Content, Content, Channel technologies

Top 100 Technology Predictions for 2018 Impacting Channel Partners, MSPs

Let the games begin. In this case, it's time to kick off the top technology and business predictions for 2018. But instead of sharing our own crystal ball here, we'll spend the next 60 days or so linking out to technology pundits across the globe. Send Us Your Predictions: If your company has posted a blog highlighting 2018 predictions, please email me the link ([email protected]) for consideration. Predictions 100 to 49: Keep checking back daily. We're gonna have to hustle to hit that Top 100 figure between now and Friday, January 19, 2018.

2018 Technology Predictions from VAR Staffing

Todd Billiar
Wayne Rampey
CEO Wayne Rampey & Director of Channel Development Todd Billiar, both of VAR Staffing, offer these predictions: 48. Cybersecurity: This will most likely be the most difficult technical position to fill in 2018, and they will be “pricey” even for candidates that may be marginally qualified.  We admit we did not have to go out on a limb on this prediction, as even a recent article published by the job board Monster, put unemployment for Cybersecurity specialists at effectively 0%.  Of all the technical positions VAR Staffing recruits for, Cybersecurity specialists represented the largest % increase in 2017. 47. The Talent Hire vs. The Experienced Hire: Just about everyone acknowledges there is a shortage of skilled, experienced technical talent in one form or the other.  As a result, companies will be forced to improve their internal training programs, AND improve their ability to identify strong talent to hire, vs. primarily relying on hiring experienced talent away from competitors.  Even industry leaders such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and others, cannot hire the experienced talent needed; and typically, money is not the issue.   As a result, more and more apprenticeship programs and internal training are taking on an increasingly important role in hiring and grooming tech talent. Reduced candidate availability will impact small to mid-sized VARs and MSPs even more in 2018.  Without a solid plan to supplement experienced professionals with “high talent”, lesser experienced candidates, company growth will be constrained by lack of available skilled talent. 46. Tier 1 Client Support and Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships will take on greater importance in 2018. If ever there is a role that lends itself to apprenticeship success, it should start here. With the Millennial generation being more of a “digital native” rather than a “digital immigrant”, their natural comfort in performing tech support is obvious. CompTIA (one of many organizations) has long been an industry leader in providing technical certifications, with a progression path. VARs and MSPs would be well served to increase their use of in-house training, if not already doing so in 2018 to help “grow their own” in-house talent pool. 45. Available Talent Scarcity is also Driving Business Acquisition Activity: VAR Staffing noticed an increase in M&A activity among our clients in 2017, and we predict the trend to continue in 2018.  Two of the most obvious benefits associated with acquisitions are immediate increase in client revenue, and the addition of hard to obtain technical talent. In the 3rd quarter survey released this December by Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, (conducted with 334 business sales brokers), 90% of companies that sold for greater than $5 million, were bought by businesses looking to expand.  And expansion is one way to acquire new talent, as well as new customers.  However, even with new talent acquisition, 85% of the companies who are looking to hire also indicated the need to train those they hire.  That seems to further validate prediction #2 regarding the Talent Hire vs. The Experienced Hire. CompTIA’s Tim Herbert, SVP of Research and Market Intelligence was quoted December 8th as saying, “For the year, IT occupations have grown by 223,000 positions, further confirming the demand by businesses across every sector of the economy to deploy technology wherever possible”. 44. Employee Retention Will Continue to Take on Greater Emphasis – Assuming you agree with the position good talent remains difficult to hire, the need to focus on employee retention is more important than ever.  On aggregate, below are the most common desired improvements we hear candidates express (besides compensation) when it comes to evaluating their next job move.
  • Continued technical training and career growth
  • Work / life balance
  • Immediate and improved healthcare benefits and expense moderation or reduction
  • Greater control over the use of PTO (also relating to work / life balance challenges)

2018 Technology Predictions from BMC Corp.

Sanjay Gupta
Sanjay Gupta is VP of global ecosystem sales at BMC. He leads the BMC Global partner ecosystem and brings a depth of channel knowledge from previous roles at IBM, SAP, and BroadVision. 43. Value add wins. Vertical market expertise of partners will expand with partners continuing to realize that their revenue and margin opportunity aligns with IT complexity. IT challenges equal partner opportunity. We continue to see our best performing partners bringing value add in the form of unique software solutions, complex systems integration, and efficient services implementation methodology with highly skilled talent. This is clearly evident in the area of multi-cloud. Enterprises continue to struggle with multi-cloud management, with fully 40 % not knowing how much their organization is spending on cloud services. Additionally, enterprises advised us in a BMC commissioned survey in Aug. 2017, that partners are the single most important external source of influence over their cloud strategy. {See our entire multi-cloud survey results here.} 42. Business model evolutions. Partner business models continue to evolve and morph into hybrid entities: VARs, SIs, ISVs, MSPs, and Corporate Resellers. 2018 will see a non-stop convergence of previously distinct models. Clearly a lot of VARs are delivering additional value via unique IP with vertically specific applications running on top of platforms like BMC’s Remedy. Also, many ISVs are leveraging the power of AWS to deliver solutions in a SaaS model while also leveraging the AWS ecosystem and customer reach. 41. Marketing expertise matters. Partners that understand how to intersect the online buyers journey will continue to expand and grow. Best practice partners are leveraging digital campaigns that seek to intersect the right content with a highly targeted persona at the right point in the buyer’s journey. By nurturing the installed base, while also landing net new targets, partners are accelerating their ability to convert suspects into marketing and sales qualified opportunities at a lower cost per lead. 40. IT talent shortage. The shortage of IT talent, especially in the North America and EMEA geographies, continues into 2018. Partners that continue to invest in the technical skills of their teams exploit this significant IT skills gap by delivering complex solutions much more quickly than a talent-starved enterprise IT department ever can. Additionally, recruitment of newly graduated IT talent will be a key solution to this gap. 39. Align with the IT wallet. Security will continue to be a top spending priority for IT in 2018. Per Tech Pro Research’s survey of IT teams – 53% said security is their top priority spend in 2018. {Details here] Cyber-attacks like the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 will continue to haunt CIOs as they plan 2018 budget spending. Additionally, the complexity of global IT with on-premise and cloud-based workloads will present real opportunity for partners to deliver solutions like BMC SecOps Policy Service to drive governance across multi-cloud environments. A partner that shows up and asks: “Do you need help driving compliance and security testing across all of your on- premises and cloud operations to improve governance and reduce risk?” will get an audience. Continue to next page for predictions 38 to to 31 from Xerox, Riverbed... Welcome to predictions 38 to 21

2018  Technology Predictions from Xerox Corp.

Darren Cassidy
Predictions from Darren Cassidy, president, U.S. Channels Unit at Xerox. 38. Broader demand for managed print services (MPS) among small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs): MPS will be a great opportunity in 2018 for dealers who put a strategic focus on targeting the underpenetrated SMB market. With MPS, dealers capitalize on a growth opportunity they know—print—while building a point of differentiation from their competitors, more touch points within their client’s businesses to strengthen relationships and customer value by better managing print assets. Partners not only grow—many report their year-over-year growth is largely driven by providing MPS solutions to SMBs—they protect their customer base. 37. Rapid advances in apps-based solutions: A second strong opportunity in 2018 is in meeting client needs for more device integration to streamline workflows unique to their businesses. More and more channel partners will meet this need by building applications for their customer’s multifunction printers, an emerging trend that will grow exponentially in the coming year. 36. Continued growth in production color: Color page volumes continue to grow as offset page migration to digital accelerates, particularly for short runs. Specialized media applications can add true differentiation and deliver high margins.

2018 Technology Predictions From Riverbed Technologies

Predictions from Riverbed's CTO, GM of Service Providers and CIO,,,
Hansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed Technology

35. The Internet of things and hyper connectivity will fundamentally disrupt traditional security safeguards. Thanks to the our increasingly hyper connected world, I believe that simply having a firewall to protect against your external enemies and threats will become a thing of the past. A security infrastructure that require data to traverse it to do its job will no longer be enough. In fact, the terms “dirty-side” and “clean-side” currently being used to describe network interfaces will have no meaning.  Tomorrow, threats will come from what seem like unlikely and trusted sources. It’s going to be second and third connected business partners that you will have to worry about. Someone that is once or twice removed from your infrastructure being hacked makes you just as vulnerable as a nefarious internal actor trying to compromise your data. There used to be only so many ways one could gain entry to a system, but now with the explosion of devices and access points, these traditional defenses are simply not going to work anymore. The cleanly delineated view of your network being secure through the use of a firewall separating trusted and untrusted traffic will be antiquated, and instead security will be better ensured by viewing the network much more holistically as well as having technology safeguards in place that monitor the behavior of users and handle anomaly detection. Source: Hansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed Technology.

34. In the near-term, crowdsourcing will be used more aggressively by IaaS providers as a means of improving their security.  The crowdsourcing model works in regard to security because history has shown that the more eyeballs you have on a problem, the faster vulnerabilities will be found. WEP is exhibit A of this model, which was the initial encryption standard which was released as part of the first wireless networking standard. It was found to be riddled with vulnerabilities out the door because it was developed in a closed environment with no inputs from a broader base of people with an interest in identifying and shoring up any weaknesses. The lesson was learned from this example and these standards are now open for broader analysis. Bounty programs at Microsoft, Oracle and others also prove this out. Why? Because they ask for help from many people, numbering in the hundreds and more, who are motivated to find bugs or vulnerabilities in their products and make them better and more secure. Alternatively, if you develop in a silo, your defense against vulnerabilities is only as good as the 5, 10, 20 or so people that work on particular protocols and the one thing the teams miss will lead to vulnerabilities. If you have hundreds or more people working on these problems, then chances of finding and securing vulnerabilities goes up dramatically. Therefore, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the more open you are, the more protected you can be. As more and more companies adopt these bug, or vulnerability bounty programs, this crowdsourcing security model will prove to be one of the most efficient, economical and effective strategies for shoring up the security of the network as well as it has for software and browsers. SourceHansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed Technology.

33. Network security will ultimately be driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence. Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies at the security layer are going to be extremely dependable sentinels. Unlike todays network security systems which are largely human administered and maintained, ML and AI will be constantly vigilant against threats and vulnerabilities and will allow us to use the “P” (prevention) in IPS with confidence. The current thinking as a security professional is that if you have an updated database, secure firewall, patched OpenSSL, etc., you’re secure – but this presents a false sense of confidence that can be fatal to the security of the network. Machine learning and AI technology don’t suffer from over confidence and preconceived notions of security.  It will simply do the job of identifying anomalies and mitigating threats, but far faster and better than today’s, largely human latency bound, security posture model. SourceHansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed Technology.

Phil Harris

32. Service Providers will be critical to enabling the success of IoT. IoT is quickly becoming a reality with an expected 30 billion IoT devices to be in production globally by 2020*. These devices must all be connected to the internet, managed, and secured while also delivering a high quality of service to end users. Service providers have the most diverse set of communication mechanisms that major enterprises will rely on for this connectivity be it mobility services, broadband, and network infrastructure. How IoT devices connectivity is managed will be a major concern for the enterprise and Service Providers will be leaders in facilitating this. SourcePhil Harris, GM, Service Provider Segment Vertical, Riverbed Technology.

31. Service Providers will become the management layer for enterprises cloud environments. With the various types of cloud environments that enterprises are adopting (Azure, AWS, Google Cloud), each is unique in their complexity in managing and deploying services. If a company wants to put a workload into multiple clouds, it has to treat that workload differently based on each cloud. This is inefficient and time consuming. Service Providers, due to their expertise in infrastructure deployment and maintenance, will be capable of treat different clouds as abstract sets of resources and essentially commoditize the cloud as a service. Organizations will be able to hand their cloud management over to Service Providers who will shield them from the complexities of these cloud environments. SourcePhil Harris, GM, Service Provider Segment Vertical, Riverbed Technology.

Continue to next page for predictions 30 to 21 from Riverbed, Salesforce and Continuum executives... Welcome to predictions 30 to 21
Phil Harris

30. For service providers, user experience will be leveraged as a competitive differentiator. Today, the value of a customer facing service is measured in high availability, security and performance. While these are important, what isn’t emphasized is the user experience of that service, but this is because it is difficult to measure. Service providers will begin to quantify user sentiment, which is typically subjective, through the use of Natural Language Processing technology that can interpret human communication channels (eg, Twitter, Facebook, message boards, etc.) and measure satisfaction. This measurement can then be used to determine where application or network issues may exist based on the sentiment of the users that are interacting with them and not just on traditional monitoring technology. The move to measuring end user experience based on sentiment will allow providers to have an additional source of truth when determining how and where to address issues with their offerings – and those providers that can boast the highest level of user satisfaction will their services will have a competitive advantage. SourcePhil Harris, GM, Service Provider Segment Vertical, Riverbed Technology.

29. Delivering quality end user experience will demand the deployment of next generation networks. Organizations are essentially a distributed network of smaller work groups that are tied together via the network. The experience that your workforce is having with core applications and services can be different—from location to location for a variety of reasons. This inequality of the internal user experience can negatively impact the perception and utilization of these applications and services—and hence the enterprise loses intended business capabilities from IT investments. The traditional network is hardware dependent, and runs on fragmented and sometimes inefficient technologies that can result in performance inequalities from location to location. For IT, performance management of the application and services dependent upon these networks is challenging because they don’t have a holistic view and perspective on all the activities putting demands on the network and the ability to readily respond to those demand signals. Next generation networks, which will largely be software defined and have a management plane will provide IT with the ability to leverage the right network paths, assign appropriate priority to network traffic and ensure the health of network at all locations. These networks will also incorporate an integrated, end-to-end view of the user experience from the datacenter to the end devices at the edge so that anything that may jeopardize performance is identified and managed before the end user is impacted. SourceRich Hillebrecht, CIO, Riverbed Technology.

28. Emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, as well as IoT, will drive the need for scaled and automated network management. These emerging technologies are in the mainstream future of IT. While virtual reality (VR) was once only associated with gaming, now VR as well as augmented reality (AR) are being rapidly being adopted in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, energy – the list goes on and on. Add to this phenomenon the explosion in IoT devices at the edge of the network - which are generating data at an incredible rate - and you can see that the job of network management and ensuring network performance can quickly consume an organization that does not invest to scale through technology, process automation or partnering with a provider that does. Introducing these new emerging technologies into the workplace requires the ability to isolate their activity for visibility and understand how when scaled they will impact the network and distribution of compute workload at the edge. To be able to deploy them responsibly requires a solid foundation of enabling IT services—LAN, WAN, branch and DC computing. Modernizing the network with next generation software defined network solutions and services will be key. IT organizations will need to make decisions on sourcing—in-house managed or through a managed service provider—in order to deliver and manage the solution set needed to keep up and stay ahead. Managed network service providers will increase their capabilities in order to take on this responsibility and allow the enterprise to focus on introducing these emerging technologies to enable greater innovation and a competitive edge. SourceRich Hillebrecht, CIO, Riverbed Technology. 

2018 Partner Predictions From Salesforce


Key predictions from Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, VP of Salesforce’s partner program and marketing.

27. Industry-specific solutionsLast year I predicted we’d see increased verticalization in the channel, and I believe this trend will continue to gain traction as we head into the new year. In 2017 we saw that cloud vendors started formulating industry-specific solutions in the healthcare, financial services and retail sectors. Many of these vertical markets still remain largely underserved and untapped - offering a significant opportunity for channel partners to capitalize on and specialize in those markets. Source: Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, VP of Salesforce’s partner program and marketing. Even research firm IDC found that the Salesforce economy’s largest net gain in industries will be in financial services and manufacturing, creating $164 billion and $159 billion, respectively, in new business revenues by 2022. 26. Workforce development of the future: I expect to see channel partners invest more heavily in education programs as well as recruitment, in order to attract the next generation of the workforce. Looking to the Salesforce ecosystem I expect partners to invest in Trailhead, Salesforce's interactive, guided and gamified learning platform. Trailhead serves as both an education and recruitment tool, to both educate and help attract new employees as they expand their businesses in the Salesforce ecosystem and wider cloud environment, which is especially important considering that  Indeed, the world's #1 job site, found that two of the top ten jobs in its 2017 ranking were related to Salesforce: #4 Salesforce Administrator, #6 Salesforce Developer. Source: Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, VP of Salesforce’s partner program and marketing. 25. Becoming a digital business: Partner investments in app innovation and production will continue to increase, meaning that we will continue to see a large influx of ISVs in the channel ecosystem. Additionally, we will continue to see a convergence of SIs and ISVs, as SIs invest in their own IP, creating solutions that can plug and play, helping their clients and other companies get up to speed faster than ever. This type of app development also poses a massive business opportunity for partners, as cloud ecosystems continue to grow and provide opportunity for partners to invest in app innovation through new ways they couldn’t before. Source: Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, VP of Salesforce’s partner program and marketing.

2018 Technology Predictions from Continuum 

Predictions from Continuum's CEO, VP of product, VP of backup and disaster recovery, and Senior Vice President of Global Service Delivery.
Michael George Continuum CEO Michael George

24. In 2018, the number one reason that service providers will be fired by their end-customers and a new one will be hired will be security. Clients expect that their service providers are taking every necessary step to secure them against cyberthreats. But, an escalating threat landscape means that there is a new set of attack vectors that those clients aren’t prepared for and a growing portfolio of security tools that they’re not paying for.

Service providers are going to face difficult conversations with their clients, in which they need to explain how the threat has changed and what the clients now need to be protected. These will be challenging, but with the marketplace rapidly retooling and retraining to meet this demand, these service providers must either face the difficult conversation or face being unseated by a more capable rival.

External factors are at play here, too. While 2017’s massive data breaches stole the headlines for a day or two, their effects will be felt for months and years to come as the stolen data is traded and exploited on the dark web well into 2018. Service providers need to decide if they want to have these tough conversations now, or in the aftermath of an attack, their clients thought they were protected against. This is a place where smart IT Service Providers can dislocate the market by leading with a comprehensive and effective security solution. SourceMichael George, CEO, Continuum.

23. Service providers seeking the opportunity to be acquired in 2018 need to focus on their sales ability, or avoid getting caught in an M&A ‘no-man’s-land.’ Acquirers are now paying a premium for providers that have either a sales capacity or a cost-effective service delivery capacity. If a provider isn’t excelling at either, they’ll be left in no-man’s-land and will struggle to survive in a market that’s consolidating at a rapid pace. Providers need to shift their organizational focus and economics from service delivery to becoming better in-tune with their market and selling against their needs, or they could struggle to survive beyond 2019. SourceMichael George, CEO, Continuum.

Fielder Hiss

22. There will be fewer servers on-premise in 2018. Expect to see more SMBs move more servers to the cloud because they think it is safer, less expensive and more reliable. However, at the same time, they see more attacks to clouds and feel they now become a target – even though they have been a target already. I’m hearing from partners that clients are getting scared and ask for non-public cloud options. That means we will see an increase in CoLo scenarios and partners starting their own DCs while the rest moves to the public cloud. Also, more software vendors will offer SaaS solutions. SourceFielder Hiss, Vice President of Product, Continuum.

21. With the reality of GDPR coming, the requirements for companies of all sizes are going to get real around compliance. New security regulations will increase the need for secure software – not just security products but all products being more secure. Things like 2 Factor Authentication and Identity Management will be requested for existing products. SourceFielder Hiss, Vice President of Product, Continuum.

Continue to next page for predictions 20 to 11 from Continuum, StorageCraft, IR and CloudJumper.  Welcome to predictions 20 to 11
Randy Bowie

20. A major challenge SMBs will face in 2018 is complexity, as many of the applications small business use are moving to the cloud. That means access from anywhere, which is great, but it also can mean more accounts to keep up with and data spanning from the cloud to on-premise.  At least for now, that means more to manage and more to protect.

This year we saw more cloud-based disaster recoveries than ever in the history of BDR at Continuum. This was driven by natural disasters at a time when small business is more dependent on IT than ever. I think we will see this trend continue in 2018, as cloud disaster recovery is a necessity for a growing number of businesses. Backup of cloud-based services, such as e-mail and productivity applications will continue growing as these applications continue moving off premise.

Confidentiality, integrity, and availability are still the triad of data security and compliance.  BDR solutions will be viewed more in this light than ever before.  A solution which cannot demonstrate protection from unauthorized access, data tampering, while providing ready access to authorized users is simply not viable. Long-term data retention driven by compliance will continue to benefit from the expansion of highly durable and secure long-term storage options from Amazon, Azure, Google, IBM and others. These technologies also provide a good alternative for offsite backup. SourceRandy Bowie, Vice President of Backup Products & Engineering, Continuum.

Tasos Solakis

19. Cyber disaster recovery services and cyber security services will have the highest growth and highest margins for the MSPs. Data migration from existing hosted applications to cloud offering other than Office 365 will become significant by the end of 2018. International markets will see growth in the traditional MSP services space and will lag the U.S. market in the cloud service offerings. On the other hand, international will have similar demand to the US market on cybersecurity services. The international market had worse experiences with malware in 2017 than the US market and demand for security prevention, detection and remediation services will increase in 2018. In the new year, MSPs will also have the opportunity to offer consulting services and migration services for the cloud solutions with higher margins than their existing RMM offerings. Focusing on specific vertical markets will be critical to the MSPs success. SourceTasos Tsolakis, Senior Vice President of Global Service Delivery, Continuum.

18. Digital Currency: Michael Novogratz Predicts Bitcoin at $40,000 by Late 2018.

2018 Technology Predictions from StorageCraft

Doug Brockett

Doug Brockett, president of StorageCraft, offers these three predictions:

17. Data Overload and what it will mean: Organizations are going to find themselves choking on the volume of data they are expected to back up. The problem will scale outside of traditional architectures.  This represents a huge vulnerability when faced with recovery scenarios.  As such, there will be a marked increase in the need and demand to bring data intelligence, reduction and increased performance to solve the back-up and recovery problems.

16. Intelligent next-gen storage: Storage will become self-managing as intelligence and analytics are added to the software stack.  Intelligence will help organizations segment their infrastructure and know what is critical vs. non-critical data and where to store it based on business rules and policies. This will help radically improve data backup and recovery in terms of SLA, RPO and RTO.

15. Convergence between primary and secondary storage will accelerate and extend the data infrastructure: All flash storage and recovery architectures will become an accessible and practical solution. They will be massively scalable and affordable with performance capabilities that deliver instant recovery from secondary back up at the same performance as primary.  Convergence will extend the data infrastructure from on-prem through VM and the cloud, with cloud recovery capabilities that allow instant recovery from VMs or on-prem in minutes vs hours.

2018 Predictions From IR

UC experts at IR offer up these predictions:

14. Digital transformation will reach the moment of truth. After years of investing in digital transformation initiatives, companies will finally have to demonstrate a concrete ROI in 2018. Organizations that have rushed ahead with projects that are not delivering ROI, or worse, are resulting in a poor customer experience, will gain public notoriety and suffer damage to their brand.

13. Adoption of UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) will accelerate, but most enterprises will opt for a hybrid model.  Organizations have discovered that moving to the cloud does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Over the next several years, the hybrid approach will remain popular, transitioning some systems to the cloud while continuing to run others on their on-premises infrastructure.

12. Artificial intelligence will greatly improve the customer experience. Consumers are increasingly connecting with AI assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa in their daily lives. It’s only a matter of time before these kinds of bots will be accepted in a business environment.

2018 Predictions From CloudJumper

CloudJumper specializes in workspace as a service for MSPs. The company's predictions include...

11. Migration from private to public cloud infrastructure: While private cloud environments deliver a type of cloud computing that is similar to public clouds, they also require sophisticated virtualization, technical automation, resource monitoring, and many other expensive resources. Compared to a private cloud, the most obvious benefit to using a public cloud is the savings. With a public cloud, organizations do not have to purchase, install, operate, or maintain servers or other equipment as they would with private clouds. As organizations seek to reduce their annual IT spend, public clouds offer a viable alternative that CloudJumper expects to grow significantly in 2018.

Continue to next page for predictions 10 to 1 from Kaseya, BitTitan, Intermedia, Palo Alto Networks and more. Welcome to predictions 10 to 1 CloudJumper predictions continued from previous page

10. Increasing acquisitions related to the consolidation of tools that MSPs use to operate their businesses: A recent example of this is Datto's acquisition of Autotask, part of a private equity deal that's expected to be completed this month. However, MSPs can look forward to a rising number of acquisitions and mergers as key providers centralize important MSP enablement solutions under an integrated solution set.

9. Continued movement down market by Telcos and independent software vendors (ISVs) resulting in the erosion of MSP marketshare: Many telcos are actively trying to make use of their existing scale and IT savvy to move beyond basic voice and data services in order to begin selling a managed service. Additionally, ISVs seeking to expand software availability, delivery, and reach, are augmenting revenue with service-based business units. With managed services proving to be a profitable line of business for telcos and ISVs, established MSPs can expect to feel revenue pressures in the year ahead and beyond.

2018 Predictions From Kaseya

Miguel Lopez
Dana Epp
Mike Puglia

Kaseya Chief Product Officer Mike Puglia, CTO Dana Epp and SVP/GM Miguel Lopez weigh in with these thoughts...

8. Rise of the “Super MSP”: This coming year we will see a growing trend of more super MSPs showing up in the market. The MSP market used to be defined by local competition, made up of smaller niche firms—much like local competition with a “mom and pop” hardware store. In 2018, this market will get turned on its heads as more super MSP powerhouses—the Lowes and Home Depots of the hardware store world—set up shop in the North American market. This has already begun, but next year the impact of super MSPs will be even more acute. These super MSPs are the result of M&A activity among smaller players. The MSP market will see much consolidation in the coming year, leading to the rise of the super MSP. 

7. GDPR Adoption: May 25 will be Anti-Climatic: Executives in businesses affected by GDPR understand there are important steps to take to ensure compliance, and avoid fines levied if they fail to do so by May 25. But similar to HIPAA many years ago, there will not be much movement until GDRP fines are actually levied and sink their teeth into companies that have failed to comply. There will be a few “shots sent across the bow” so to speak that will send a message that GDPR compliance and fines are for real. That said, actual fines will not happen until the end of the year, maybe even into early 2019. Expect a high-profile fine to raise awareness, but it will be many months after May 25.

6. Fine Enforcement Controversy: Part of the problem with enforcing GDPR is the Information Commissioners Office in the UK, which has only around 500 workers right now. They plan to hire 300 more over the next three years, but the fact remains that office will be severely understaffed in 2018. So when they go after that high-profile case to make a statement, it will end up being controversial and likely tied up in court as the understaffed office will have the burden of making a compelling case against the targeted company. There will be fines levied and also a lot of controversy at whether the fines are justified or not.

5. Artificial Intelligence Moves Deeper into the Enterprise: In 2018, AI will move from its present consumer-dominated use cases—Siri, Alexa, etc.—deeper into the enterprise. You see Microsoft as an example, using cognitive services to tie into apps like Skype, creating the ability to have communications and meaningful dialog with software. Moreover, AI will drive deeper business analytics, allowing IT to actually take advantage of the information they are collecting. For instance, next year businesses will use AI to add intelligence to everyday desktop management tasks, such as software patching. New network intelligence will allow IT to patch faster and cleaner, with much more automation involved.

Who Weighed In First

The following predictions reached us in November...
Geeman Yip

4. The automation clock is ticking for MSPs: Service providers must implement some form of automation in their workflow or face extinction, with Gartner estimating a 25 percent drop in customer retention for those businesses unable to tap automation through 2019. SourceBitTitan CEO Geeman Yip.

Carrie Johnson
3. Separation, speed, money and time will be the big technology themes for 2018. Source: Forrester Research Senior VP Carrie Johnson.
Mike Gold
2. Partners will expect to take greater ownership of their own brand: Differentiating services is critical to achieving profitability in the channel, especially when virtually every MSP, VAR and agent is setup to resell offerings such as Office 365. On top of that, as more customers move to the cloud, partners that have lagged in this transition are having to play catch up to avoid major consequences, such as customer churn, downsizing and sun setting their business altogether. To remain competitive, partners need a business approach that allows them to be the brand, face, and solution provider for their customers. If partners want to succeed, and grow profitably, long term, working with vendors that let them put their own brand on the product should be part of the mix. Source: Intermedia CEO Mike Gold.
Ron Myers
1. The Cloud Will Accelerate channel partner migration to next-generation security innovators. Source: Palo Alto Networks Channel Chief Ron Myers.
Send Us Your Predictions: If your company has posted a blog highlighting 2018 predictions, please email me the link ([email protected]) for consideration.
Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.