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What’s Next: 10 Things to Know About the Future of Digital Transformation

March 6, 2018 | Posted by Lisa Carolan
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The need for a strong focus on customer insight is driving every organization’s approach to digital transformation across B2B and B2C sectors. That focus can be seen in the recent PwC 2017 Digital IQ Report showing that 82 percent of top performing companies pay attention to the human experience surrounding digital tech. 

To make this transformation possible, organizations are seeking tools that improve the understanding of their customer base, individual segment needs and individual consumers through personalization. Acquiring this level of insight calls for new ways to gather, aggregate and analyze data to inform organizations on the pulse of their customers.  

True digital transformation that delivers value and drives revenue isn't necessarily a simple matter. For example, businesses will need to re-invent portions of their operations including core technology systems, operating processes and business models. This will pave the way for the digital transformation that will require the use of AI, IoT, VR/AR and blockchain in innovative ways. To that end, here are 10 things to know about the future of digital transformation based on that approach. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Trend #1: Consumers will interact less with Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), as more AI interfaces provide natural language inputs and outputs that make decisions and check for errors on behalf of users.  

Beyond "conversational" interfaces such as Siri and Alexa, AI is moving into every product and process across the customer experience (CX) value chain. It is in the best interest of businesses to focus on AI's ability to deliver the continuous transformation necessary for meeting evolving customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) needs. That ability can be seen in the core components of AI systems, which include: 

  • Sensing input via text, voice, image, video or data triggers from systems 

  • Data comprehension components that discern semantic data meaning from visual and audible sources 

  • Analysis via algorithm components that leverage data sets for actionable responses 

  • Guidance to ensure high accuracy for suggested actions 

  • A clear method of action, which may simply mean communicating the "answer' to the user or taking an automatic action. 

Trend #2. Over the next few years every application and service will incorporate AI at some level across front-end and back-end business systems, consumer facing portals and devices. (CompTIA Brief)  

Trend #3. One-quarter of companies use AI in applications targeted to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, digital assistants, and IT infrastructure (CompTIA Brief). 

Trend #4. More than 50 percent of enterprises will spend more on creating chatbots than traditional mobile app development by 2021. (Gartner) 

Trend #5. Edge computing will take the place of sending data to the cloud as AI-powered devices require real-time responses via a faster connection and direct communication in IOT systems.  

IoT, Blockchain and AR/VR 

Trend #6: IoT technology will be in 95 percent of products by 2020 

Internet of things (IoT) is now showing actual business ROI via successful implementation in  manufacturing, telecom, energy and many others B2B  and B2C sectors. This is evident in how it connects the broader business ecosystem by delivering valuable insights and strategies based on real-time data. It's no surprise that a recent McKinsey report projects the economic benefits of the IoT to reach between $3.9 trillion and $11.1 trillion within the next decade.  

Blockchain has also become a key component of digital transformation by providing a holistic approach to securing and simplifying all types of transactions. This can be seen financial relationships, but also in more varied types of transactions.  

Many businesses are still learning about the technology behind blockchain What is important to focus on initially is how its overall framework provides greater transaction security, accountability and regulatory compliance. Additional important benefits that can't be overlooked include greater transaction consistency, reduced costs and time delays, improved quality, and reduced risk. 

Trend #7: Blockchain will play a role in how devices will communicate directly between each other. In essence, this can be seen in its ability to deliver ledger keeping that provides a trail of interactions, their locations as well as devices (in the case of tagged goods).  

This is the vital link to enabling peer-to-peer contractual behavior without the need for third-party IoT transaction certification. The goal of blockchain use is greater security, privacy, consistency, and scalability bolstered by time stamping and the elimination of any single point of failure. 

Trend #8.43 percent of business professionals said blockchain is making the largest impact in enterprise digital transformation efforts. (CompTIA Brief) 

Trend #9. Currently, one in five companies has a VR/AR initiative underway with half of early adopters are using VR/AR in customer engagements. (CompTIA Brief) 

Although VR has hit some roadblocks in user interface design, the merger of AR/VR is finally providing practical tools and broader uses. The practical applications can already be seen across manufacturing and business settings with everything from data visualization, manufacturing process support and of course consumer and retail kiosk use. Examples of some of the growing list of uses are the focus of a recent end gadget article. 

The Intersection of AI, IoT, VR/AR and Blockchain in Digital Transformation 

Trend #10. AR, VR, AI, IoT and even blockchain will begin to merge as their maturity delivers refined tools and interfaces that can meet evolving UX needs. That maturity and growth can be seen in a recent DATAVERSITY trends article while this IoT Institute article focuses on practical uses. 

While a recent CompTIA research studies brief shows how these five technologies are driving  digital transformation, their integration still presents challenges for businesses. That being said, businesses that fail to begin experimenting, incorporating and innovating with these technologies today will find that they cannot compete in the coming decade. The key is to  embrace this transformation driving improved UX, operational workflows and product/ service innovations that will bring business growth today and tomorrow. 

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