​Top 15 Aussie tech storylines to follow in 2017

The New Year brings the usual new round of humdrum technology predictions, glaringly general, unashamedly safe and perpetually predictable. But while the industry no longer sees value in “cloud is now the norm” type projections, value can be found in following developments of the year previous, analysing behaviours and patterns to formulate a plan for the 12 months ahead. Consequently, here’s the top tech storylines to follow in Australia during 2017.

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    15 - Leadership turnover will accelerate With business and operational model changes comes new leadership. And the skills that got many leaders where they are today won’t cut it because they aren’t optimised to encourage customer obsession. In 2017, CIOs will see many of their business partners change as turnover rates for executives with P&L responsibilities increase up to 30 per cent or more. Similarly, many CIO/CMO partnerships that have been a big focus over the past few years will need to be rebuilt, as CMO turnover will also hover around 30 per cent.

  • 14 - As digital transformation pilot projects shift to scale, companies will demand consulting services Three factors will likely drive an increase in management consulting revenue in 2017. First, vendors’ investments in collaborative centres will expand client relationships and engagements. Second, as emerging technology and digital transformation adoption shifts from pilot projects to scale this will increase demand for operations, and organisation and change consulting. Lastly, ongoing global macroeconomic concerns will fuel global demand for consulting. Despite all consultancies’ investments in technology, operations management will continue to be the largest service line as greater opportunities exist for consultancies around the road-mapping, designing and managing components of engagements.

  • 13 - Warring distributors and vendors will continue to settle differences in court With DPSA and APC by Schneider Electric ceasing distributor partnerships, alongside Hemisphere Technologies and Kaspersky, 2016 will be remembered as the year when distributors and vendors settled differences in court. 2017 is expected to be no different with both cases yet to reach a conclusion, coupled with increased merger and acquisition activities triggering distribution reviews across the board.

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    12 - Ransomware will attack the cloud Given the significant shift towards cloud-based storage and services, the cloud is becoming a very lucrative target for attacks. The cloud is not protected by firewalls or more traditional security measures, so there will be a shift in where enterprises need to defend their data. Cloud attacks could result in multi-million dollar damages and loss of critical data, so the need to defend it will become even more crucial.

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    11 - Bruised Apple will come out all guns blazing “The very first thing Tim [Cook] did as CEO was convert Apple from a dynamic change-maker into a boring operations company.” The words of former Apple engineer, Bob Burrough, when slamming the direction of the world’s most valuable company. Sliding device sales and quarterly revenue declines aside however, Cupertino has faced strong criticism for its apparent lack of innovation, as outlined by a tepid response to its 2016 product line-up. Consequently, Apple needs to hit the ground running with a revamped iPhone, a slew of new products and perhaps, a deeper insight into its plans to develop a self-driving car. Added to the vendor’s growing enterprise footprint - following deals with Deloitte, Cisco, IBM and SAP - and 2017 will see the tech giant come out all guns blazing. Because, it now has no alternative but to fight back.

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    10 - Rise of artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning will create new markets Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning (ML) are composed of many technologies and techniques (e.g., deep learning, neural networks, natural-language processing [NLP]). The more advanced techniques move beyond traditional rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. This is what makes smart machines appear "intelligent." As a result, applied AI and advanced machine learning will give rise to a spectrum of intelligent implementations, including physical devices (robots, autonomous vehicles, consumer electronics) as well as apps and services (virtual personal assistants [VPAs], smart advisors). These implementations will be delivered as a new class of obviously intelligent apps and things as well as provide embedded intelligence for a wide range of mesh devices and existing software and service solutions.

  • 9 - ISVs will dominate the agenda As the curtain slowly came down on 2016, three letters best summarised a changing shift within the local market. I-S-V. While the independent software vendor isn’t a new-fangled term - rather a staple of the past - its role within the channel will heighten further in 2017, as vendors seek partners capable of building customised and specialised industry solutions in light of applications becoming the new currency of the enterprise. Underpinned by the increased value of apps, vendors are aligning with ISVs and developers to access new areas of the market, uncovering bolt holes of opportunity along the way. Billed as the shadow channel by many, the rising importance of the ISV brings new meaning to how traditional partners go-to-market, disrupting the linear supply chain of years gone by. Driven by cloud-first vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Salesforce and IBM, ISVs represent a broad, diverse and growing group of companies that are displaying influence across lines of business, irrespective of size of stature. But as the market finally appears to catch up and take a breath, forward-thinking vendors are now fighting to attract and retain ISV talent, providing a platform that fosters creativity and innovation.

  • 8 - Hewlett Packard Enterprise will hit back at Dell EMC Upon the closing of the world’s largest technology acquisition, as Dell took control of EMC, all eyes turned to Hewlett Packard Enterprise. With the warring vendors pursuing markedly different strategies, HPE is widely expected to issue a counter attack to the rising dominance of Dell EMC across core market segments. Demonstrated through its intention to acquire SimpliVity for $US650 million - expected to close during the second quarter of 2017 - the tech giant’s path forward will remain characterised by substantial competitive pressures.

  • 7 - The shadow channels will challenge tradition 2017 represents a defining year for the Australian technology industry, with the changing of the channel guard underway, driven by a leading group of upstarts. Billed as a shadow channel, these players are leaving the traditionalists behind, forging new futures through technological innovation and refreshed go-to-market strategies. According to one industry expert, the shadow channel is a “broad and diverse group” of companies from all backgrounds who engage, influence, recommend and even resell technology to lines of business. Spanning ISVs, consultants, born-in-the-cloud providers, start-ups and industry-based professional services firms, the shadow channels are growing in prominence across Australia, widening the competitive partner landscape as a result.

  • 6 - Telstra will play its Stephen Elop hand Hired in April 2016 to the surprise of many, Stephen Elop is slowly but surely making his mark at Telstra. Once touted as the next CEO of Microsoft, the former Nokia chief was cited as an “unusual choice” by the Sydney Morning Herald, and joined Telstra with a mixed reputation and history, dividing opinion on both sides of the Pacific. Fast forward to 2017 and the “serial tech exec” - as labelled by Fortune - is orchestrating change behind the scenes at the telco giant. Tasked with breathing new life into Telstra’s digitalisation blueprint, Elop is embarking on a product and services overhaul, streamlining portfolios and bolstering flagging networks. Yet with nearly a year already gone on his bumper contract, Telstra can ill afford any delays as shareholder and customer patience wanes, all but confirming 2017 as the year of sizeable change for the telco.

  • 5 - AWS vs. Microsoft will take on new meaning in cloud If 2015 was the year when cloud became mainstream, and 2016 was the year that cloud started to dominate many IT market segments, then 2017 will be the year when two tech giants fight it out on a global scale. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft streets ahead of the chasing pack, the battle for cloud supremacy will be fought across every major market in the world, underpinned by intelligent platforms. Alluding to the theory that only the smart survive, the leading pair are expected to increase investment around artificial intelligence and machine learning, billed as the key cloud battlegrounds in 2017.

  • 4 - Govt IT cock-ups will continue as if the norm First IBM and the failed census debacle, then Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the botched ATO outage. Despite both being billed as “one-offs”, the failure to stand-up government IT systems will forever define 2016 in Australia, as large vendors battled embarrassing public cock-ups. Although many senior figures have moved to play down the failures, 2017 promises to be more of the same as complex and costly contracts continue as if the norm.

  • 3 - Start-up birth rate will grow as Aussies go it alone Despite a dampening of enthusiasm surrounding New Year resolutions, the desire to instigate personal and professional change will refuse to go away as 2017 progresses. Much like 2016, this will play out in full during the next 12 months as directors and higher management see value in branching out and going it alone. Whether it be stepping aside from vendor, distribution or reseller organisations, the channel will see the birth rate of new businesses dramatically increase, triggered by industry experts trading corporate life for the start-up scene. Following the lead of Nuago - a born-in-the-cloud provider founded by five Datacom workers in mid-2016 - workers are waiting and watching for a gap in the market, with the industry ready to embrace new companies addressing niche needs.

  • 2 - Traditional tech giants will take a hit The year is barely a few weeks old and already, the traditional tech giants of the past are on life support. As Toshiba drowns amidst mounting levels of debt, while Samsung stares down the barrel of an even tougher 2017 and the industry scavenges off the Avaya and BlackBerry leftovers, reputations are being ruined left, right and centre. Why? Because traditional IT markets are contracting, new players are threatening the status quo and disloyal customers no longer care about logos. The change in dynamics means the one time dominant players now face an uphill battle to hang onto market share. At the top end of town, all eyes will be on whether Apple can mount a comeback, with industry observers also closely watching to see if the much-publicised turnarounds of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco, Intel, IBM and co bear fruition.

  • 1 - Non-tech industries will poach tech’s top performers First Maile Carnegie of Google to ANZ, then Gerard Florian of Dimension Data also to ANZ, and finally Pip Marlow of Microsoft to Suncorp. Three examples of high-profile - and high-ranking - executives being lured by the emerging technology industries such as fintech and insurtech. And this will not stop in the year ahead, as large finance and insurance organisations tap the brain power of technology’s leading experts to drive digital strategies across Australia. While job changes are rife in the local channel, the most common shoulder tap in 2017 will be from the sectors embracing seismic transformation agendas, adding weight to the theory that “every company is a technology company”.

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