The IT sector, like many other markets, has continued to operate in a climate of uncertainty throughout 2017 due to ongoing political and economic turbulence. With post-Brexit Britain still unclear, businesses remain vigilant, cautious and careful with their decisions, and this shapes many of the predicted trends for 2018. New initiatives will be launched from a stable cost base. This is according to Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director of Brother UK, who has released his expected trends for the channel in 2018.
Finding certainty in uncertainty
In 2017, the desire by CIOs to deliver consistent and stable IT performance increased by 21 per cent on the year before, and I expect this will continue to increase even more in 2018. Business leaders are looking for consistency, certainty and stability and my prediction is that this mindset will fuel further demand for services and solutions from reliable partners as businesses of all sizes take reassurance from the visibility, control and support they can offer.
A need to rapidly adapt
Failures of major resellers in 2017 demonstrates how merciless the sector currently is in terms of its pace. Our customers’ worlds are changing and, as a result, they are seeking partners to deliver services which provide control, increase efficiency and boost productivity. As both vendors and partners, we need to make sure our business model and skills are equipped to deal with that requirement and speed. With so much uncertainty continuing into 2018, the IT sector will need to ensure their business model and teams are equipped for continuous evolution. For those partners that are yet to begin the journey to becoming a services provider, 2018 is the year to start as the clock is ticking.
Return of ‘cold tech’ as firms demand ROI
The economic climate has resulted in more sophisticated buying from decision makers, as they look to reduce costs and maximise value. As this behaviour rolls over into 2018, it may spark the return of ‘cold tech’. This trend first started in the early 2000s, where there was a demand for technology that quickly provides a return on investment (ROI), within the same financial year, delivering immediate savings to the bottom line. Tailored managed print services are an excellent example of this. They mean a printer fleet can be updated to the latest models with all the latest productivity gains like high speed output with lower click prices vs. transactional purchase.
A string of high-profile cyber security scandals has brought security to the forefront of IT decision makers and business leaders in 2017. With potential security breaches leaving so much at stake, this will remain a high priority for organisations as we move into the new year. Not only will the IT industry look to protect itself, but customers will choose partners and solutions that have business security at their core. Resellers will be expected to detail the levels of security offered by all the product portfolios and, in some cases, warrant them.
Growth of smart AI investment to enhance business efficiency
For some, AI becoming a genuinely mainstream feature in businesses seems to be a far-fetched concept. However, we need to redefine what we think of as artificial intelligence.AI is already being utilised by businesses in the form of automated software, which machines learn. We’ve already seen a proliferation of this in customer support and audit environments. As the technology continues to mature and become more sophisticated, more processes will become automated and it is smart investments in this type of AI that can deliver real results for businesses in 2018.As an industry, we’ll move away from thinking of AI as a sci-fi concept and instead as a tool to help our businesses operate more efficiently and productively.