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Octiv 2018 Predictions: The Future of Salestech in 2018

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by David Kerr, CEO of Octiv

The Future of Salestech in 2018

It's pretty easy to tell that digital transformation is happening in businesses across the world - from the evolution of wet signatures to e-signatures, everything is moving to a virtual world. What should we expect to see in 2018?

Let's talk Microsoft.

They're adding several new offerings, including AI-powered Bing search and better security in order to reach a large majority of their customers in the sales, medical, factory and customer service industries. But will Microsoft step up their game in the world of digital documents and integrations? Short answer: not really. Microsoft's efforts are aimed at centralizing and consolidating the productivity tools already used by front line workers every day, making them easier to access from a fewer number of places. The effect is a simplified experience that can have a profound impact on the kind of productive work that powers the global economy.

You might think about this as tighter, more seamless integration across products within their own proprietary ecosystem. It's the right direction for Microsoft and it's probably their most powerful opportunity to improve the efficiency of work right now. However, they've continued to leave the responsibility for performing that productive work in the hands of the front line worker; they're not introducing the kinds of systems that automate document generation or perform similar productive work on behalf of the worker. Through 2018 and likely the next 2-3 years, Microsoft will continue to rely on best-of-breed third party technologies to innovate in this area, integrate with Microsoft products, and help carry the productive workers burden where Microsoft leaves off. Eventually, Microsoft will reach further into this space and actively partner with those innovators.

What about Google?

Google also recently announced a number of updates to its Slides presentation software, including add-on integrations and several new features. Will Google make any significant changes to keep up with third party service providers? As the demand for digital document generation continues to grow, and collaboration and approval workflows become the expected norm, Google will continue to make changes to keep up with the market demand. These changes will come through integrations and remain a free offering or part of the G-suite business offering, however the product will not be robust enough to meet enterprise needs the way specialized platforms can.

Google will continue to set the bar for ease of use and flexibility in web-based applications. Ultimately the market-defining competitor for Google's productivity suite is Microsoft Office. By remaining free and lightweight, Google gets to slowly nibble away at Microsoft's market share from the bottom up and build momentum for more business users to do their productive work online. This momentum will benefit specialized digital service platforms, influencing expectations toward web-based solutions and creating more opportunities to integrate.

How about small businesses?

There are thousands of tools out there that help businesses make their workforces more efficient and productive without breaking the bank. But when will small and mid-sized businesses begin using more digital document integrations?

Yes, digital documents will become the standard for mid-sized and smaller businesses. They are more cost effective and efficient. Small to mid-sized businesses generally don't have the large workforces or legacy systems that make a change management effort like moving to digital documents as cumbersome as enterprise organizations. While it may be a cost up front to implement the platform and train users, the increased efficiency and bottom line is well worth the investment.

So, what's missing?

Right now the world is still divided into two basic camps; those who perform the majority of their productive work in connected web-based systems online, and those who primarily work in offline file-based applications. This means there are still two basic categories of digital documents: those that are built for the modern internet (web-based, dynamic, mobile-friendly, shareable) and those that are built primarily for an offline world (PDFs and Word files). Some productivity systems attempt to force users into the connected online world before they're ready. Others attempt to bridge the gap by wrapping offline files with online features, but the result is awkward and limited. In 2018, expect to see a dramatic improvement for documents that transition between the web-based experience online and the file-based experience offline where many of today's productive workers continue to live. This is a critical ‘on-ramp' for the offline workforce to leverage the power of modern connectivity and automation with digital documents in ways they never have.

And remember those e-signatures we were talking about earlier? Expect those to permeate big industries in 2018, including real estate, human resources, financial services and home services.

There's no doubt that 2018 will be a huge year for salestech, and businesses owners should pay attention and get on board, or they'll be left behind.


About the Author

David Kerr 

A career entrepreneur with expertise in building and growing businesses, David Kerr brings more than 20 years of experience in executive management, business development, sales and marketing as Octiv's CEO. Before joining Octiv, Kerr served as vice president and general manager of Groupon, and as the general manager of ecommerce for Angie's List. He has also worked with GHX Europe and GHX Mobile Solutions. In his personal time, David stays active, competing in triathlons, cycling and running with his three children.

Published Thursday, January 04, 2018 7:46 AM by David Marshall
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