Find out the biggest issues facing midmarket IT leaders and what the future holds for this robust segment of the U.S. economy.

There are some big questions looming for those consuming and selling midmarket technology solutions in the coming year. Yes, I know everyone wants answers, but below we assembled some of the biggest questions and issues facing CIOs, senior IT leaders, and the tech suppliers in this segment, which represents about one-third of the nation’s GDP.

1. When will the digital transformation take place?

This is the most obvious question. There have been countless presentations on this subject, along with myriad articles on this very subject. At some point—maybe next year—most midmarket companies will have been, well, transformed. But there seems no end in sight in this ongoing saga. Some tech historians relate this to the “Year of the LAN” which was supposed to take place in the 80s or 90s and no one is sure when it actually happened. Either way, we asked one CIO to describe what digital business means to his company. He replied, “blah, blah, blah.” Look for plenty more marketing talk about the transformation, which has no end in sight. Maybe that’s good for all of us come to think of it.

2. Will we see more CIOs assume higher business leadership roles?

This change is taking place faster than digital transformation as more IT leaders focus on business skills development. However, diversifying the ranks of upper management with more tech-savvy execs has a long way to go. This is an important question because the future of so many midmarket companies depends on how they deploy technology solutions, particularly public cloud.

3. Who will emerge as the next big midmarket tech vendor?

HPE has staked out this space, establishing itself as an industry leader for nearly the past decade. The company has high-level executives focused on serving the midmarket with specially developed solutions, pricing, and a loyal following. While there are many smaller innovators like Scale Computing that have targeted the midmarket, many larger vendors are leaving money on the table in this customer segment. It will be interesting to see if the likes of VMware, Dell EMC, Cisco, or Microsoft double down in the midmarket next year to grow share.

4. Which emerging tech vendor will burst upon the midmarket scene grabbing the attention of senior IT leaders?

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the emergence of hot new companies like Cognos, TriGeo, SimpliVity, and Scale debut at the Midsize Enterprise Summit capturing the minds and wallets of midmarket CIOs. Right now, it is too early to tell, but we could see the next hot midmarket brand emerge in security, SD-WAN, AI or IoT. Three of those companies mentioned above were purchased by large IT vendors with Scale recently attracting a huge investment from Lenovo. This proves the midmarket remains a lucrative place to focus for IT vendors.

5. Will the midmarket remain hot or cool down?

Over the past few years, investment, employment, sales, and profits in the midmarket have been on a tear based on economic data and analysis from the National Center for the Midmarket at The Ohio State University. In our conversations with CIOs who are setting budgets for 2019 and asking senior management for tech investment, there are no signs of a slowdown or pullback. Third-quarter revenue in the midmarket surged nearly 9 percent higher vs. the year earlier, the center reported. Based on a survey of 1,000 midmarket companies, three out of five will continue to experience revenue growth over the next 12 months. We are not economists by any means, but the trend of growth in the midmarket seems to be heading in the right direction for the coming year. Read the full third-quarter report from the NCMM.

This may come across as a shameless plug, but over the past decade, the answers to most of these questions above can be found at the Midsize Enterprise Summit. It is a gathering of midmarket CIOs and senior IT leaders who can illuminate what the future holds for this segment along with the challenges and opportunities.