Customers are relying on solution providers more than ever as they try to choose new investments and re-engineer their businesses around growth, according to Deloitte CTO Bill Briggs, a speaker at the Best of Breed 2017 conference in Atlanta, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.
Briggs said solution providers are key to helping customers navigate a strategy to stay ahead in the digital world. "Customers spend a lot of time thinking about the 'core,' asking how they can modernize the assets they've invested in for the last few decades, how to get return on investment, how to think of data in a different way and how to bring pieces of IT together," he said.
"To address these questions we have to focus not on the 'what,' but instead look at the 'so what,'" Briggs said.
[Related: Best of Breed 2017 Conference]
To keep up with the "unprecedented level of change," Briggs stressed that channel partners need to focus on technology trends, including understanding digital transformation in the enterprise, looking at analytics so that data can be a business asset for customers, and shaping a flexible and ubiquitous cloud strategy.
However, the channel needs to look at emerging technology trends as well. Briggs said that there are several key trends that Deloitte sees as relevant for clients in the next 18 to 24 months.
These emerging trends include the understanding and implementing the concept of mixed reality, bringing together automation and machine learning, and shifting blockchain from a concept to prove its success on a broader scale.
Cybersecurity, as well as being able to assess risk and regulations, stands out among the most critical aspects that apply to technology across the board, and need to be top of mind for solution providers, said Briggs.
The channel needs to help customers make sense of technology trends and make the investments that correspond to those trends, said Briggs. That will ultimately help partners work with their customer base, specify their digital strategies and modernize their assets.
"Every company has a digital strategy, but if there's 10 people in the room who own a part of that strategy, there's 11 definitions of what it is," said Briggs. "We want to help customers shape that and get it down."
Shanin Pirooz, chief technology officer at San Jose, Calif.-based DataEndure, said that Briggs was "spot on" that solution providers should look at the "so what" behind technology implementations and that the channel needs to be having these conversations with customers right now.
"When customers look at migrations and getting their infrastructure into the cloud, they need to look at more than cloud ... they need to think about big data, security, analytics ... [Briggs] was spot on that partners need to talk about other technology trends when they discuss the cloud," Pirooz said.