Yet EDGE Research suggests that such sentiment doesn’t translate to Australian or Kiwi shores.
On the other hand, local case studies are available as a source of encouragement for partners building IoT solutions and services capabilities, chiefly through the work of MOQdigital with Laing O’Rourke.
The Sydney-based provider developed a ‘smart hardhat’, based around a sweatband sensor array and data collection unit which can be retrofitted to an existing hardhat.
Specifically, the solution monitors the temperature and heart-rate of the wearer, plus the external temperature and humidity, eliminating Laing O’Rourke to eliminate workplace accidents, potentially saving the lives of their 6,000 employees.
Such innovation won MOQdigital the 2016 Microsoft Country Partner of the Year award for Australia, as well as making the finals for the Microsoft Worldwide Internet of Things award.
Consequently, pockets of potential remain for partners around IoT, but for those seeking new market opportunities, greater value can be found in building capabilities around automation, digital transformation and AI/machine learning technologies.
With digital transformation strategies now central to the future success of businesses nationwide, executives are bringing IT-related changes back to the boardroom table.
Following years of speculation, and as outlined by Iles, IT leaders now consider digitalisation as a reality in 2017, with many challenged to instigate both internal and external strategies to succeed.
Similar to cloud, digital-first policies are beginning to take shape throughout A/NZ, with one-time customer ambitions turning into actions.
From a channel standpoint, 45 per cent of partners are ready and selling digital transformation - in whatever form that takes - to customers, with 23 per cent progressing through the discussion and development stage.
Furthermore, 18 per cent of partners expect to be in market within 12 months, while two per cent cite 24 months as a realistic timeframe to build core digital capabilities.
Currently, only 13 per cent of the local industry classify digital transformation as either irrelevant or not a top priority, illustrating the value the channel is placing on being at the forefront of change.
“If you want to be relevant in the future you need to understand this and be able to articulate what it is you do that relates to this,” Iles advised. “But keep it real too — I’ve seen too many examples already of bandwagon jumping — repositioning basic IT solutions as “digital transformation” to try and be relevant.
“If you want to be relevant then be relevant and don’t forget it’s ok to position yourselves as digital enablers.
“There’s value in helping customers build the digital readiness capabilities and building blocks to be transformational and choosing to partner where you don’t have skills.”
Because despite customers acknowledging the benefits of pursuing a digital-first agenda, success metrics are scarce, criteria remains complex and external advice and guidance is required.
In short, and to echo Iles’ comments and EDGE Research findings, businesses are underprepared, creating new demand for channel partners as strategies screech to a halt.
Today, organisations of all sizes remain challenged by the process of replacing legacy networks and dedicated service platforms with a coherent digital environment.
Within this new environment, businesses are becoming blocked in the quest to create flexible and cost- effective systems, systems that are capable of delivering changes rapidly and dynamically.
For partners, most A/NZ organisations claim to have a digital strategy in place, but have so far failed to advance past preliminary stages of development.
Underpinning digital transformations plans is cloud, viewed by many as the foundation for staying relevant in a fast-paced world.
Despite cloud migration ranking top in terms of customer priorities today, businesses across A/NZ currently have over 50 per cent of IT workloads on-premise still, indicating that hybrid is the environment of choice for end-users.
According to one surveyed government CIO surveyed, “whilst there’s a mandate for moving apps to the cloud, the reality is that it’s difficult to act on the mantra — there is a distinct lack of expertise inside organisations about how to use and move to cloud, we lack experience and internal skills capabilities.”
Similar to digital transformation, the onus is now on partners to deliver on the potential of cloud, through migrating workloads quickly, efficiently and securely.
But while the direction of travel is clear, customers moving to the cloud en masse creates a new challenge for partners in the future, chiefly around the levelling of the playing field.
According to another surveyed Australian-based CIO, “it’s no longer about being in the cloud but how to best
use it. There is a need to look to other areas, especially cloud applications to achieve competitive differentiation.”
Consequently, and in assessing future technology opportunities, Iles concluded that for partners to profit from digital and cloud, development capabilities must be created.
According to the CIO of a national retail group, “we’ve fully adopted a cloud-first app policy. It’s open source and we’re moving as many apps to the cloud as quickly as possible. We have about 1,300 known apps but my guess is the real number is closer to 2,000.”
As a result, in 2017 and beyond — code is the new oil.
“We are seeing a rise in low code, no code solutions in the market driven by increasing containerisation and micro-services,” Iles explained.
Backed up by EDGE Research, Iles said 41 per cent of partners are already cutting code, with 17 per cent expecting to join the party within the next 12 months.
“This allows customers to develop specific business applications much more rapidly than before and will be a huge part of future projects,” he added. “Skills or collaboration in this area will be key for partners in the future.”
To read - EDGE 2017 - What the customer wants - click here
Tech Research Asia, in conjunction with ARN and Reseller News, created three unique and correlated surveys to analyse trends and alignment between customers, partners and vendors in Australia and New Zealand. Over 240 respondents including IT decision makers from a broad range of industries and business sizes, traditional and ‘new’ partners and a broad mix of vendors took part in the online survey conducted from June through July 2017.