2018 will be a year for service providers to truly expand their expertise and facilitate digital transformation for their customers across many industries. The business landscape is going to look incredibly different in the new year with more and more organizations finally executing their cloud migration strategies, the explosion of IoT adoption and customers beginning to demand more from vendors to help them differentiate and gain a competitive edge. Service providers are perfectly positioned to help in all of these areas while also discovering new business opportunities. Let's investigate some of these business opportunities in more detail:
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 according to IDC. 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. IoT connectivity will be a major concern for the enterprise, and service providers will be leaders in facilitating this while also gaining the opportunity to utilize much more of their infrastructure investments.
Service providers will become the management layer for enterprise cloud environments
With the various types of cloud environments that enterprises are adopting (e.g. Azure, AWS and Google Cloud), each is unique in the complexity of managing and deploying its services. If a company wants to put a workload into multiple clouds, it has to treat that workload differently based on each cloud. The vast majority of businesses are simply not capable of doing this.
Service providers, due to their years of expertise in infrastructure deployment and maintenance, can treat different clouds as abstract sets of resources and essentially commoditize the cloud as a service. Service providers can include cloud management in their portfolio thereby shielding customers from the complexities of these cloud environments.
User experience will be positioned as a competitive differentiator by service providers
Today, the value of a customer-facing service is measured in high availability, security and performance -- an area service providers know quite well. While these features are important, what isn't emphasized is the user experience of that service, but this is because it has been difficult to measure.
In 2018, service providers could begin to quantify user sentiment, through the use of Natural Language Processing technology that can interpret human communication channels, including social and internal corporate communication networks, 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. The move to measuring end-user experience based on sentiment will allow providers to have an additional data source when determining how and where to address issues with their offerings. The providers that can boast the highest level of user satisfaction from their services will have a competitive advantage.
The disruption felt by organizations in all verticals will only get more acute as they try to stay ahead of technology trends. In response, service providers have the opportunity to leverage their investments and expertise to smooth these pain points for their customers while also growing their market share in the New Year.
— Phil Harris, GM, Service Provider Solutions, Riverbed Technology