Predictions for 2018

Growth is king again

We have spent the last five years writing about how technology will help businesses consolidate solutions, increase efficiencies and ultimately reduce cost as this has been the highest priority for organisations across all industries. We are not saying that this need will disappear but rather, we expect to see value propositions focus more around driving digital growth rather than simply saving money. This will give vendors and partners a great platform to showcase digital innovation and really differentiate their offerings based on how their technology will support revenue and customer growth.

Gartner’s CEO Research found that growth (#1) and technology (#2) are the top CEO priorities for 2017-2018.

So how are you approaching this shift towards digital growth in your business? Are you able to be more granular in how your value propositions will support this trend? Do you need any help in realising the potential for your growth?

If you’ve got a story you’d like to share with us, then use the hashtag #growthnotcost.

Shift to micro-market segments

Throughout 2017, we saw a shift in focus to smaller and smaller market segments. No longer are we asked to write either standalone or joint value propositions for a broad market.

Emphasis is placed on a distinct, and often clear-cut set of customers – a geography, a sector, a sub segment, or sometimes just one solitary customer. We fully expect this trend to continue to grow in 2018 as ‘micro moments’ become increasingly more important.

These micro moments – when a person turns to a device or source such as a blog, app or smartphone – are happening every second of every day now. And, so the need to market effectively to them becomes more targeted, so that they’re engaged and more likely to respond.

In 2018, these micro-moments will transform the digital B2B arena as more people will hunt for information via mobile and make a purchase decision after a few touchpoints with the brand.

Take a closer look at this article for more in-depth detail.

Businesses need to be prepared to know the exact key characteristics of the customers they want to target. How will you be refining your value propositions or partner marketing plans to focus on these micro-segments, and what they need?

Are you digitally different?

2017 was the year of digitalisation with most major IT and telecoms companies focusing on this as a key business theme.

This was not surprising as many businesses have either embarked on or are setting out on their digital transformation journeys. But, as we see with many marketing themes such as cloud, with so much noise in the market, it is important to be clear about how your version of the digital story is different.

According to the survey data, 93% of CIOs at top-performing organisations* and 78% across the entire global sample (3,000+) lead adaptable and open-to-change IT organisations, thanks to the ongoing transformation to digital business.

Have you thought about your digital story yet? What is your differentiation and how can you back this up? How can you get this story out into the market – and make sure your sales team is speaking from the same page?

Focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics

We expect a continued focus in value propositions on AI and robotics. This is being fuelled by the media and headlines from the likes of Elon Musk trialling driverless trucks and AI-based space rockets.

However, we will be treading carefully as this subject is in hype mode. As it becomes a reality over the coming years, the promise for 2018 will be that every move is subject to close critique. As a result, marketing teams really need to think about how they speak about this subject and how they position their story and developments.

AI is listed as one of the most hyped technologies in intelligence annual industry survey 2017:

How do you position the promise of AI and robotics as part of your value proposition to tell both your today and future story without over-hyping it? You need to make sure it’s exciting, but always make sure you bring it back to reality. Showcase how your technology is a key part of this infrastructure and the importance of making investments now to have the right platforms in place later to really embrace AI.

Connecting customer pain to product becomes a Must-Do

Driven by a more complex market and increased customer choice (with platform / as-a-Service models), it will become even more important this year to be able to demonstrate a firm connection between customer needs / pain-points and the end solution / product. This will apply to both end-customers and partners as both need to see not only the value in doing business but how specifically it will help them achieve their goals. Helping sales connect this from end-to-end, for example mapping customer pain-points not just down to the solution and product level, but also back up to your business or go-to-market themes, will be essential to achieving revenue growth. We expect also to see more digital tools being used to help enable sales in this more consultative selling approach.

Do you have a clear journey which connects the customer’s business pain all the way down to the product? Is the story simple and clear to communicate? How can you use digital tools to make telling this story easier and differentiated? How can you build your technology partners into this flow?

Telling the eco-system story grows in importance

Customers are consuming technology in multiple ways – as-a-Service, in the cloud, public and private, on-premise and as hyper-converged infrastructure. The reality of this can often mean a solution comprising multiple technology vendors and partners. Together their combined business value is higher than ever before – as the services they provide are more critical to businesses than before. Being able to tell this complex, yet very important story will be increasingly important in 2018: organisations will need to work hard to build good partner relationships and manage all stakeholders across the wider eco-system in order to develop a consolidated approach to the market and clear single message.

Consider: Are your most valuable technology partnership stories being clearly articulated. Are you communicating this across the stakeholders within your business and your wider eco-system? Have you got the right programmes in place to build and execute joint go-to-market plans with your partners?

Helen Curtis
Managing Director

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