Strategic Technology Trends for 2018: An MSP Perscpective

Each year Gartner, a leading research and advisory firm, curates the top ten strategic technology trends for the coming year. The research firm defines ‘strategic’ as technologies that have the potential to have a disruptive effect over the next five years. CIOs and other tech decision makers should asses these trends and identify any opportunities they can utilize. MSP’s are presented with a double opportunity. Not only can they leverage strategic trends internally to streamline their business processes, but having a solid understanding of how to implement and exploit the trends allows them to improve their services. For 2018, the main point of focus was the growing interest in intelligent services, the need for a secure set of connections between services, data and technology, or a mesh, and how digital information has become the cornerstone of real world connections. Below are Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2018 and how they can impact your MSP.

Act Now Strategic Trends

These are trends that have an immediate impact to the enterprise landscape and MSP’s have to adopt them in order to maintain a competitive edge

1. AI Foundation

The growth of the AI space cannot be ignored, Gartner highlights the maturation of machine learning based on the copious amount of data, new algorithms and the ability to quickly process it. AI is already being used to reinvent business models, enhance decision making, and reshape the customer experience.

AI and machine learning is reshaping enterprise software; whether its cyder-security tools to detect malware and other security threats, or specialized industry applications to meet compliance and regulation requirements, or conversational Uis to improve customer services. For managed service providers (MSPs), expertise in AI driven tools will prove to be extremely useful in 2018. The role of machine learning in data protection and privacy will also become apparent in the automatic discovery, classification, monitoring and protection of sensitive data which can span personally identifiable information (PII). AI is already having, and will continue to have significant implications for every enterprise, that is why MSP’s must act now or risk falling behind.

2. Intelligent Analytics and Apps

Aside from dedicated AI assistants, AI included packaged applications like SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) analytics or Salesforce’s Einstein are beginning to take root. However, machine-learning and AI based systems need experts to run them. MSPs and Value Added Resellers (VARs) are best positioned to train intelligent apps to perform specific functions. Gartner also highlights augmented analytics which leverages machine learning to automate insight sharing, data preparation and insight discovery. By banking on machine-learning algorithms to prognosticate negative outcomes before they transpire, organizations can avoid loss of revenue as they scale and build their services.

3. Intelligent Things

As the growth of IoT devices continue to reach more facets of the enterprise, machine-learning and AI will enable these things to autonomously or semi-autonomously operate. Gartner predicts two models, swarm intelligence – where different intelligent things work together to achieve a collective goal, and an Air Force model – where machines will not only talk to each other, but with people as well. A major factor behind the growth of IoT is the secure, flexible and agile cloud.

Some analysts suggest that there will be close to 25 billion Internet-enabled things by 2020; with more and more organizations investing and basing their business models on smart technology, it is likely to become a staple requirement for enterprise who wish to compete in a modern market. A managed service model presents the opportunity to offer a solution that ensures your client’s success by providing integration expertise and support. As more enterprises adopt smart devices, they not only have to ensure they run efficiently but that they are also managed and closely monitored.

4. Cloud to the Edge

The concept of edge computing stems from the belief that some devices, like mobile devices or PCs, run on the ‘edge’, while other things remain centralized, like in a cloud. Edge computing creates a point of intersection of IoT devices and the cloud; with edge computing being utilized as a delivery system enabling distributed or disconnected processes execution. As autonomous devices and machines approach maturation, the need for real-time processing of large amounts of data will certainly grow. In order to reduce concerns over bandwidth costs, latency and potential cyber threats, enterprises will embrace edge design patterns within their infrastructure architectures.

Edge computing creates an opportunity for MSPs. The tiny data centers that will begin to appear at the edge of client networks will need management and monitoring. Business are likely to turn to MSPs to handle the maintenance and monitoring. MSP will need to step up to support, secure and manage edge data centers.

5. Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Approach (CARTA)

Security is a crucial part of the digital business equation. Tech decision makers have to adopt a continuous adaptive trust and risk assessment approach to facilitate real-time, trust and risk based decision making with adaptive responses. With attacks getting increasingly sophisticated and frequent, traditional approaches to security will simply not cut it. MSPs should not only adopt CARTA internally but also position themselves to provide expert support in matters concerning security. Business will require services to implement and subsequently monitor adaptive security measures that shield their IT ecosystem from threats. MSP’s that can fill the skill gap by providing the data science, physical security automation and ubiquitous identity management skills required to support an adaptive security approach will be the top consideration.

Strategic Trends To Watch

These are are five potentially disruptive trends that MSP’s have to keep a close eye on. Having knowledge of their workings will definitely prove beneficial to service providers.

6. Digital Twin

Simply put, a digital twin is the digital representation of a real world system or entity. They have the power to drastically enhance enterprise decision making. You can think of a digital twin as a bridge between a digital world and the physical one. It is created by first integrating smart components that collect real-time data using sensors with a physical item. The components are connected to a cloud-based system that receives then processes all the data being gathered by the sensors. The input is finally analyzed against business and various contextual data. Digital twins have the potential to drive business growth through observation, operation and optimization. An obvious MSP use case for a digital twin would be to mimic how varying integrations will affect the IT environment of a client. It can also be used internally to chart growth.

7. Conversational Platforms

Conversation platforms typify a paradigm shift in how people interact with the digital world. Instead of people adjusting to the technology, technology will adjust to the people. A conversational platform can take a question or a command from a user then respond by executing a function, asking for additional input or presenting some content. While MSPs will not necessarily role out these systems to clients, they will certainly discover it in the tools they use to remotely monitor firewalls, servers, switches or routers from a central location.

8. Immersive Experience

Mixed reality (MR) ,augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are transforming the way people interact with, and perceive the digital world. VR and AR are creating new opportunities to transform the enterprise, especially in the areas of collaboration and communication, simulation and training, and customer services. Gartner predicts that the AR and VR market will generate $75 billion in revenue and that associated devices will exceed 35 million, by the year 2020. Perhaps we are looking at a future where MSPs can remotely inspect client’s peripherals, hardware and more.

9. Blockchain

Blockchain has evolved from a digital currency infrastructure into a digital transformation platform. Initially focused on financial services, blockchains have multiple applications including supply chain, title registry, identity verification, media distribution, manufacturing, health-care and government. Managed services providers (MSPs) can gain from blockchain by using it to store data, manage contracts, handle payments and much more. However, blockchain is destined for much more in the enterprise, and as the proliferation of enterprise-grade blockchain solutions such as Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) continues, business will seek experts to guide and help them implement them.

10. Event-Driven

The ideal at the heart of digital business is the notion that the business is constantly seeking and ready to exploit new digital business events. Anything that is noted digitally can be considered a business event, for example, the completion of a purchase order. The enterprise is increasingly adopting event driven systems, as opposed to traditional programming requests. Gartner advices enterprises to embrace ‘event thinking’, considering the fact that by 2020, event sourced, situational awareness will be a mandatory characteristic for 80 percent of digital business. At its core an MSP is a business, and an event driven model is a sure-fire way to boost revenue growth.