As 2017 has come to an end, we can reflect on how technology continues to change our lives exponentially. Personally, my life has pivoted a lot this year due to technology. It provided me with a virtual assistant, let me dabble in “alternate” currencies, and of course, on a cold rainy night, let me know what the crowds thought I should binge watch. The wisdom of influencers has replaced peer pressure.
On the business front, enterprises also saw numerous pivotal opportunities because of technology. Many invested in emerging technologies and began dabbling with how they can be applied. Organizations that are infusing new technology into their business and disrupting their business models will be better positioned for growth. After all, there is a difference between digital transformation and just becoming digital. Those who understand this will be the winners of the future.
Below are five examples of trends this past year that demonstrate the deep infusion of technology into business imperatives:
- Major security breaches continued. Both businesses and government breaches continued to make headlines in 2017. (Global ransomware costs alone were expected to exceed $5 billion in 2017). But, I think we have hit the tipping point where we don’t panic every time there is a new breach. Society has shown it can be more forgiving when breaches are reported early and with more transparency. What this means is that as cybersecurity investments continue, they should be made not just to mitigate threats, but also to improve how an organization deals with a breach. Minimizing reputational impacts from how a breach is handled is as important as efforts to prevent the breach. This is a clear indication that security is no longer a technology problem, but a business problem.
- Agile got top billing. As girl group TLC once sang, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls.” Agile development has risen above waterfall approaches and pushed those to the back room. Truth is, as the software industry embraces agile, we are still seeing failures … but at a quicker rate. This is because, no matter what we call it or what approach is next, successful software development is about business and technology leadership, vision and commitment. Absent these, risks of low achievement or failure will prevail.
- Blockchain was decoupled from Bitcoin. While the two never really were coupled technically, to many they seemed like the same thing for a while. Blockchain technology has become so hot and full of hype, every industry is hopeful it can help organize, manage and share their data (transact) and authenticate users in distributed ledgers. Organizations have experimented with everything from tracking fair-trade coffee to managing complex legal contracts. All industries do transactions, and the hope of reducing costs and improving authentication holds a lot of promise that may disrupt and change business models. This next year should be interesting to see if blockchain is utilized for the right purposes. It will be disruptive to industries that find the right usage.
- Customer focus shifted to customer experience. For the past five years, all industries have been focused on providing multiple channels (such as web, social, mobile, kiosk, etc.) to their customers. This year, there was a shift to not just provide new digital channels, but also to find ways to enable customers to have a better “experience,” like using augmented reality. For example, when shopping for paint online, letting consumers take a picture of what they want to paint and see how it will look before they buy it. Experiences like these hope to deliver more sales and recurring customers.
- Talent gaps grew. The cybersecurity skill shortage is widely reported. See my earlier blog on ways to help bring forward more talent to fill the gaps. Tech firms are also looking to grow in blockchain, agile, artificial intelligence and more. And, the infusion of technical talent in traditional business roles creates even more gaps. This includes such things as the need for more technical expertise in marketing (e.g., digital, social media, data insights, etc.) or in other areas such as forensic experts in law enforcement to address the growing number of cyber-related crimes.
Across the industries we serve, CGI globally has examined the current state, the drivers for change, the future state, and the winners’ attributes. We see that in all scenarios, technology is no longer just an enabler; it is the driver. You can find summary insights from our face-to-face interviews with 1,300+ business and IT executives in our 2017 CGI Client Global Insights.
There are even more trends worth mentioning, including the rise in power of data analytics, automation and DevOps. I’ll delve more into potential impacts of these trends in a future blog, but thought it made sense to look back at some first. As we look to 2018, my first prediction is that more industries will face disruption and at a faster pace. We look forward to helping clients innovate and create enduring value in the New Year, and beyond.