsell, retention, loyalty management, risk mitigation, fraud detection and campaign management
2018 Cloud Trends: Dedicated Instances for Security, Backup
Cloud startups and other agile companies will continue the pre-2018 cloud trends to migrate more workloads to virtual environments. But just dumping everything into AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud will not do in 2018. Alternatives will be sought for a variety of reasons.
“There was a time, not so long ago, where it seemed as if all the non-Big Three—Amazon, Google, Microsoft—clouds were on their last legs,” says Laz Vekiarides, CTO, ClearSky Data, provider of storage as a service and on-premises storage. “A lot of this has to do with the fact that in a multi-cloud world, the public cloud option you’d like to have isn’t always the option that’s available. With the technology currently out there, almost anyone can build a cloud that operates reasonably well. We’ll see an increase in offerings like bare metal clouds and developer clouds that offer targeted functionality at a low cost.”
This multi-cloud architecture trend will only become more predominate as 2018 wears on. The reasons not only have to do with money and development but also security and backup. Remember that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket?
“More specifically, they will split their production workloads across more than one public cloud. Why is this the case?” asks Issy Ben-Shaul, CEO, Velostrata, whose software enables cloud migration and workload mobility. “First, cloud wars will result in cost wars. If an enterprise can get significant cost reduction on infrastructure, this can mean millions of dollars in savings a year. Security and compliance is a final concern, as some industries—such as finance and healthcare—are mandated to have an alternative cloud to run on.”
In the case of security breaches in communication applications or where hackers have worked around protections like multi-factor authentication, enterprises want to make sure they can switch cloud providers as soon as possible. Or if outages or other issues that might affect a specific cloud occur, that they can seamlessly transition without the customer experience being affected.
Other Trends in MSP Cloud Offerings
There has been some discussion about cloud trends which will require that MSPs change how they do business in order to adapt to the new realities of the channel. For example, as resellers MSPs could have to become experts in specific areas. The days of the generalist channel provider may be a thing of the past. Experts feel bundling will become a must—and will demand new must-have skill sets from MSPs.
“MSPs must set themselves apart by becoming experts in bundling, by vertical or some other specialized customer segment,” says Daniel Saks, CEO and co-founder, AppDirect, a platform for selling, distributing and managing cloud-based products and services. “Bundling will require new skill sets that many MSPs don’t currently have.”
In conjunction, MSPs may want to offer cloud-native software and not some ported on-premises versions of traditional enterprise applications. And customers will need expert help from their MSPs to pick the correct solutions for their particular problems—the more specialized, the more acute the need.
“Customers of MSPs no longer want legacy software,” Saks says. “They want to use cloud-based solutions, but many find that their current options are underwhelming. In other cases, they may not be sure which application is best for their business and don’t know who to use. Customers will look to MSPs to become trusted advisers.”
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