Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword and continues to enable organisations in many industries, for instance, financial, insurance, healthcare, telecommunication, manufacturing etc. to re-imagine and re-invent their business models to deliver differentiated value and richer customer experiences. Most of these technologies have moved from concept to mainstream.
Key technology trends that will transform the business landscape in 2019 and beyond.
1. Confluence of AI, machine learning and deep learning
The convergence of these technologies will enable enterprises and small businesses to offer more personalised experiences. It is inevitable that AI will continue to be used to automate manual and repetitive activities previously performed by humans. The world is rapidly evolving from cloud-first, mobile-first to AI-first, the first two technologies are still relevant however AI is becoming the essential part of every business, for example, if leveraged with data, it will inform most decisions that companies make. To name a few AI technologies: predictive analytics, autonomous things, voice recognition and response, recommendation engines etc. Automation is paramount to improve business processes, effectiveness and performance. Integrating more technologies, like Robotic process automation (RPA), algorithms, chatbots, knowledge base etc. with business applications is guaranteed to create competitive advantage.
2. 5G technology, the next generation of mobile internet
5G technology offers opportunities for new business development across the globe. Its capabilities include enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable and low latency communications and massive machine type communications (IoT). Imagine the fastest broadband network speeds of up 100 gigabits per second, 1000 times faster than 4G network, with low latency, more reliability and efficiency (about 90% reduction in network energy usage). This is exciting, wait the excitement doesn’t end there, mobile phone makers may soon start making 5G-ready phones given 5G network availability from Telco’s. My prediction is that we’ll start to see more developments around 5G technology from 2019 and beyond, especially in developed markets. To name a few drivers for 5G: smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables (sports and fitness), connected cars, virtual/augmented reality etc.
3. Blockchain technology
Blockchain is a distributed ledger. It is a tamper resistant, cryptographically secure database. Blockchain and other distributed-ledger technologies provide trust in untrusted environments, eliminating the need for a trusted central authority. It promotes decentralisation models and thus represents an alternative to centralised trust models. According to Gartner (2018) "Blockchain promises to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency and reducing friction across business ecosystems, potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction." Blockchain initially started in the financial industry and now is continuing to transform many industries, for instance supply chain, healthcare, government, manufacturing, real estate, to name a few.
4. IoT and Edge computing
The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that contain electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity which allows these smart things to connect, interact and exchange data over the internet. Though this sounds great, it does present security challenges for consumers. Security is essential to ensure secure exchange of data among IoT devices. Statista (2019) predicts that by 2020, the installed base of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. The overall IoT market is projected to be worth more than one billion U.S. dollars annually from 2017 onwards.
Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm in which computation is largely or completely performed on distributed device nodes known as smart devices or edge devices as opposed to primarily taking place in a centralised cloud environment (Wikipedia, 2019). It ensures remote processing on the edge of the network. Cloud computing will still play a key role to collect and consolidate data from the edge devices and to provide analytics/business insights.
Data and connectivity are common themes across these technologies and continues to provide untapped potential for most organisations that recognise the importance of richer customer experiences. Organisations that uses data to their advantage will be able improve the human element that is often forgotten, for instance, better customer engagement and an opportunity to build stronger relationships. The convergence of these technologies will certainly give most organisations opportunities to improve their competitive advantage.
Our blog for 2019 will dive deeper to each of these technologies, drawing insights and sharing some strategies that will enable small businesses and enterprises to lead digital transformation. Stay tuned for more!