Published: December 19th, 2016

Next year will see a rise in cloud solutions, DevOps, and digital marketing as service providers make big technological leaps, experts say.

During this year’s Looking Back, Looking Forward webinar hosted by PartnerPath on Dec. 14, panelist Darren Bibby, AVP of channel strategy and programs at DocuSign, predicted that by this time in 2017, every service provider will be on the cloud, and every vendor will be offering cloud services by this time next year.

“A lot of service providers are still making the transition to the cloud. In fact, I haven’t met anyone that’s made the full transition that they need to,” Bibby pointed out. “But by 2017, I believe there will be no one left who’s not working with or offering cloud services.”

He said vendors have a responsibility to helping their partners make the transition to a cloud-based platform, although partners need to realize they need to change and what they need to change on their own first.

Panelist Charlene O’Hanlon, an independent industry editor, made a prediction of her own. After she called 2016 ‘a year with no real big shifts’, she expects to see a rise in technology that will better enable cloud services, and puts a particular importance on containers. She also sees a strengthened DevOps movement in 2017.

“We’re living in a time where large enterprises need to move faster to keep up and DevOps is definitely something they’re starting to consider as a tool of doing that,” she explained. “This will give rise to a whole new industry and new jobs. There’s a company in Australia, for example, that offers DevOps-as-a-Service and I believe we will hear more of that in 2017.”

The two also stressed that digital marketing is as necessary for service providers and vendors as ever before. According to Bibby, when reaching out to vendors, approximately 65 per cent of B2B buyers already know what they’re going to buy before engaging with a salesperson.

“This statistic shows us that vendors need to move to a marketing-led strategy, not a sales-led strategy, because customer mentality is changing,” he said. “Service providers put such a tremendous amount of effort into generating content, but it’s about curating and getting the right content out to the right people.”

He suggested that vendors partner with or hire digital marketing strategists that truly understand the industry. Marketing in the form of giving out branded t-shirts or golfballs at in-person events don’t work anymore, he said. Bibby mentioned that service providers should be utilizing technology such as social media and online-hosted events like webinars to reach their audience. He also expects that frequent smaller marketing projects, as opposed to a few larger ones, will become common.

“Marketing has changed for service providers, and how they engage in 2017 will be different than in the past,” he said.