The fourth quarter is a good time to summarize the events of the rest of the year and to consider how the hottest technologies and business strategies of the 21st century will develop. In the first part of our mini-series about trends for 2019, we will cover the most important directions that leaders will take in the next year to successfully carry out the process of Digital Transformation. We will also discuss the growing popularity of tools and activities that significantly accelerate it.
In recent years, it is difficult to find a hotter and more commented topic at the intersection between technology and business than Digital Transformation (DX).
It might be annoying to hear this over and over again, but the successful adaptation of companies to the new reality created by the rapid development of technology is REALLY one of the biggest challenges in the business world today. The stakes are high: to keep up with a market where the consumer is the king.
According to IDC, worldwide spending on DX will grow to nearly USD 2 trillions in 2019. Over 70% of companies admit that they already have a strategy to operate in this area, or work on its creation. However, the strategy is just the beginning of a long way to success.
Why is digital transformation so tedious and difficult?
There are several reasons:
- The market is changing very dynamically. There is a steady supply of new devices and solutions that improve the life and comfort of users in every sphere. The forms and channels of communication are also evolving. Companies must constantly adapt to the growing requirements of their clients.
- The larger the structure requiring changes, the more complex and long-lasting the process.
- Each company takes a separate route to Digital Transformation and their paths are as diverse as the business profiles, processes and technologies used.
Taking this into consideration, there is no one single solution for the challenges of Digital Transformation. However, there are activities that, given the experience of other companies, can serve as universal signposts.
Let’s examine these and evaluate their role in 2019.
1. Data aggregation and visualization
Data is the oil of the twenty-first century, as the British mathematician Clive Humby once said. Today we know that this sentence should read:
Digital Transformation changes the world of processes into a world based on data, so without comprehensive collection and analysis of information from the environment and from within a company, we can’t really talk about it.
Although there are many obstacles, including the integration of data collection systems, companies have already begun to accomplish it to one degree or another. The fact that the end-to-end approach is possible shows companies like Microsoft a look into the future in its stores and factories.
The challenge and the trend of 2019 will be to achieve the appropriate aggregation and visualization of the collected data, because their mere possession does not give business benefits.
A helping hand in this field comes from platforms equipped with Artificial Intelligence algorithms. It allows brands to process millions of pieces of information in real time, group them, segment and present on well-designed dashboards.
The next year will be a year of improvement of these systems and adding new functions, like voice assistants who will help to perform the requested operation on the data.
2. Building data-driven teams
About data and how to collect it, let’s find out how companies can use it to change organizational culture and the way of making decisions. Unfortunately, many decisions are still made based on intuition and experience. Experience, which is very valuable from the management point of view, ceases to bring the assumed effects.
That’s because it is based on knowledge from the past, and the present changes very quickly. If there is no iteration but only the conviction that something has been achieved by following conventional methods, innovation will come to a stop.
Therefore, in 2019, organizations should try to make the switch to a management model based on hard data obtained from various systems and sources. To do this, start with the basics: first of all, from the understanding of the idea by the management staff, and training and activation of employees towards critical thinking.
Remember that people carry out the Digital Transformation, but they are often insufficiently equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to work it out. At the very beginning it often looks like robots playing soccer, but be patient 🙂
Human curiosity and critical thinking are needed to identify the main problems that Artificial Intelligence and data can then help to solve another challenge. Data acquired by AI systems often must go through gatekeepers who filter it through an understanding of the business context and the various conditions affecting the company’s operation.
Not all data will be used for further action. We recommend reading Tomas Chamorro-Premuzica’s article in Harvard Business Review, in which he gives you three simple tips on how to be more data-driven.
3. Cooperation and cooperation again
In the process of Digital Transformation, cooperation between people is just as important as the synergy with technology. Despite this, as shown by the results of studies carried out by MIT Sloan Management Review in the largest companies, the CEO is the main focus of the Digital Transformation. What is more, the impact on marketing and operational departments is marginal.
In 2019, it will be necessary to develop a model that engages all business divisions equally. For example, focusing on the technology itself, even if it is expertly designed and implemented, may obscure other necessary organizational changes that will jointly bring business value.
On the other hand, focusing only on the board’s vision may result in the difficulty of selecting the appropriate solutions for the existing infrastructure. Marketing, armed with the latest analytical tools, should also have much more to say regarding this.
4. Automation of customer service 2.0
After these points regarding methods of operation and management style, let’s focus on the technology and its impact on the improvement of business processes.
Does this look familiar to you?
Forget about it. In 2019, we forecast the further development of chatbots and other technologies that automate customer service, an important element in the Digital Transformation of companies. According to Spiceworks, 40% of large companies plan to implement their own chatbots in 2019.
This will not be a revolution, but a gradual evolution towards the target. A new generation of chatbots will be able to identify the emotions of the people writing to them and adapt their communication accordingly, with their knowledge updated in real time thanks to integration with omnichannel platforms.
The development of speech processing will enable us to not only communicate with voice solutions such as Alex or Siri, but with each virtual assistant in the web, for example in a health food or furniture e-commerce. However, this will not happen next year.
5. Even stronger personalization
A strong trend in 2019 will be even more emphasis on the personalization of the customer experience. We already know that this strategy works well in business, so it will be further developed to create the ideal conditions to convert customers.
Not only individual campaigns will be personalized, but entire websites, so that the customer will feel that the brands speak to them as individuals.
A special role in personalization will be played by Artificial Intelligence. Companies will be able to receive and analyze all signals from all channels of communication with clients in real time.
Add knowledge about shopping histories and habits, and you can offer each customer dedicated products and experiences. Thanks to AI, demographic, behavioral and historical data will be combined and give added value not only to companies, but also directly to customers.
Companies wanting to lead in the Digital Transformation will also try to implement zero-touch-automation model of the entire customer purchase path in addition to the personalization based on Artificial Intelligence.
6. New technologies are knocking on the door
2019 will bring more than just the further development of technologies based on Artificial Intelligence. It will also be the year of dawn of the 5G technology and an increased demand for blockchain technology.
The Internet of Things, augmented reality and autonomous vehicles will become mature technologies. Business must be aware of the continuous development of the market and formulate a well-thought-out strategy for new technologies in order to know how to find and be ready to respond to every signal.
Another interesting technological trend are mixed or multiclouds, since previous experience shows that one type of cloud cannot meet the needs of all companies. Therefore, there will be more and more situations in which public, private and hybrid clouds are operated by one company. We will definitely keep an eye on the further development of this phenomenon.
The best way to Digital Transformation…
…leads through the introduction of modern IT systems and solutions, such as Artificial Intelligence, but changing current world views and management styles is also key. This is why both business and technology figure prominently in trends shaping Digital Transformation.
Only cooperation between business and technology can guarantee a successful transformation, as shown by examples from all over the business world. It’s great to have a plan but flexibility is vital in an environment where progress comes through iterations and technology marches forward.
To succeed, digital leaders should share their experiences and learn from the examples of others.