2018 was an interesting year on the digital transformation front, with a number of trends emerging – some which have stuck around and some which have already started to fade away. Here’s a look back at the digital transformation trends that stood out for us, driving innovation and fueling growth for companies.
File Analytics edged even closer to the mainstream this year, as the need to meet increasingly tough regulations is forcing companies to reckon with the growing amount of hidden, unstructured data they are harbouring. Beyond the need to meet compliance mandates, more and more companies are turning to File Analytics as a driving force behind all business growth and success – from identifying and managing risk, to readying unstructured data for strategic governance, and enriching and operationalizing high-value digital assets for the enterprise.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another digital offering that has grown in both popularity and application this year. Initially, mainstream AI came to market in the form of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, but we’re starting to see a very dynamic roll out of AI in the form of chatbots and similar automated communication services that help customers get the answers they need as quickly as possible, without having to rely on human interaction. This cuts down on wait times and the overall amount of frustration customers experience when trying to get simple answers about a product or service. In short, enterprises are primarily using AI to seamlessly improve the customer journey – by steps or by leaps – in an infinitely scalable way.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a newer tool that is rapidly becoming a popular way for companies to do more with less. RPA uses an army of bots to learn how a process, such as sending invoices or other similar administrative tasks, is done, and then replicating it at scale. The beauty of RPA is that is allows companies to re-allocate the people that were doing these tasks onto higher level tasks that require a human touch (while saving money at the same time). This enables an organization to put more person-hours toward long-term efforts like focusing on growth and development.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was another interest point that shot to the top of everyone’s mind this year with the launch of GDPR. This move reinforced the ongoing fear of huge, high-profile data breaches – like those of Equifax and, most recently, the Marriot-acquired Starwood – where massive amounts of personal data were exposed. As a result, 2018 saw companies around the world scrambling to meet (and understand) compliance mandates and ensure the security of their data in order to avoid data breaches or at least limit the potential exposure should a breach occur. Failing to do so means losing the trust and business of their customers and potential customers.
What drives these trends
Many of the digital transformation trends of 2018 come down to the simple fact that companies are always looking to find new ways to improve overall profitability. But, interestingly, an increasingly tech-savvy and demanding customer base is the source of the momentum behind a lot of the innovation that was rolled out this year.
The desire to improve customer experience and the overall customer journey pushes these trends forward in exciting ways, especially when it comes to customer facing AI and RPA developments. The more a company can do to improve the experience for their customers, the more likely customers are to not only stick around, but also become brand advocates for the company. Similarly, the desire for a seamless, homogenized digital experience in all aspects of life is pushing this forward. As consumers spend more and more time on mobile devices, being able to give customers greater access and ability in a mobile environment becomes crucial.
Access to better technology and better integration of this technology also pushes digital innovation in exciting ways. Analytics, integrated with the customer journey, for example, allows organizations to spot trends, patterns and problems that people experience as they go through their daily lives in ways that would have been completely impossible just a few years ago. This unprecedented level of access to data allows companies to solve problems almost as fast as they discover them.
What the future holds
Looking to the future of digital transformation strategy, there will be a continued push for having clean and high-quality data, with companies increasingly investing in enhanced machine learning capabilities and the swifter execution of intelligent business insights. As digital transformation challenges force enterprises to put a greater emphasis on better serving customers, more of their mundane daily tasks will be taken over by advancements in RPA and AI, leaving a company’s human resources to focus more on excellence and delight in the customer experience.