“Digital Transformation” is one term that is creating a lot of buzz. In fact, it is so popular that a recent Marketing Technologist study revealed that 97% of companies are currently chasing a digital transformation of some kind. In addition, Gartner is reporting that investments in digital transformation are expected to increase through 2017 and 2018, capturing 28% of total IT budget.
The critical question business leaders need to ask themselves is whether their digital transformation strategy is covering all corners.? In response, I am outlining the key trends impacting digital transformation outcomes in 2017 and beyond.
Top-Notch User Experience
Customers don’t hesitate to turn away from brands that do not align with their values and requirements. In fact, more than half stop buying after a bad customer service interaction, according to recent research by ZenDesk. Companies undergoing digital transformation must focus on eliminating friction from every touchpoint and improving the customer experience based on where their customers are in the respective journeys. Any digital transformation strategy MUST start with a solid understanding the customer journey and how value is ultimately delivered to customers.
Today, young professionals prefer employment and workplace policies that are flexible and friendly to an increasingly “fluid” workforce. Mobile technology and bandwidth proliferation allow employees to access required capabilities to perform their jobs remotely. Chatrooms, video conferencing, real-time co-editing and a plethora of other collaborative tools empower easy communication across geographies, which is pushing more companies to extend their enterprise applications outside of physical workplace borders. Doing so, though, could create challenges in terms of, among others, employee engagement, and risks associated with treatment of personal information. Any company that can leverage a remote workforce has a leg up on the competition, but the pros and cons must be carefully considered before going all in.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
If you still doubt the potential of AR and VR, look at the early success of Pokémon GO. Nowadays, augmented and virtual reality are no longer limited to gaming. Most, if not all, companies, regardless of vertical, have the potential to utilize AR and VR as they become more powerful and cheaper to configure and deploy. This year, 30% of consumer-facing companies in the Forbes Global 2000 are experimenting with AR And VR as part of their marketing efforts. Do you want your customers to experience your product (e.g. cars) before purchasing it? Done. How about medical students practicing surgery routines without the risks that come with it? Done.
Internet of Things (IOT)
It is expected that Internet of Things will play a crucial role in driving the digital transformation forward. In 2015, there were about 15.4 billion connected devices. According to IHS, this number will grow to 30.7 billion in 2020, and 75.4 billion by 2025. IoT offers immeasurable insight into a company’s infrastructure needs and has the potential to change how businesses transact with each other and with their customers. It leads to a hyper-connected world which helps in improving business, life and society at an even faster rate than today’s.
Artificial Intelligence is all set to become one of the most disruptive forces in business. According to Gartner, digital assistants will recognize customers by face and voice across channels as soon as 2018, while smart agents will manage 40% of mobile interactions by 2020. As machines become smarter and start to take on more complex tasks that have been so far handled exclusively by humans, every industry and market will be disrupted.
Digital transformation is on the top of everyone’s mind. Most companies are either during a digital transformation, or plan to start in the next 18 months. Before taking on digitization initiatives, it is important to understand the possible outcomes and plan accordingly. Don’t just dive in head first. You’ll want to first assess all available options and identify the one that best aligns with your strategic objectives whether these are tied to growth, efficiencies, risk management or all the above.