Businessperson in Time Machine Zooming Off to the Future

Future of Digital Transformation

Businesses continues to rapidly evolve. Discover what the future of digital transformation holds, and how you can stay ahead of the curve.

Businessperson in Time Machine Zooming Off to the Future

Table of Content

    “The only constant is change,” may be a worn-out cliche, but it perfectly captures the current (and likely, future) state of digital transformation.

    A 2021 IDC analyst brief summed it up pretty well, noting that we’ve reached a critical turning re: digital transformation. It wasn’t that long ago (we’re talking: 2019) that digital transformation was largely about self-preservation, disruption, and making plans for the future.

    DX wasn’t exactly optional, but orgs did have more time to get ready for the next digital era – and in many cases, plan DX initiatives several years in advance.

    As we close out 2022, the tides have turned in a big way. Accenture experts put it best in a recent report, calling this an “an era of post-traumatic growth.”

    You’ve got businesses, still reeling from early COVID shutdowns, struggling to navigate a chaotic and complex landscape, while also trying to make plans for a future that promises to serve up more of the same – only with higher stakes, faster speeds, and way more pressure.

    Given the current state of things, it’s completely understandable that DX leaders are embracing this kind of “doomsday prepper mentality,” using technology to prepare for all future possibilities – including scenarios humanity has never before seen.

    Embrace and Plan for Uncertainty

    When it comes to digital transformation, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing.”

    The problem is, while most business leaders understand that uncertainty is our new reality, many struggle to define what it’ll take to keep up with the rapid rate of change.

    This so-called “new normal” isn’t some fixed state we’ll eventually settle into for good. It’s better to think of it as a new org-wide mindset. You’re trying to get to a place where everyone in your company accepts and anticipates rapid change – whether good, bad, or totally unexpected – is as part of the daily routine.

    If you want to win the future economy, you’ll need to take things even further and build your entire strategy around this idea that uncertainty is the only thing you can count on.

    Experts at the World Economic Forum say modern digital culture is all about flexibility. So, you’ll need to make sure you have the infrastructure and strategy to support a more adaptable approach. But your main focus should be preparing your workforce to take quick action as new opportunities, barriers, or scenarios reveal themselves – and making sure that you’re providing the structure and support people need to thrive in these conditions.

    Companies are looking for ways to innovate faster – investing in citizen development and data science initiatives, as well as productivity apps and automated solutions that allow them to do more with fewer resources.

    Industry cloud platforms are also gaining traction due to their ability to accelerate the development and deployment of industry-specific solutions. These platforms combine traditional cloud services with industry-specific functionality, allowing companies to leverage pre-packaged capabilities, composability tooling, and integrated data fabric.

    According to a 2022 Gartner survey 40% of participants said their organizations were already using industry cloud platforms, while another 15% told analysts they had pilots in progress – aiming for full-scale deployment by 2026.

    Additionally, we’re seeing increased investments in proprietary solutions. Per a recent internal survey of our clients, 73% of organizations are currently using next-gen technologies to develop first-party IP: with machine learning (39%), IoT (37%), AI (32%), and blockchain (29%) representing the lion’s share of those investments.

    Proprietary solutions improve agility and resilience – offering more control and flexibility of how IP and the data it generates is monetized, used, and protected.

    In turn, you’re able to eliminate the risks of relying on third-party solutions. Think – breaches, bottlenecks, and data loss when accounts are canceled and services shut down.

    Big Data and AI Strategies Need to Grow Up Fast

    More organizations are embracing solutions like automation, predictive insights, and AI/ML scenario planning to meet these challenges and prepare for future unknowns.

    And, that’s great. It’s just… getting to the point where you can use these technologies to drive specific outcomes involves so much more than implementation and a few video tutorials.

    See, while most leaders understand that data maturity is a prerequisite for transformation, most data and AI strategies have a lot of growing up to do.

    Per IBM, two-thirds of all business data isn’t being leveraged. That means, companies are sitting on a wealth of valuable insights doing nothing but eating storage space, wasting time, and putting their business and customers at risk.

    For example, something like intelligent asset management can’t happen unless you’ve already achieved data maturity. You need access to real-time predictive insights – but more importantly, you need to be sure employees know exactly how to use those insights to respond immediately with full assurance their actions will produce certain results.

    According to Deloitte, becoming an “AI-fueled organization is the best way to unlock value and achieve high-level business objectives. Though, only about a third of business leaders surveyed say they’ve adopted leading operational practices.

    Digital transformation demands organizations to reimagine how they run their business. Analysts advise leading with business requirements, not data scientist discoveries, to ensure that AI strategies align with actual business requirements and long-term strategic goals.

    Organizations also tend to see more success when they make significant changes to workflows, processes, and roles.

    And, finally, Deloitte experts emphasize that leading orgs use MLOps – a set of practices for managing machine learning models. MLOps ensure that models stay aligned with goals, deliver anticipated outcomes, and that AI is used responsibly.

    Sustainability Becomes a Core Pillar of Digital Transformation

    Amid historic wildfires, flooding, drought, and record-setting heat waves, sustainability has solidified its place in the enterprise transformation strategy, becoming an urgent priority, for literally all of us, even orgs with no obvious “green angle.”

    Business leaders across all industries are recognizing that sustainable DX is more than branding, it’s a matter of survival.

    For example, auto companies like Ford and Toyota are shifting their focus toward electric vehicles – as bans on gas-powered cars could soon become reality. Similarly, oil and gas companies have been quietly forming strategic partnerships with alternative energy companies for years

    According to Accenture, 2022 has been a turning point, marking the end of so-called “abundance thinking,” which describes a collective mindset based on speed, convenience, and availability – qualities touted as the reason internet juggernauts like Amazon, Uber, Facebook, and Google dominate the tech space.

    Now that we’re reckoning with supply shortages, inflation, and a warming planet, analysts say that more companies are adopting a “new austerity.”

    They’ll need to think outside the box to tackle new pain points while also meeting customer expectations re: speed, convenience, availability, and sustainability. And, naturally, they’ll need the right tech to strike a balance between competing goals and reliably turn a profit.

    Like all DX projects, sustainability transformations begin with identifying a data-backed use case. Forrester’s ROI of Sustainability report emphasizes that this is a crucial step toward gaining decision-maker buy-in.

    It allows you to evaluate the potential impact of a proposed initiative on a holistic level. Examining how it might impact customers or decisions about sourcing raw materials or breaking off partnerships with “climate villains.”

    It also makes it easier to set clear goals, define KPIs, and align sustainability objectives with harder metrics like ROI, growth, and net profits.

    Here’s a basic framework (from the Forrester report) you can use to perform a structured analysis of sustainability investments and opportunities.

    Sustainability Investments Diagram
    Source https://go.forrester.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Forrester-The-ROI-Of-Sustainability_NA.pdf

    Organizations Must Prioritize the Human Experience on a Much Larger Scale

    The idea that investing in technologies that enhance the human experience is good for the bottom line is old news. What’s changed, however, is the scope.

    Where “human experience” was once confined to the boundaries of the customer journey or the employee workday, it’s morphing into something more expansive that considers the impact actions, strategies, and solutions have on user well-being – and society as a whole.

    As an example, more companies are investing in multi-sensory design, an empathetic approach aimed at addressing the full range of ways that users may experience or respond to products, services, and brand interactions.

    One of the best-known examples of this is incorporating accessibility standards on your website and other communication channels – as well as in any digital products and service offerings.

    You might also look for opportunities to provide training materials, content, or share expert insights in new formats. Think – voice assistant apps, podcasting, or providing support on more channels to accommodate a wider range of needs and preferences.

    But — you’ll also want to start thinking about how, say, the metaverse might be used to deepen your relationship with customers. For example, if you’re already using AR to train field service techs or allow shoppers to “try on” clothing in a virtual dressing room, how might innovations in the metaverse make those experiences better?

    End-user well-being and safety are also becoming top priorities – companies like TikTok have incorporated features such as opt-ins for results containing triggering content, expanded search interventions, and guidance for dealing with troubling trends such as groups promoting pro-eating disorder content.

    The second part of this treads into more existential waters. As technology becomes more powerful (and more dangerous), more business leaders are weighing ethical implications against financial interest, risk, and forecasted demand when making decisions about future initiatives.

    Tech offers all promise and possibility, but we’ve seen how quickly blind optimism sours into something far more sinister like the labor issues linked to app-based gig work, biased algorithms, and the real-world damage brought on Facebook’s misinformation problem.

    Innovations like lab-grown meat, robot surgeons, and algorithms saddled with heavy responsibilities like processing insurance claims, predicting patient outcomes, and decisions about hiring and firing workers – all of which could result in disastrous outcomes for actual people.

    Demand for responsible, ethical, and explainable AI is on the rise – helping companies enforce transparency and best practices, while also allowing them to embed safeguards directly into the code.

    Increasingly, organizations face major ethical questions that must consider the implications of their solutions from all possible angles. So, in this case, developers might look toward solutions that use ML to model different scenarios and run multivariate analyses to determine which decisions will produce the best possible outcome.

    Final Thoughts

    Look, we understand why there’s so much anxiety about digital transformation, the business landscape, and the price of rapid innovation.

    Abstract concepts like “post-traumatic growth,” “post-truth era,” and “algorithmic bias,” when combined with the more tangible factors shaping our reality – climate change, inflation, war, and a lingering global pandemic offer little reassurance that things are getting better.

    It’s easy to walk away with the impression that we’re fast approaching “peak dystopia,” the trends we’ve outlined above point toward something more hopeful. There’s a widespread desire to use technology for good.

    As we enter the final stretch of 2022, it’s time to get serious about what’s next for your digital transformation journey. And crucially, how you might use technology in a way that’s more ethical, sustainable, and human-centric – yet still aligned with critical business objectives.

    Velosio’s Digital NEXT Roadmap is designed to streamline the tech upgrades you need to optimize business processes and win in the digital age. Contact us today to get in touch with a digital transformation expert.

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