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Riding the Curve of Innovation in a Technology Revolution

By Nancy Ridge:

Temperatures in the low 50’s, steadily falling rain and a stiff breeze didn’t deter a healthy group of digital leaders from showing up at the annual IDC Conference in Silicon Valley this year. Senior Analyst, Frank Gens congratulated the crowd of mostly CIO’s and CTO’s for their hardiness and commitment to receiving the message of “Multiplied Innovation: Scaling a Technology Revolution”. As he launched into his comprehensive, on-point assessment of what we can expect in the next 5 years, I felt the lightness and excitement in the room overtake the grey outdoors to create an atmosphere of possibility that would fuel the day into overdrive for the next 8 hours.

Since 2014, we’ve witnessed massive changes in technology and how it’s used, who is buying it, and what’s driving innovation. Cloud, social, mobility, and anywhere access have driven transformation across every segment of business, government, education, non-profits and consumers. Organizations are beginning to embrace technologies like SD-WAN, UCaaS, and big data analytics to enable them to remain competitive and relevant. AWS and Azure have brought cloud to the masses and established themselves as the dominant platforms for digital transformation. Whole new eco-systems of service providers have sprung up in response to the changing needs of both the enterprise and SMB’s.

From my vantage point, the next phase of this “technology revolution” will allow me to support my clients in their new digital world; the reality that on-going innovation will become the “new normal”. More than ever, I am inspired to help them choose the right partners.

A few of the tastiest tidbits I took from a packed day that barely scratched the surface of what was being presented, included:

- Edge computing is the future of distributed networks and IoT. The big public cloud players like AWS, Amazon, and Microsoft need to get to the Edge quickly…in factories, banks, schools, retail stores…everywhere. This is where the next generation of technologies like blockchain, IoT, and AI will find distribution that will move the most important stacks from the core data center to the end user. Solving the latency problem is the driver and companies who can deliver the technology to the Edge in a cost-effective manner that gives customers visibility and control will be leaders in this massive shift. IDC predicts 65% of operations will be at the Edge by 2022.

- Business outcomes are what matter. As I continue to seek to align myself with all the stakeholders in my customers’ organizations, choosing the right platform partners while focusing on scale, expansion, and new technologies will demonstrate recognition of the many problems they must solve to meet increasing compliance requirements, respond to greater security and privacy threats and remain competitive.

I will continue to effectively deliver all forms of access, especially 5G as it becomes available. A distributed, secure network that can respond to customer needs quickly will be critical.

- Focusing on seamless delivery that is easy to deploy, consume and manage will be a key driver as well as maintaining and expanding my eco-system of providers for flexible IT consumption and purchasing models. This eco-system will address both the mega platform providers as well as emerging tier 2 and MSP’s who can better serve the SMB.

- AI, and IoT will be critical. IDT predicts the top digital transformational use cases for AI will be: Customer Service, Threat/Fraud Analysis, Sales Recommendation & Automation, and Diagnostics & Treatment in HC. My objective will be to ask and answer the right questions, to be bold and to align with the things customers care about and will care about, creating processes that allow them to establish new KPI’s as they commit to their digital direction and set about executing it…always paying close attention to choosing the right partners along the way.

- A parting observation is that the gap I get to fill as trusted advisor is more critical than ever. Hiring and retaining the specialized talent needed in today’s enterprise is not getting easier or more cost effective so managed services will play a more significant role. IDT shared that 70% of organizations are having trouble sourcing skills. Management of discrete environments such as apps, infrastructure, network services and cloud services will be necessary. Helping customers adapt their cultures to embrace outsourcing and managed services will require sensitivity, empathy and a commitment to making positive change for valued employees while being agile enough to meet the dynamic needs of the organization.

Continuing to build relationships and actively collaborate with my partners who are positioning themselves to play their part in this “technology revolution” will be the key to success. To quote Frank Gens, “It is time for everyone who wants to be a part of this exciting, innovative revolution to step away from where we’ve been and get ready for the ride up the curve, it’ll be great.” Let’s go!

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