We thought 2017 was tough, but 2018 has arguably taken the prize for one of the toughest years the channel has experienced.

Lorna Hardie, regional director: southern Africa of VMware Africa, offers her opinion on the pressing questions facing the channel as we move into 2019.


What does 2019 hold in store for us? Will it be another tough 12 months, or is the industry and channel starting to emerge from the doldrums?

To respond to this I guess we really need to look at the economic climate overall.

While the available data indicates the economic climate in South Africa remained in the doldrums over the last year, analysts do anticipate the country to see some economic recovery into 2019 on the back of the governments stimulus plan.

Effectively what this means to our channel is that, with investor confidence on a slow rise, we can expect a strengthening in both confidence as well as the local currency and in the IT sector specifically as this is predominantly US dollar-based will lead to the same amount of budget stretching further.

However, in some ways the economic recession has created a need for new ways to adapt to the stretch, this has resulted in a strong trend towards customers looking and questioning their spend more intensely while looking at ways to enable them to take on new projects to differentiate themselves in the market.

One key trend that we have seen is that customers are looking towards opex based models to allow them to drive innovation and derisk investing in startup projects.


Can we expect more of the same in terms of technology, or are we going to see even more innovative technology coming down?

There is no question that the pace of innovation and more specifically digital innovation increasing – there is also no question that Innovation can only continue to increase with the prospects businesses are provided today driven by the likes of machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

At the end of the day these innovations are driving the amount of data that is being generated and the pace it is being generated is feeding the opportunity to re-invent or disrupt business models on a continuous basis.


What will the dominant trends for the year be, and where should companies be looking to make revenue?

Digital innovation is driving an increasingly hyper-connected world with higher than ever consumer expectations that match this. This is driving advances in cloud, mobile, IoT and AI as well as blockchain.

This, in turn, drives a need for a digital innovation foundation that allows businesses to get information to where they need to, and where it counts, faster, securely and in a cost effective, simple way.


How should companies be gearing up and what strategies should they be adopting?

At the end of the day adopting this disruptive innovation while keeping the “lights on” is challenging. Organisations need to consider as a result a number of factors including how they can allow traditional and cloud-native applications to  move freely and securely across infrastructure to where they are needed.

That means from the data centre to the cloud, to the edge, to the device and into the hands of the users, and then back again.

This requires an approach that moves away from inflexible product silos and silo-based management thinking, and towards looking at a platform that will allow them to “run all things”, for instance old apps, new apps, anywhere you like.


And just how will the market and its major players shape up as it continues to evolve quicker than ever?

At the end of the day, the market and its players, really do not have the option not to shape up, disruption is everywhere and as a result if you continue to do the same thing in the same way you cannot expect to remain relevant.