Cyberattacks, automation, and blockchain are just a few of the key areas that will continue to be top of mind for business leaders in 2019. Over the past year, we saw an unprecedented number of sophisticated security events and data breaches. We also saw innovation in AI and robotics continue to accelerate while people remained skeptical of the lasting impact of automation. Additionally, blockchain proved that it was here to stay and has the potential to power digital transformation across many industries. All in all, this brings us to another exciting, yet challenging technology crossroads.
Here at Norwest, we are optimistic that 2019 will usher in a new class of startups and emerging technologies that will continue to shake up the playing field and iron out problems that small and large enterprises face every day. We surveyed a few portfolio company executives and Norwest partners to see what they expect in 2019. Here’s what they said:
Matthew Howard, General Partner, Norwest Venture Partners “Applied AI will be a focus in 2019 in areas such as security and process automation. We will see a new wave of security companies using AI and machine learning to combat the next level of breaches, spear-phishing and ransomware. Long gone are the days of implementing a secure firewall and assuming everything is protected. Enterprises need to embrace proactive vs. reactive security measures. In the back-office, mundane processes such as data entry, managing IT support tickets, and invoice processing will be automated freeing up humans for higher value work. The most successful companies will target tasks that are highly repeatable, manual, and costly.”
Rosanne Saccone, Chief Marketing Officer, BlueJeans “I think this year will be defined by products that solve immediate challenges and provide quick and sustained returns. There are times when an organization can be more patient, but not right now. The geopolitical trade conditions have put pressure on businesses in every sector and there is no room for products or partners that don’t solve tangible business pain points. Real technology, not hyped up trends, will win the sales and contracts in 2019.”
Jerome Dubois and Rylan Hamilton, Co-CEOs and Co-Founders, 6 River Systems “Retailers will own less of their own supply chain and look to suppliers for “physical cloud” services. Storage space will become a commodity and there will be mass optimization of where goods are stored and how they are shipped. There will be a consolidation of warehouse providers with major ‘physical cloud providers’ emerging.”
Scott Beechuk, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners “I expect one or more major breakthroughs in blockchain network and infrastructure in 2019. Lack of performance, security, and privacy have stunted the adoption of public blockchain technologies at scale. A small number of great companies who solve these foundational challenges have the potential to become gigantic global organizations with staying power.”
Jason Schmitt, CEO, Aporeto “In the fast-moving DevOps and cloud-native enterprise, legacy security approaches are losing relevance. More organizations will adopt Zero Trust programs that assume infrastructure could be compromised at any time. They will secure their applications, network, and data by authentication, authorization and encrypting all communication between applications. In this global whitelist model, even if a server is compromised with malware, the malware can’t talk to your applications because it’s not explicitly authorized.”
Rama Sekhar, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners “AI and machine learning hype will cool off in 2019 as the legit AI companies rise to the top and those who’ve been faking it get exposed. The AI companies best poised to emerge as leaders in 2019 will be those that are applying AI to solve a real-world business problem, and those that can establish proprietary access to data, the critical ingredient to effective AI. Customers will continue to get savvier about AI, making next year a tough road for vendors that have simply slapped the AI bumper sticker on older goods.”
Jon Miller, CEO, Engagio “We will see a dramatic change in how companies think about the role of marketing. 15 years ago, people thought marketing was the group that threw parties and made color brochures. Then tools like Marketo came along and helped marketing take a seat at the revenue table as a key driver of pipeline. But even today, most companies think marketing’s job ends once the opportunity is created; they don’t think marketing can or should support pipeline acceleration or post-sale expansion. In 2019, we will start to see the role of marketing expand to include not only business pipeline creation, but also a focus on driving the cross-sell and expansion opportunities that are so critical for ‘land and expand’ businesses.
Sean Jacobsohn, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners “Most of the innovation in software has focused on serving the salaried worker, leaving 78 million hourly workers behind. Although it’s the largest workforce in America, hourly workers remain one of the groups most underserved by technology. Attrition with hourly workers can run as high as 100% per year and the labor market is tightening, which will lead companies to more aggressively invest in technology in 2019 that engages and retains hourly employees effectively.”
Ray Hein, CEO, Propel “The category of PLM is increasingly moving to the cloud. Being the 4th largest category of software, it has been largely unwatched and underinvested in until recently. In 2019 20% of all product companies will adopt cloud PLM systems as a competitive advantage – especially the “newcos”. Companies that are driving innovation and digital transformation programs are using the cloud to develop and commercialize new products. The key reasons for the movement to the cloud include; increased pressure to collaborate globally to improve the success of product launches, legacy, on-premise, PLM companies’ applications don’t meet the millennial user experience expectations and improved transparency across the whole value chain. The most progressive companies are including everyone in their new product introduction process from “concept-to-customer” to increase the likelihood of a commercially successful product in a highly competitive market, ridiculously faster than their competitors, and the cloud is the only way to make that a reality.”