This post has been published first in 2 parts on www.marketleadership.net
Up until very recently and the Covid 19 pandemic, I used to advise my clients about strategic digital transformation programs and what digital tools to use to help them in the process. As a visionary, I used to explain new technology such as extended reality, robots or drones and go into detail about the benefits they would bring to their companies.
My approach now remains the same but with the changes we have all experienced, my examples become more real and urgent. Some trends that I see happening in the second half of this year are being pushed forward because people have changed their way of working. I find remarkably interesting that the pandemic has made companies adapt to their human resources where just before it was the other way around. Covid 19 has made all transformations possible.
Once this has been defined and based on my clients’ industry, several technology trends are appearing. Digital transformation is not about digital tools, it is about change management with digital tools coming second. For this post, let us have a look at the trends we see in your world today.
Big Data: In any company, indifferent of the industry, data is the basis of everything. Everyone creates data and everyone should start leveraging their data. Whether you are a small, medium or large company data is key to your operation and success. Therefore, the first thing I advise my clients to invest in is a big data strategy and infrastructure. Data from all sources (CRM, Social networks, photos, videos, emails, ERP, Financial sources, marketing, supply chain platforms, customer support platforms, connected objects… and many more) need to be taken in consideration, stored, organized, analyzed and used for predictive analysis, KPI management, budget consideration and operational needs. Today many providers help with big data strategy. Before you start your project, it is important is to ensure you have a clear vision. What do you want to do? How will it help you to optimize your business? Where would you like to be in 3 to 5 years? What does your product roadmap looks like to ensure your big data structure encompasses your total vision?
From your big data focus, many other activities will follow. For example, if you want to use AI algorithms. The data you will have stored will need to be analyzed by data scientists and models. Schemes will be created taking full advantage of all AI applications.
- One trend that I see which will benefit companies that are just starting to use bigdata and AI is the use of AI as a service: a lot of companies could see the creation, design and deployment of their own AI-based systems as an expensive and complicated proposition (especially if this is not your business). Using AI as a service will allow you to use providers of a service as a platform for all your applications. You will then learn and gain the know-how which later will allow you to have your own personal AI strategy. AI as a service will ensure you simplify feed with your own data and pay for what you use (algorithms and all resources).
- Another trend appearing is XR (Extended Reality) which is a mix of MR (Mixed Reality), VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) -helping to create more immersive and engaging digital experience. All type of businesses will now use these technologies for training and simulation. If customer facing, these businesses will offer new ways to interact with their customers.
- A trend that could benefit all financial actors and others is Blockchain. What is blockchain? According to Wikipedia, A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. In clear, it is a digital ledger used to record secured transactions due to its encrypted and decentralized nature. It is the technology that allows crypto currency for example. Many big companies such as IBM, Wallmart, Fedex, or MasterCard and others have started to use it. Blochain needs data to operate and with your bigdata strategy you will be able to operate all blockchain applications.
- IoT or the Internet of Things (connected objects). Again according to Wikipedia The Internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Depending on your business, if you have factories or if you need your products to be traced or protected, you would need to have an IoT strategy in place. Again, thanks to your bigdata infrastructure, it will be easier to organize this.
- Another trend that would require your investment (financial or resources) is security. This is an issue for all and especially if you start using digital tools more and more. Security comes with large infrastructures as suppliers have mastered this element (even though, it becomes more and more complex). You cannot overlook this trend. Everything you will be starting will need to have security in mind. This is truer now than ever before with your staff working from home and accessing your data remotely. Hackers would enjoy an unattended entrance gate to your server very much.
- And as we conclude the data angle of the trends, one particularly important element is cloud computing. Your servers, applications and databases will need to be in the cloud to ensure compliancy, scalability, easy and fast deployment to a new region, financial advantage (you only pay for what you use), and less headache in maintenance.
We have now seen what trends in terms of data, businesses will face in this second half of 2020. Now we can look at other trends that specific businesses will need to investigate.
The first one is robotics. Industrial robots have been around for a while now. Robots for every day use are starting to emerge. Companies involved in home health care could consider robotic use to ensure an elderly person is looked after properly and messages are sent in case of an emergency, for example. Smart cities and smart applications using robots will be able to offer solutions with high ROI.
Some businesses could also use drones for their operations. As with the example with robots, for any surveillance activity, drones can help. The increase use of drones will see some new activities being brought to market (like package delivering, crowd control, people surveillance…).
3D printing is also an increasing trend and will continue in the coming months as the technology is becoming more affordable and less complicated.
If you are in the mobility business, 5G technology and data networks will be one of your priorities. With high bandwidth, low latency and higher security, companies will be able to publish more applications to ensure mobility becomes smoother, smarter, and more efficient. This will also be the case with autonomous vehicles that some countries like China or the US have started to deploy.
In the healthcare industry, personalized and predictive medicine is key – Technology is helping the healthcare industry to transform fast and efficiently. Wearable devices such as smartwatches, intelligent patches and sensors will give us the ability to increasingly predict and treat health issues in people even before they experience any symptoms. Moreover, countries where the lack of surgeons prevent patients from getting surgery will see surgeons from anywhere in the world perform surgeries remotely with the help of robots. With more personalized and effective treatments, we will ensure better outcome for individual patients.
Finally, computer vision – Computer vision is being used by many more applications today. Production lines employ computer vision cameras to watch for defective products (because the quality of the cameras is so good it can easily detect flaws) or equipment failures. Security cameras will be able to alert to anything out of the ordinary (emergency, crowd control, security watch…) and it would not require 24/7 monitoring thanks to AI algorithms managing the processes.
I realize and understand that with this incredibly challenging world, digital transformation is not a top priority. However, I believe this is a mistake. All programs that I manage ensure this is done in an intelligent way. Companies should not invest large amounts of money or resources in new programs. They need to do it gradually. At all times, Key Performance Indicators are put in place to ensure that if the project does not deliver what is expected, there is always time to pivot, improve and optimize. The priority needs to be with an optimization of what is currently available. This is why I always start my projects with an audit of what exists, moving to what is expected to match the company’s vision and finally a roadmap of what needs to be invested in terms of financial, human and digital resources.
I can help you with your overall vision and ensure you will deliver on time and within budget. My role as a technology visionary and digital transformation expert is to ensure you build a solid company for the foreseeable future. This means that financially and in terms of technology your company will be performant in the long term, and it will have loyal employees who have embarked and engaged on your transformation project. Together we can build a strategy that will have a lasting impact on customer engagement, operations and financial optimization, people management improvement, and compliance.