Artificial intelligence, machine learning and the cloud are three of the top areas that come to mind when I think about the enterprise. If you asked me that same question five years ago, my answer would have been much different. Flash storage and virtualization would have been the top-of-mind technologies driving buzz in the industry. To me, this is what makes the enterprise one of the most exciting areas of technology — constant innovation designed to enable companies to drive better experiences for their customers.
Like most other tech industries, from security to consumer to fintech, the enterprise market is super crowded. It’s chock full of large legacy players who have struggled in recent years to try and out-innovate emerging startups who have war chests full of VC funding and are trying to gain valuable market share. The net result is it’s becoming more and more difficult for enterprise tech companies to differentiate themselves in the market. Only compounding the problem, the number of journalists who cover this space is dwindling as well.
So what is a company supposed to do? In this post, I’ll outline a few predictions about the enterprise tech market over the next 10 years and how companies will need to leverage integrated communications in order to succeed.
Targeting New Audiences Through New Mediums
Gone are the days of the all-powerful CIO who was solely responsible for all IT decisions made within an organization. In the past, in order to purchase a piece of IT-related technology, companies needed to wait for the blessing from the CIO in order to move forward with a purchase decision. One of the biggest consequences of doing so was that the process took forever. In an era where end users and customers demanded immediacy, the old way of purchasing IT had to go.
The CIO will remain a very important role within any organization, but as more pressure is being put on the company to do things faster, such as develop new products or applications, others within the company will purchase the IT infrastructure they need to get the job done. For example, when developers need an environment to test how their application scales based on production data, they will simply purchase resources on a public cloud. Even C-level executives, such as the CMO, are procuring their own technology stacks to help them do their jobs.
This change in buying audience has a major impact on the way companies speak to target buyers. The organizations that will succeed will be the ones who can speak directly to their new target markets in the channels and mediums they frequent. While nobody will say no to a story in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, those might not be the outlets that new target audiences, like developers, are reading first. Instead, companies should identify and focus on outlets where developers frequent. With a little market research and conversations with your own developer teams to see what outlets they read, companies can identify new outlets such as The New Stack that may be a way better option for reaching your new target audience.
Tomorrow’s Hot Enterprise Topics
Will the top technologies that currently dominate the enterprise media — AI, machine learning and the cloud — go away in ten years? Absolutely not. These technologies will continue to evolve over time to better meet the needs of customers. AI will become more intelligent as researchers have more data with which to train AI systems. Machine learning will be even faster and the cloud will continue to expand as we see more critical workloads being run in cloud environments (public, hybrid or multi-cloud). But what other technologies are going to dominate the conversation over the next ten years? A few of my predictions include:
- Quantum computing: This is one of the most exciting enterprise tech races to watch. Companies ranging from large enterprises including IBM and Intel to startups such as Rigetti Computing are exploring ways to harness the power and promise of quantum computing to solve critical business challenges that today’s classically trained computers can’t.
- AI and Human Intelligence: There is an inherent fear that AI will replace human workers, but that won’t be the case. Yes, AI will take over some tasks that humans currently do, but that will free up more time for higher value work.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity and inclusion will remain one of the hottest topics in technology over the next ten years. In particular, it will be interesting to see if the investments companies are making now will result in meaningful change or if we will simply start over again.
- Next-Gen Infrastructure: What will be the new infrastructure that tomorrow’s applications run on? To be honest, I don’t know what this is and it is probably being developed in a research lab somewhere. But what I can say with confidence is that it will likely be faster than what currently exists today.
Breaking Through the Noise
The enterprise tech market is very broad, exciting and certainly crowded. In order to help stand out amongst the crowd, enterprise tech companies need a robust integrated communications plan that focuses on where target audiences consume content and deliver messages that highlight the business value and results that can be achieved.
It all starts with customers, and seeing is believing. Your target audience wants to know the kind of results they can potentially achieve. What better way to showcase that than with current customers? Leveraging customers to talk about results that have been achieved in either media interviews, blog posts, Q&As or case studies will serve as a powerful communications tactic.
Having a unique POV on market trends is another way to stand out from competitors, and helps to position company spokespeople as industry thought leaders. It is important to identify the trends that matter most to your business and target audience and to have a unique opinion on that topic. Enterprise tech companies should create thought leadership platforms for company spokespeople to ensure that each has a specific topic area to focus on in media interviews as well as speaking opportunities at relevant conferences.
Finally, data. Everyone loves when a trend or hot topic is backed by data. Conducting a survey of your customers or partnering with a research firm to poll target audiences on a topic will add credibility — which goes a long way with the media and target audiences.
As evolving business needs and customer demand drive new innovations in the enterprise tech market, it will continue to be one of the most fascinating areas to watch over the next ten years. In order to stay ahead, companies must keep up with changing audiences, meet them where they are, and cut through the crowd with compelling messages that showcase the value being brought to end users. Many companies will succeed and many will fail. For those that do succeed, the role communications plays will be a critical success factor.