Technology companies are seeking to expand their engagement with customers, which is a positive sign coming from the IT market, according to CompTIA. As these companies increase that engagement, it can bring a host of new trends to light.

Speaking at the CompTIA ChannelCon 2018 conference, board members discussed how technology companies are deepening their relationships with all aspects of the business and bringing new tailored solution to the organization. Moving to the cloud and other extensible platforms has also enabled more businesses to leverage their own portfolio and develop more proprietary intellectual property, CompTIA noted in a press release.

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Still, many of these new trends and tools may be difficult to gut check. Here are 10 trends in IT that business leaders should consider:

1. Customer spending

With the current state of the economy, many companies are making longer term investments in technology, the release noted. Some of these investments won’t pay off immediately, but they’ll set the company up for future growth.

2. Voice

Voice-based tools like chatbots and digital assistants are already making an impact in areas such as customer service, the release said. These products can help simplify the user experience for everyday consumers.

3. More options

Customer choice can be a good thing, but it is causing problems for some tech firms. According to the release, a wide portfolio creates confusion around the go-to-market strategy, and can make it hard to figure out which product or service to focus on.

4. Speed to market

“In some instances, the quality of products and services is suffering because the window to bring new solutions to market is as small as it’s ever been,” the release said.

5. What’s old is new

As noted in the release, some firms are moving back toward a break-fix services model to boost the bottom line. This is seen both in “progressive companies that have identified new service niches” and also in companies that have been “challenged by shrinking profit margins in cloud services.”

6. Workforce woes

IT job unemployment is very low (1.9%), and this has led to a growth in job turnover. Certain skill sets are difficult to find, but some leaders are hesitant to invest in training current employees over fear that will make it easier for them to leave the company.

7. State of security

Companies haven’t yet reached a wide consensus on how to implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework. This also impacts customers, who often don’t understand the relative necessity of certain parts of the framework.

8. MSP vs. MSSP

There’s still a lot of confusion regarding the difference between a managed services provider (MSP) and a managed security services provider (MSSP). “Without clear definitions, companies don’t know where they fit in the spectrum, which limits opportunities and clouds focus,” the release said.

9. International scene

Usage-based consumption pricing takes center stage, as companies that launch outside of major economies are modeling their efforts on what happened in the US over the past decade.

10. M&A activity

Merger and acquisition activity remains strong in tech. “But as large rollups occur due to consolidation, there is some concern over the lack of transparency over what happens, or could happen, if private equity dollars disappear,” the release said.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Tech companies are expanding their engagement with customers, which is seen as a sign of a healthy market.
  • The tech market is hard to navigate, but trends like shifting investments, voice, and more will continue to have a big impact.