Q&A with Gartner Expert Helen Huntley

Tech providers face continuous change and disruption and must determine how they best compete in a fierce market place. and thrive in the face of growing competition. Helen Huntley VP, Distinguished Analyst and Keynote Speaker, shares the top tech disruptors and opportunities that are going to impact your business this year. 


In terms of emerging technologies, where are the growth opportunities?

No matter what area of technology, geographical region or industry you look at, you see a confluence of major change happening very quickly and having a potentially very large impact. AI is definitely a growth opportunity, including everything from conversational AI platforms and virtual assistants to swarm intelligence and deep learning. There are major advances happening in IoT and digital twins, and in personal technologies such as the connected home, smart wearables and the smart workplace. You’ve got the 5G network, quantum computing starting to become reality and of course all the ongoing market disruptors such as Amazon and Uber. And don’t forget biotech and synthetic life, autonomous vehicles, human-machine interfaces and mixed realities on the horizon. 


What are the biggest challenges technology providers are facing today?

There is so much going on in tech right now and change is happening at such a fast pace that tech providers struggle to keep up. Emerging technology, what should we invest in, changing buyers, changing budgets, changing decision makers, changing reasons why they make decisions, shifting markets, consolidations, mergers, acquisitions, changing ecosystems.


Tech providers are sometimes reactionary in their decisions. Something happens, and they react to address that change. But this could cause you to be too late in the game. Did I wait too long? Is my market share shrinking? Can I still capture market share? Should I hurry and make a lot of investments all at once, and where will I get the money to do so? Do I need to build an ecosystem or partnership program to help me catch up? The challenge is to get ahead of the chaos and be ready to deliver the right products the right way.


What’s more, you need to invest in the roles, talent, people and infrastructure to be able to create something new. Even if you can imagine it, you have to have the infrastructure and roles in place to make it reality. You need an effective talent recruitment strategy to make that happen.


The technology provider landscape is extremely competitive. How can tech providers differentiate?

It’s tough out there. Over half of product launches fail and your competition is fierce. You have to really look at where the technology is headed and understand your customer; not just what they want, but how they want to buy it, who is making the buying decision and for what reasons. If you miss the boat at any of those points, you’re going to run into trouble.


Understanding the end user and how that influences your messaging and positioning strategy is key for setting yourself apart from the competition. That drives differentiation, and differentiation drives revenue.


What’s the defining characteristic of today’s technology marketplace? What’s your best piece of advice on how to deal with it?

We are in the midst of an unprecedented wave of innovation. Fast-moving emerging technologies, changing buyer dynamics and shifting markets are causing significant disruption. Automation, cloud, consumerization, virtualization and IoT, among other trends, are shaping a dramatically different future. To succeed, you have to take on disruption intentionally, not just react to change.


Those who stay in a reactive mode will lag behind those who take a proactive stance. Success will depend on developing a well-informed, dynamic, and — most importantly — intentional, proactive strategy based on a deep understanding of your customers, your competition and where you need to prioritize your investments. It’s more important than ever to seek out the industries, regions and business priorities with high adoption speed and the greatest potential for growth.


This is a fierce, highly competitive marketplace. In addition to the right product, the follow-through has to be there. You need the right messaging and positioning, and you need the ability to reach the right sales channels and be a robust partner in your technology ecosystem, and you need a high level of operational readiness. 


Disruption is widespread and hard to predict. What can tech providers do to stay ahead?

Exploit disruption. Disruption can bring major opportunities to innovate and grow. It can also pose a fundamental threat to your business model and revenue stream. Recognize change, craft your plan and take action. Don’t wait for others to make the first move. Anticipate and innovate rather than react and follow.


Business models are also changing. People, businesses and things are converging in ways we’ve never seen before. It’s going to cause widespread disruption of traditional business models and the ways people invest. We’re continuing to see a departure from traditional IT spending and the rise of empowered business units. As social, mobile, big data and cloud continue to merge, IT investment is dispersing across the organization. Who buys technology, how they want to buy it and how they interact with the vendor is all changing pretty dramatically. Tech providers need to carefully observe these changes, really listen to this new customer and how they want to invest in technology solutions and get ahead of these changes. Again, gather the best intelligence you can, create your strategy and take action.


Find critical information about how tech markets are shifting, how buyer needs are changing and how emerging technologies will likely impact key technology sectors at Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference 2019, 12 – 13 June, in London. With sessions covering everything from where to allocate your product innovation investment, to how to bring new products to market effectively, to where your next opportunity is likely to be. There’s really nowhere else in the world where you can access this level of independent, unbiased research specifically designed to help technology providers succeed.

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