Digital transformation trends in 2019 and 2020 offer tantalizing glimpses into the future of work, business, and life … but how will these trends evolve over the next decade?
Let’s find out…
Major Digital Transformation Trends for 2019 and 2020
Here are a few trends that are dominant this year:
Digital-First Business Strategies
According to IDG, 91% of organizations have adopted or plan to adopt “digital-first” business strategies.
These businesses utilize technology to achieve a number of strategic aims, such as:
Meeting customer expectations
Enabling worker productivity
Better managing business performance
To name a few.
“Digital-first” has become another marketing phrase among many that accurately – or at least semi-accurately – describe organizations’ focus on digital technology.
The Digital Skills Crisis
The so-called digital skills crisis is being spurred by a growing gap between the supply of and demand for digital skills in the workplace.
Digitally maturing organizations, in other words, are adopting technology faster than their employees can keep up.
This trend has helped fuel the growth of:
Online education platforms
In-app training software
Learning management systems
Increased spending on in-house training
Some predict that the digital skills crisis will become a permanent feature of the economy – which will require many workers to become lifelong learners.
Automation is another factor that is transforming the work world. It also contributes in no small part to the digital skills crisis.
Software automation, such as RPA, can take over mundane office tasks or even entire jobs. For corporations, this means big savings and increased efficiency.
Physical automation is also rolling out, but it takes longer to develop and implement.
Predictions of impending job losses are widespread, and we can already see the effects of automation in the real world.
Amazon, for instance:
Has pioneered automation in the warehouse
Committed $700 million to retrain about a third of its US workforce
Plans to automate delivery through the use of drones
Opened the first cashier-less grocery store
In the 2020s, we will certainly see more innovations in this arena.
It will likely put more pressure on workers to upskill, escalating the digital skills crisis.
Today, we can see it powering cutting-edge processes such as:
Natural language processing (NLP)
These AI-fueled processes, in turn, power search engines, recommendation engines, and many more business systems that we don’t see.
When integrated with the other technologies mentioned here, AI becomes truly game-changing.
One of the biggest trends resulting from digital transformation is a redoubled focus on the human experience.
Because technology has changed the way people communicate, brands have had to alter the way they interact with their audiences.
Customer-centric, user-centric, and employee-centric models have become major focal points for businesses across a range of industries.
The reason: customers are more demanding than ever. And they have more choices than ever.
Research has shown that customers can and do swap brands at the drop of a hat – even after a single bad experience.
What Will Work Look Like in the 2020s?
The trends I’ve covered so far are some of the top digital transformation trends in 2019.
But in the 2020s, we can expect to see many more, such as:
5G represents a quantum leap from 4G, at least in terms of capacity.
Verizon claims it can deliver speeds 200 times faster than its current 4G network.
This technology will ultimately form the backbone for a cornucopia of other technological advances, from driverless cars to drones to the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the integration of the internet with a global network of devices and sensors.
The IoT will be a grid composed of:
- Computers and mobile devices
And virtually every other electronic device on the planet.
AR and VR
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been slow to take off.
But they are finding footholds in markets such as the industrial sector and gaming.
The following examples are the tip of the upcoming iceberg:
Pokemon Go is an example of an AR game that fused a game world with real-world GPS data
Face-effects apps, such as those found in LINE and Facebook, are examples of AR in action
Google Glass was a premature example of what is yet to come – when the technology fully matures, it will transform our daily lives in much the same way that mobile phones have.
When AR reaches mainstream, people will be able to access full, 3-dimensional virtual spaces – mixed with the real world – any time they want.
Automated vehicles will take the world by storm.
When they become fully legalized, implemented, and mainstreamed, transportation will change forever.
Taxis, buses, trains, ships, and drones can all be fully automated.
And they certainly will be.
It’s not hard to imagine the impact this trend will have on industries such as mass transit, freight and shipping, package delivery, food delivery, and so on.
How far will AI go?
The debate continues…
Some don’t think that general AI (machines that can think like humans) will come any time soon. Others think it will.
But even if it doesn’t, we will continue to see more advanced applications of deep learning and machine learning in the 2020s.
These advances will continue to widen the skills gap and further fuel the automation wave.
More worringly, some claim that AI will grant unfair competitive advantages to a small number of companies, consolidating power into a handful of global entities.
Recently, Elon Musk unveiled his “neuralink” device.
It’s a chip that plugs directly into your brain, designed to help humans achieve “a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”
The idea is to create an “ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interface to connect humans with computers.”
Imagine not needing to use a keyboard or a mouse – just think, and your computer will respond.
Musk hopes to start human trials in 2020.
Conclusion: Will Neuralinked White Collar Workers Be the Norm by 2030?
If the neuralink project goes smoothly, then it’s entirely possible.
Neuralinked humans would have exponential competitive advantages over those who don’t plug in.
It’s safe to assume that – at the very least – they would be much, much, much more productive.
We can certainly wander down some dark, Orwellian avenues when envisioning how this technology could be applied…
But it won’t hinder the neuralink’s development and implementation.
In an increasingly fast-paced, competitive economy, the bottom line will drive adoption.
And — whether we are talking about advanced AI or neuralinks or automation — technology will continue to favor early adopters over laggards.
When eyeing digital transformation, organizations should take a big-picture view.
It’s a good idea to consider how the trends covered here will impact revenue models in the coming years.