As 2017 ends, digital transformation has morphed from a trend to a central component of modern business strategy. Digital transformation has become imperative for all businesses – be it automation, logistics, software, retail or medical – the key drivers being profitability, customer satisfaction and increased speed-to-market. Some of the big players such as Cloud, Internet of Things, Analytics, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are being acknowledged and used enterprise wide.
Top trends for Digital Transformation in 2018
According to Gartner, based on the organization, technology trends can be split into three groups – namely intelligent, digital and mesh. Technology will be embedded in everything in the digital business of the future and intelligence will be embedded in everything behind the scenes; while the mix of people, devices, content and services, formulates the intelligent digital mesh.
Let’s look at some of the top trends for Digital Transformation in 2018.
Internet of things
Gartner estimates that more than 8.4 billion “things” are on the internet today, which is a 30% increase from the previous year. The way these “things” can be used once they are connected and supplying valuable data plays a vital role. IoT is the core for major trends namely, analytics, edge computing and 5G processing. Tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM, SAS and SAP are aware of the powerful combination of IoT and analytics in driving new business insights. Gartner predicts that products running on IoT technology with smartphone activation will emerge by the beginning of 2019.
Analytics and Intelligent apps
Over the years every app, service and application will incorporate AI into them. Intelligent apps, help in transforming the nature of work, by creating an intermediary layer between the people and systems, which in turn transforms the structure of the workplace.
With more “things” being connected to the internet, a vast amount of information gets generated by IoT, thereby creating an opportunity for revolutionizing pretty much every industry, including the layout and functioning of entire cities, improving efficiency and profitability.
Edge computing, according to Gartner, is a computing topology that processes, collects and delivers information closer to its source. Cloud and edge computing, in a way complement each other. Cloud computing can be relied on to create a service oriented model, while edge can be used as a delivery style having a centralized control and coordination structure.
Where real time response and processing is the need of the hour, sending information all the way to the cloud becomes highly impractical. Smart devices such as smart drones, autonomous vehicles and other AI powered devices seek to connect and communicate instantly through IoT. This is where edge computing comes in, by processing the data locally and then forwarding it to a central processing or storage repository, thereby reducing latency. IDC predicts that up to 40 % of all computing will happen at the edge in a couple of years.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI will soon move from being a “newbie” to “mainstream”. With the speed at which AI techniques are evolving, organizations will have to strive towards building AI enhanced systems. AI and intelligent things, will bring about a makeover in the business model of the organizations and also enhance the decision-making process, thereby improving the overall customer experience.
A recent Gartner survey showed that around 59% of organizations are still learning techniques and developing AI enhanced systems, while the remaining have already made progress by adopting AI solutions in their business. Major tech companies such as IBM Watson, SAP Leonardo and Salesforce Einstein, have already taken a major leap by embedding AI into their platforms, forcing other companies to sit up and take notice.
The Blockchain is an undeniably ingenious innovation. According to Dan and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016), Blockchain is defined as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value”.
The blockchain database isn’t stored in a single location. Since no centralized version of the information is available it discourages hackers.
Bitcoin, though originally devised for as digital currency, has other undeniable potential uses. The financial industry was the first to grab the opportunity to use this amazing technology; however, other industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and entertainment are not far behind.
The concept of digital twin is not new and thanks to IoT it has become cost effective to implement. A digital twin is a digital representation or a virtual model of a product, process or service, and by pairing the physical and virtual worlds it allows for analyzing data, monitoring systems to head off problems before they even occur, and use simulations to change the way the business operates in the future.
David Cearley of Gartner research states that “over time digital representations of virtually every aspect of our world will be connected to their real-world counterpart.” NASA is one of the first to experiment with this pairing technology. Today NASA uses digital twins to create next generation vehicles and aircraft.
Immersive Experience – Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) & Mixed Reality
AR, VR and mixed reality aim to strengthen the interactions between the enterprise and employee, and the enterprise and consumer. All three technologies have tremendous market opportunities. While VR is the go to option for gaming, employee training and simulation exercises, AR focuses on employee training and simulation exercises, and plays a key role in healthcare and real estate.
Mixed reality, a hybrid form of reality, creates environments in which digital and physical objects can interact. Unlike pure digital experiences, mixed reality experiences are set in the physical world, allowing people to react more emotionally.
Last year Microsoft launched a mixed reality headset called Hololens. At the enterprise level, Hololens enables simplification of training needs on complex and highly technical issues by projecting instructions over real life projects. Many other mixed reality platforms are opening up, focusing on industries such as education, healthcare, manufacturing as well as logistics.
The idea behind conversational platforms is that, instead of the user learning how to communicate with the computer by clicking on icons or using syntax specific commands, it offers the ability for the user to interact, using their own natural language. In short, we are moving from learning to interact with computers to computers learning to interact with us.
The interesting factor of conversational platforms is that they work well everywhere, including smartphones, desktops, smartwatches and even devices without screens such as Amazon Echo. It is also based on the understanding that users are more comfortable sharing personal information such as medical or financial information to a bot than a person, simply because a person might consciously or unconsciously judge their choices, whereas a bot simply performs the requested task or provides information. Two of the conversational platforms that have been wildly successful are Siri from Apple, which acts as a voice assistant, allowing you to do things like play music, open a Wikipedia search, call someone and so on, just by giving commands; and Howdy, a Slackbot that allows users to schedule meetings, work as a notepad and even take lunch orders for your office.
However, the biggest reason why everyone is excited about conversational interfaces is because they have the potential to eliminate any underlying friction that makes it hard for the user to get things done on a computer.
With sophistication and global acceptance on the rise, the scope for businesses and brands to engage and interact with customers is paramount. At the current rate at which technology is advancing, those businesses that do not take the time to advance the manner of doing business, thereby satisfying customer expectations, will inadvertently fall to the bottom of the pack. Change is the only constant in this dynamic world of technology, and Digital Transformation is here to be at the forefront of that change.