Robert DeMarzo looks back at the midmarket trends that shaped 2017 and will impact the midsize enterprise in the coming year.
Since this is our last Midsize Enterprise Strategies newsletter for the year, we wanted to share a few of the big trends that swept through the market in 2017 as it ends. We look forward to engaging you in 2018 with fresh ideas and insight on what makes the midmarket tick—at least from an IT standpoint. The trends of the past year built upon many of the changes that have been reshaping the landscape for a while now with several new developments emerging.
Let’s look at a few of our observations on the year that is winding down while also examining how these trends will impact the coming years.
* No one is secure. If there was one dominant theme to 2017, it was that no one is safe—midmarket, enterprise or small business. The year—from a tech standpoint, at least—will be remembered for cyberattacks, breaches, ransomware and the carnage it left on tech and business leaders who lost their jobs because of perceived or actual shortcomings. The midmarket IT leaders we spoke with throughout the year said they were struggling to keep their companies safe from cyberattacks. They were all worried because they did not have enough resources, staff or partners to secure all of their company data and customer information. Boards of directors and financial leaders were sympathetic but there just wasn’t enough money to secure it all. Many took to heart the IT leaders, such as those at Equifax and other companies, who lost their jobs after attacks. They knew all too well that, despite the best of intentions, coming attacks could one day cost them their jobs. The prevalence of bad actors is what drove so many midmarket IT leaders to our first Midsize Enterprise Summit IT Security workshop which was designed to help build the right IT security strategy.
* Welcome to the table. The second major theme of the year was the arrival of IT leaders who had “a seat at the table.” We heard that phrase so many times over the past few years it started to become cliché. But in 2017, many of the midmarket IT leaders who attend our events or sit on the MES Board were finally recognized as senior business leaders, not just the nerdy person who runs the technology department.
* You got the seat at the table—now what? Now that many midmarket companies have recognized CIOs as business leaders, the question is, what impact will that have on the business? Certainly, as more and more of every business becomes tech-based, the CIO will play an instrumental role in the company’s growth, customer engagement and supply chain just to mention a few. One CIO told us his chief executive cannot keep pace with tech and is leaning more on him to “figure it all out” while working more with line of business leaders going forward. This puts the CIO in a more powerful position than ever before. It also puts to rest the argument that the CMO or HR director is the new tech leader picking tech partners and spending IT budget that render the CIO superfluous. Not just yet.
* The workplace is about to change—for the better. Recent sexual harassment scandals are going to have a profound effect on the workplace in the future in terms of acceptable behavior and gender engagement. These instances of sexual harassment should have ever IT leader examining their own behavior and demeanor while make sure that everyone on their staff is treated fairly and feels comfortable in workplace. These IT leaders and their actions are going to be carefully watched in the coming year like never before.
* Gender diversity is being taken seriously. At our MES Fall Conference, a small group of women IT leaders came together to start voicing their concern about the lack of gender diversity in the IT departments of many midmarket companies along with their enterprise brethren. This was not male-bashing but constructive criticism that something must be done. These women leaders want their voices heard on many issues, most notably how companies, educational institutions and government leaders can help drive more women into the tech field. They are clearly starting a movement to help companies find ways to nurture young women in IT and promote more women to IT leadership positions such as CIO.
* Managing emerging technologies. Never has the tech industry seen such a wave of innovation. Much of it washed up at the office door of the CIO or flooded the IT department with calls from business leaders. Past waves that centered on virtualization or application management seem mild by comparison. CIOs today are faced with the following, in no particular order: IoT, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, multi-cloud environments, containers and microservices and next-gen data analysis. That’s just a few of the emerging tech trends. The good news is that the CIO has taken a business leadership role and can help companies figure it all out. The bad is that the market suddenly got very complex.
Well, that touches on a few of the trends our MES attendees, board members and research brought to light in 2018. We hope you will come to one of our MES conferences where these issues are discussed among peers in depth. In the meantime, please let us know what you think of these trends and offer your perspective on 2017 or the outlook for 2018. You can reach me at Rdemarzo@thechannelcompany.com
We wish you, your family and colleagues a Merry Christmas and Merry New Year. Happy holidays to all.