The discussion of digital transformation or technology transformation started more than a decade ago. We are now in the second generation of transformation, and the most encouraging part of it is to see that technology is taking a back-seat. Today’s digital transformation is not only about the technological transition, but it is also about an organisational transformation empowered by technology, business, and people.
Customers, culture and employees and business continuity are all at the heart of digital transformation successes. It is about creating a holistic experience for the end user. In simple words, the future of transformation is about experience.
Let us look at some of the most discussed concepts going around since the last couple of years.
A misunderstood and often overused as a term. Forget everything magical everyone ever said about blockchain. As most of us on this side of the table and most of the organisations continue to be in awe of this concept, we have come to realise that blockchain is kind of a mess. It is too niche, closed and complicated for lay people to use for some real, every day and experience-enhancing applications right now.
Everyone is trying to use it their own way. In the process, it looks like everyone wants to create their own blockchain framework, which in my opinion is against the fundamental idea of the blockchain. The only logical way to get mass blockchain adoption is to create a plug-and-play version that all of us can use and understand.
Organisations need to be open for collaborations and cross-integration for a true blockchain implementation that is useful for users. However, to this point, it seems more of a marketing ploy than a matured technology decision.
So, in 2019, as many organisations will continue to work on realising the potential of the blockchain, I am of the mindset that it will be two to three more years before we start to see the traction that it once promised.
Chatbots and virtual assistants
In our personal lives, we have become comfortable with the idea of conversational interaction which is now moving to a variety of systems ranging from mobile devices to thermostats to automobiles. It is supposed to be a very natural way to interact with systems, both with voice and chat.
Today it is still work in progress. The good news is that many developments are happening in this field. Natural language processing, conversational UI and sentiment analytics. One study shows that natural language processing will shake up the entire service industry in ways we have never imagined.
Think about the services that can be rendered without humans — such as fast food lines, loan processors, job recruiters! Some predict that 40% of large businesses would have or would be adopting natural language processing in their operations by the end of 2019.
Empathy, human emotion, and experience are still at the core of any service. So, although machines may be good at delivering requests, they still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to dealing with empathy and human emotion.
Data, analytics, machine learning
Data and insights have been at the core of any transformation as a whole. And it is not a new trend at all. Data has always been a key to companies being able to make decisions about products, services, employees, strategy and more. The form of this data and the formats have changed over the last few years. So, we will not see a slowdown anytime soon. We have created 90% of the world’s data in the past year, but we are only using 1% of the data effectively.
Old ways of looking at data are not going to help us anymore. More and more of our digital transformation engagements with clients are starting with major data engineering exercises. It is about breaking the so-called big data into small but actionable insights. A lot of data in organisations is not structured appropriately for analysis. They have data they do not need, and need data they do not have.
As technology innovations continue to evolve, it is impossible to ignore that data is key to making lucrative business decisions. There is much to be done about promoting data to be built into meaningful business analytics and realising the full potential of the data being collected.
Using enhanced processing power to increase machine learning, digital leaders will invest more of their data with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Investment into data, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence could grow the amount of data being used effectively by 3 or 4 times.
Virtual and augmented reality
Will virtual reality stay on or will it stagnate in 2019? I am starting to feel bad for virtual reality because it appears so cool, but it has just not been feasible beyond gaming and highly specialised applications in today’s marketplace. Most of the applications you see around for virtual reality are forced rather than being natural and seamless. Even the demand is not growing at a pace it was supposed to.
Mixed reality on the other hand which combines augmented reality and virtual reality—continues to be the name of the game in 2019 digital transformation trends. It has found tons of use cases in enterprise workforce training, and it is not just cool, it is useful. And that is what technology is supposed to do. There are even rumors that we will hear something about a new augmented reality or mixed reality product and developer kit from Apple soon.
Lack of compatibility, dependence on hardware, cost and customer apathy are some of the factors that this concept is fighting with. So, we will see it maturing into a new generation of virtual reality, which is more standard across platforms and surely at a lower cost which could then change the future success of virtual reality and augmented reality. As and when it is integrated seamlessly with the user’s natural behavioral pattern it will start to become invisible, and that is the tipping point for every technology towards success and growth.
Taking the pain from discovery
Search is reaching a tipping point and becoming invisible to human behavioral patterns. From a small box in the corner of the web-page to visual and voice, search, and assistance search is going main-stream. Will we expect it to become a standard item in digital strategy. One study says, visual and voice search would amount to 50% of all the searches done by 2020.
What does this mean for digital transformation that is B2C focused and the e-commerce industry?
As I stated at the beginning of this article, transformation is becoming more about the experience. With the overdose of data, technology, platforms and digital; what we have forgotten, was the human. The human being, who was and should always be at the centre of it. This year, more organisations will jump on this and you will see many service providers and agencies also doing the same.
Purpose, relevance, experience, empathy, ethical and responsible are some of the terms starting to grow back in our minds through the clutter of digital.
We have started to understand that technology and everything around it cannot be the differentiator it is just a facilitator. Which technology or platform you choose is becoming less relevant but what you do with it, how you become relevant to your users, how do you keep the human element and experience in-tact and how do you enhance the experience, is becoming the leading metric.
Gone are the days of transformation being inside out. Now it is about how do you make a true transformation which is outside-in.
- Digital transformation is about organisational transformation empowered by technology, business, and people.
- Customers, culture, employees, business continuity are at the heart of digital transformation success.
- Digital transformation is about creating a holistic experience for the end user.
- The future of transformation is about experience.
- We have come to realise that blockchain is kind of a mess.
- Blockchain is too niche, closed, complicated for lay people to use for every day applications.
- Only logical way to get blockchain adoption is to create plug-and-play version that all of us can use.
- Organisations need to be open for collaboration and cross-integration for a true blockchain implementation.
- It will be two to three more years before we start to see the traction that blockchain once promised.
- Search is reaching a tipping point and becoming invisible to human behavioral patterns.
- The days of transformation being inside-out are gone.
- It is about how do you make a transformation which is outside-in.
RBBi’s Amol Kadam takes a deep dive into some of the over-hyped regional transformation buzzwords and offers an objective perspective.