Top 15 Kiwi 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 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017...

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    15 - Turnover at the top will accelerate With business and operational model changes comes new leadership, with New Zealand no longer immune to such change. Because 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 across the country 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.

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    14 - An intelligent channel will emerge, creating new markets along the way 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). With New Zealand ripe for such innovation, 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. Consequently, an intelligent channel will emerge.

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    13 - Business will demand Kiwi consultants as digital transformation pilot projects shift to scale In New Zealand, 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.

  • 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 for Kiwi businesses.

  • 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.

  • 10 - New NZ leadership required for Hewlett Packard Enterprise to 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 - both locally and globally - to combat 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 locally will hinge on the vendor’s ability to replace the departed Keith Watson. With no word yet on who will take over the New Zealand hot seat, the need for new leadership across the country remains crucial as Dell EMC prepares to go live with its refreshed channel program and strategy.

  • 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 - IBM will claw back ground in the channel In recruiting Mark Baker as channel and digital leader, IBM - under the new leadership of Mike Smith - is well positioned to claw back channel ground in New Zealand. For the appointment of the Westcon-Comstor country manager of New Zealand helps fill a gaping void for Big Blue, with Baker’s channel expertise and contacts critical to expanding and enhancing the vendor’s partner base nationwide. As an admired and respected figure within the local channel, Baker first entered the industry in 1997 with Datastor, before being acquired by Westcon Group in 2009. Through leading Westcon-Comstor in New Zealand, Baker has forged a leading reputation as a strong channel operator, understanding the needs and requirements of resellers within the industry. Furthermore, Baker’s appointment is indicative of the critical importance of IBM growing its mid-market business in New Zealand, alongside its renewed commitment to supporting its channel ecosystem.

  • 7 - The shadow channels will challenge tradition 2017 represents a defining year for the New Zealand 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 nationwide, widening the competitive partner landscape as a result.

  • 6 - 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.

  • 5 - 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.

  • 4 - Start-up birth rate will grow as Kiwis 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 many in 2016, workers are waiting and watching for a gap in the market, with the industry ready to embrace new companies addressing niche needs.

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    3 - Kiwi partners will progress in the cloud Perhaps 2016 will be remembered as the year that the penny finally dropped in cloud, with the channel finding new ways to innovate, collaborate and specialise. Because in New Zealand, it’s the cloud where partners are progressing. Through Microsoft, strong plays from Softsource, Intergen and MHA Cloud Computing among others demonstrate the increased levels of innovation taking place within the cloud. And likewise, with Enterprise IT, API Talent and The Instillery through AWS. But the key is to embrace cloud responsibly and strategically, taking into account the impact on sales teams, business models and billing methods - that’ll be the test in 2017 and beyond.

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    2 - Top level change will trigger new ways of doing business In examining the past two years in New Zealand, the technology industry will best be defined by its top-level change, with a host of new leaders taking charge. Grant Hopkins came in to lead the HP business, Dave Wilson took the reins at Cisco, with Mike Hill, James Kennedy-Moffat, Mike Smith and Andrew Fox taking over at Lenovo, NetApp, IBM and Aruba Networks respectively. Not forgetting that Barrie Sheers has now settled into his new role leading Microsoft, that Jolie Hodson has replaced the outgoing Tim Miles in the Spark Digital hot seat and that Hewlett Packard Enterprise has yet to appoint a replacement for Keith Watson. The result is a new-look New Zealand technology industry, led by different leaders and driven by different approaches and behaviours.

  • 1 - Kiwi innovation will capture the imagination of the world Renowned for thinking outside the box, New Zealand’s determination to push the technological envelope will see Kiwi innovation capture the imagination of the world in new ways during 2017. With The Instillery, Plexure and Datagate as recent examples, American dreams are fast becoming realities for local businesses built on cutting-edge technology. Continuing the theme at the larger end of town, Datacom - fresh from becoming the first Kiwi IT company to hit the billion dollar mark - is also expanding overseas. With growing businesses in Australia, Asia, the UK and the US also, such success further illustrates how New Zealand made technology is growing in stature across the world. Through increased cloud adoption and the rise of emerging technologies, businesses are being born global, with New Zealand no longer challenged by isolation. Consequently, businesses up and down Aotearoa are advancing at a rapid rate, seizing opportunities across all corners of the world.

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