Digital transformation is set to gain significant momentum worldwide in 2019.
More global organisations than ever are re-examining business outcomes, digital strategies and technology models thanks to continuous advancements in cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and information compliance.
With research heavyweights like Gartner weighing in on next year's big technology trends to watch, Xello's team of experienced consultants have picked are our own top 10 digital trends accelerating digital transformation in 2019 and beyond, and why you need to prepare for them as both a decision-maker and as an organisation.
Businesses will be adopting the next generation IoT platforms
Internet of Things (IoT) will evolve from industry buzzword to driving force for digital transformation in 2019, according to DXC Technology.
The leading technology company predicts enterprises will begin implementing the next generation of IoT platforms with the rising number of smart “things” at the helm.
Continuous advancements in IoT tech will allow businesses to analyse larger quantities of their industry-specific data coming from IoT sources in real-time, with more integration with previously non traditional data sources, enabling greater precision and new data correlations.
A specific use-case example used by DXC was the medical field:
Doctors and researchers will be able to integrate data from previously unavailable sources such as geolocation data from fitness watches
They will be able to combine it with traditional data sources like blood chemistry
Experts will have new data correlations and can deliver more accurate treatment plans
Insights are predicted to be further enhanced by combining artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with next-generation IoT platforms, though it’s also forecast by Gartner that through 2020, a lack of data science professionals will prevent 75% of companies from fully leveraging the full potential of IoT.
Considering the amazing achievements already made by Australian businesses combining IoT with predictive analytics and ML, we’re not surprised 2019 is expected to be a big leap forward for Internet of Things.
It’s key, then, to invest in IoT expertise early to avoid being left behind.
Enterprise data centres will soon be a thing of the past
2019 and 2020 are expected to be the year of the public cloud.
DXC Technology predicts a shift away from traditional enterprise data centre workloads to multi-tenant data centres hosted in public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
In addition, the Cisco Global Cloud Index Report estimates 68 per cent (298 million) of cloud workloads will be migrated to public cloud data centers by the year 2020.
With the rise of big data and the growing business for information processing, the public cloud offers superior bandwidth and efficiency for business workloads.
This is on top of the managed service benefits and multitude of integrated data and modern workplace services (think Azure Data Services, Office 365, etc), so it should be no surprise more companies are recognising this benefit.
Specialised data centres are expected to remain, but a larger number of “lift and shift” migration projects to the public cloud will greatly diminish their value going forward.
Ensuring you’re prepared for digital transformation and a move to the cloud is key to avoiding late, messy infrastructure overhauls.
Self-service BI will continue to produce greater analysis output
With the rise of big data and advancements in business intelligence tools has come the need for more data scientists. According to Information Age, this had influenced over 80% of United Kingdom digital transformation leaders to prioritise their search for such data expertise.
However, a separate report from Gartner predicts self-service BI will play a greater role and produce more valuable analysis information and data insights than traditional data scientists by 2019.
Self-service BI consists of tools such as Power BI which enable users of all skill levels - not just data scientists or analysis experts - to access, share and work with business data and gain actionable insights, without an over-reliance on IT for data queries.
Xello has worked with many customers who have had faced roadblocks with their BI initiatives prior to leveraging the many benefits of self-service business intelligence services.
Staying ahead of this trend means first defining what exactly you want to extract from BI and how the insights you’re seeking align with your organisation’s objectives.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will drive application development
Gartner predicts 40% of new application development projects will involve artificial intelligence co-developers by 2022, with 85% of CIOs expected to pilot AI programs by 2020.
This trend is largely due to a paradigm shift in building AI solutions; data scientists and non-professional developers are now able to operate independently with predefined AI algorithms and models delivered as a service, driving a “new level of flexibility”.
In years past, partnering with application developers was the only option for many of these data scientists and non-coding professionals, but this is not expected to remain a significant roadblock next year and beyond.
With more development tools and cloud platforms such as Azure Cloud natively integrating AI capabilities into their services than ever before, there’s a massive level of opportunity to lead the pack with AI implementations to automate development, data analysis and testing functions.
More chatbots and intelligent assistants will automate work tasks
While many Windows 10 device owners are still regularly traumatised by the ever-persistent presence of Microsoft Cortana, it appears a large number of global organisations are adamant to implement their own chatbots and AI-powered assistants in the next 12 months.
The results of a study conducted by Spiceworks revealed 40% of large enterprises with more than 500 employees plan to implement AI chatbots or intelligent assistants on workplace devices in 2019, compared to 25% and 27% of mid-size and small companies respectively.
- Almost half (49%) of the surveyed companies use Cortana for work tasks, with Siri a close runner-up at 47% - with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant used in 23% and 13% of organisations respectively.
- Meanwhile, 14% of businesses use AI chatbots integrated in collaboration software like Microsoft Teams and Slack, while a measly 2% have built their own chatbot this year.
- The most common use for these tools is voice-to-text dictation (46%), team collaboration (26%) and employee calendar management (24%), with a smaller number using chatbots and AI for customer service (14%) and IT help desk support (13%).
The study concludes only 20% of IT professionals believe their business has the skills and resources to implement AI and chatbox technology, but the team at Xello expect that number to lessen significantly in the months to come.
Natural language and voice recognition is here to stay
Natural language processing and voice recognition are fast becoming major features of the most popular data analytics and business intelligence tools on the market.
It’s also something companies deploying BI systems can no longer afford to ignore.
Gartner expects approximately 50% of all business intelligence software queries will incorporate natural language processing or voice recognition by 2019. Natural-language generation and artificial intelligence are also expected to be standard features of 90% of modern BI platforms.
Tools like Azure Machine Learning and Power BI now boast ever-evolving, in-built Q&A features which allows users type a data-specific question using natural language, such as “what were total units sold last year,” which then generates fast and useful visualisations in response.
As touched on prior, chatbot and intelligent assistants like Cortana are also incorporating more voice recognition capabilities than years past, with greater results and response-to-result time.
Implementing these useful capabilities in your projects, whether it’s business analytics or cloud computing, will be key to achieving greater efficiency and insights in 2019 and beyond.
Addressing digital ethics and privacy will come to the forefront
Even with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to kick in next year and the Australian Government’s Notifiable Data Breach (NBD) now in full effect, standard compliance with industry regulations is no longer enough for many organisations and governments.
There is a growing concern for how personal information is being used in private and public sectors, despite the GDPR and NBD forcing businesses to re-think their digital initiatives.
Gartner predicts a big shift towards more proactive conversations and changes around digital ethics and privacy in 2019, with the companies taking an open stance and driving active conversations around these concerns with customers more likely to stay ahead of the pack.
“Trust is the acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation. Ultimately an organization’s position on privacy must be driven by its broader position on ethics and trust. Shifting from privacy to ethics moves the conversation beyond ‘are we compliant’ toward ‘are we doing the right thing.”
Building the foundation for digital ecosystems with privacy at the forefront - and analytics and security as the backbone - will ensure your organisation can adhere to regulations, keep information safe and deliver the best possible customer experience.
How to prepare for digital transformation trends in 2019 - and why you should
Digital transformation for many businesses is a buzzword, but the key to properly examining these potentially disruptive trends and being prepared for them is to view transformation as a clearly defined business strategy rather than as an incremental technology upgrade.
It's up to your decision-makers to examine the opportunities and values these trends offer and determine the best way to implement them in your day-to-day operations, whether in-house or with the help of professional expertise.