It might seem exaggerated to claim that 2020 was the year that brought digital transformation into the spotlight but it might also not be far from the truth. In our first blog post on the topic, we highlighted how in 2020 the pandemic accelerated a global shift in digitalization. This was prompted by business’s need to remain competitive and visible, and to adapt to shifting consumer behaviors.
In exploring the impact of digitalization, we looked at the effect that working from home has had on the workplace. From new collaboration tools to smart workspaces, 2020 made companies reimagine the work space. As the future remains uncertain, a new normal is emerging.
On top of that, the pandemic has also highlighted the very real limitations of core legacy systems and their incompatibility with newly emerging technologies. This has forced businesses to embark on a journey of digital modernization. Some notable trends here include technologies such as the distributed cloud and edge computing, an outcome-based managed services model, and new forms of cooperation.
But all of the above is not limited to 2020, nor is it the full story. Instead, we expect that these trends are emerging now but will be shaping the digital and technology markets in the next few years.
In this second blog post, we will be looking at:
- Digital transformation in the form of low code and no-code platforms, automation and AI, as well as in verticals such as education and healthcare
- The race to provide an effective, digitally-focused customer experience
- How the evolution of technology is creating a trust-crisis due to increasing data vulnerabilities and data exploitation
1. Digital transformation takes the stage
Under the pressure of increasingly operating online, businesses have seen themselves challenged to transform quickly and efficiently. As a result, the value chain of many companies has shortened or changed to adapt to this growing focus on digital. In overcoming this hurdle, a number of technologies have come to play a crucial role, laying the path for what is expected over the next few years.
Low-code and no-code platforms
Over the last year, low-code and no-code platforms such as Lightning, Zoho Creator, or MS PowerApps have come to be adopted at an accelerated rate. These platforms have democratized the process of application development and given organizations the ability to create apps sometimes in a matter of hours or days. Democratization, in this context, also known as citizen access, is the process of enabling employees to make use of technical expertise without having to pass extensive, specialized, and costly training.
Such democratization has, in turn, led to a change in how value is created altogether: “from developing software to solving business challenges with software” (Deloitte).
One of the goals of this shift to low-code has been to extract more value from core legacy systems as a way for organizations to achieve digital transformation without experiencing major shocks. Moreover, with application development becoming accessible to non-experts, its significance is also expected to diminish somewhat in favor of sector knowledge and an understanding of business processes. This trend will therefore also see users and developers working together more, setting the foundations for new forms of cooperation.
Automation and AI proliferation
The democratization of a host of business processes and services as a trend is beyond the use of low-code platforms. The coronavirus pandemic forced governments and businesses to begin a process of cooperation that turned to artificial intelligence (AI) as a way of addressing the public health crisis (Forbes). For instance, both Huawei and Alibaba provided solutions that were intended to help with monitoring the spread of the epidemic as well as with improving the diagnosis of cases.
This has raised the status of AI as important for solving societal and economic problems, along with business challenges. It has also highlighted how AI is becoming more accessible and central in driving business development and growth.
According to Forrester, already in 2021, a significant part of software development will be automated and performed through the use of AI. For example, AI will be used to improve the automation of software testing or to identify gaps in testing. In other words, AI will create a cascading effect in which the improvement of automation will increase its use throughout different industries which in turn will increase the development of software solutions.
This process is also known as hyperautomation - a form of automation that works with machine learning (ML), AI, robotic process automation (RPA), and a host of other technologies. Hyperautomation expands both the range of processes that can be automated as well as the level of sophistication of such automation.
How digitalization is impacting education and healthcare
Both education and healthcare are two notable examples of how digital transformation has had to occur rapidly over the course of the last year.
With every week of school closure having “significant economic and long-term social implications” (OECD), educational systems across the world have had to adapt. They have had to put in place systems that can at least partly make up for what is lost due to the lack of in-person contact between educators and students. This transformation has hardly been an easy one. As research from Sweden notes, it revealed a host of tensions in the interaction between suppliers and buyers due to diverging expectations and needs, offerings, and budget restrictions.
While the educational system has been shaken by this crisis, this also demonstrates the growing importance of the edtech market. With the disruption of education being definitive, a future “new normal” will likely include technology that may make education more student-centric and personalized.
Healthcare has also experienced significant disruption as well as digitalization during the preceding year. As face-to-face meetings between patients and doctors have been similarly reduced due to lockdown measures, digital solutions in the area of telehealth (Deloitte) were adopted widely.
As a result, and despite irregularities and inequalities in access to such services, consumers have also come to expect to receive care when needed and in an easy to use way (HBR). This, too, paves the way for a change in how healthcare is delivered in the coming years and for the introduction of more digital health tools.
2. The rise of customer experience
Of course, customer experience (CX) has always been on the rise. But the journey changes, and so now companies, both B2C and B2B, are prompted to think of new ways to adapt to the shift toward greater virtual activity.
For one, this includes the unification of customer experience so that its various aspects, whether online or offline, become more seamless. It also means an ever greater emphasis on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
Here we will focus on the importance of businesses unifying customer experience and placing it front and center. In a next blog post, we will be looking at the trends in UI/UX design and how these relate to the current theme.
Unifying customer experience
Also known as multiexperience, this trend is about connecting the different parts of the customer experience and journey into a seamless whole (Gartner).
An oft-cited example of such an experience is the one created by Domino’s Pizza. With Domino’s AnyWare customers can order pizza via a multitude of devices and platforms. In addition, the pizza ordering experience also includes a tracker that allows people to know when their pizza will be ready and on its way, while delivery is conducted via an autonomous vehicle.
In other words, this is a way for companies to make use of a variety of digital touchpoints and devices in order to unify customer experience. Other ways in which multiexperience can be delivered is through the use of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), sensing technologies, and more, in order to immerse users more fully.
Becoming fully customer-centric
Multiexperience is one facet in the more general trend of greater customer-centricity. For B2B, a more traditional sales approach of emphasizing the features and specifications of a product or service is making way to communication that addresses customers’ needs and pain points (Deloitte). So instead of extolling the many benefits offered by a product, messaging needs to be audience-centric and buyer-driven.
Of course, putting the customer first isn’t new. Yet, this renewed focus is due to both B2B and B2C customers being more informed and less loyal (Salesforce) than their predecessors. This is in part fueled by the conditions created by the pandemic, and the erosion of trust in how customer data is handled, and in part a more general trend as a result of society-wide digital transformation.
Now, companies must work to win their trust through organizational integrity, on the one hand, but also through value for money - the most important factor in decision-making (KPMG). Following personalization, value for money is also the second most important factor driving brand loyalty.
Navigating the privacy paradox
This latter point is well encapsulated in the so-called privacy paradox (Gartner). This is the paradox between today’s users, and in particular millennials, having less trust in companies’ use of their data, yet being willing to provide it in order to receive tailored experiences.
Naturally, the fuzziness of this issue results in companies becoming risk-averse when collecting and using customer data. This in turn feeds back into the paradox and customers’ frustration with lack of personalization.
Yet, missing out on the opportunity to offer personalized customer experiences means that businesses are left with little else. Traditional marketing drivers such as price and product are losing their value, and so companies must find ways to navigate the paradox.
This can be achieved by strictly following regulations on data collection while at the same time reframing the relationship between privacy and personalization as complementary, rather than contradictory.
3. The evolution of technology is eroding trust
As consumers become more aware of how their data is being collected and used, organizations are recognizing the increasing liability of storing and gathering data.
At the same time, with a great number of employees working from home over the last year, the operating environments of companies have been put at a significantly greater risk.
Combined, these highlight the need to safeguard systems due to growing cybersecurity risks but also the need for greater transparency and traceability, due to the crisis in trust that technological advances are now engendering.
A cybersecurity wake-up call
With a rise of 238% in cyberattacks on banks, and a 600% increase in phishing attempts, the pandemic has certainly brought concerns about cybersecurity and resilience back into the spotlight. Naturally, instances of attacks on employees working from home have also increased significantly.
Companies must therefore adjust their cybersecurity strategies to protect against potential breaches from home networks and devices, VPN vulnerabilities, and potential DDoS attacks. At the same time, given the economic strain delivered by the pandemic, budgetary constraints may lead to difficulties in maintaining optimal security levels at all times.
To handle this, Accenture’s Cyber Threatscape Report suggests that businesses could consider “stratifying, prioritizing and outsourcing information security operations.” In addition, they may also seek to manage infrastructure and operational maintenance and growth in a way that strikes a balance between budget and security.
Zero trust as a preferred approach
One of the cybersecurity approaches that is gaining increasing popularity is the so-called zero trust model. It is frequently summed up by the statement “never trust, always verify”. Zero trust is a form of adaptive security that understands users, networks, and devices as contextualized and seeks to control access and manage risk in a more agile fashion.
Under a zero trust architecture security is achieved by creating an environment in which individual breaches are isolated and cannot spread beyond a specific account or device that has been targeted. Moreover, thanks to a great degree of automation and constant adaption of the system, devices or networks are significantly harder to target.
Apart from its defensive capabilities, a zero trust model also strives toward greater and real-time visibility of the potential threats that a system may face and seeks to predict and preempt attacks.
The implementation of zero trust is certainly not an easy feat and requires extensive planning and consideration. Yet, the need for a more enhanced cybersecurity approach within organizations is catalyzed by rising threats but also by cloud migration and digital modernization priorities.
For this reason, the introduction of a new security approach must of necessity go hand in hand with a modernization assessment that highlights the specific organizational security needs.
Make Resolute Software your digital modernization partner
Adapting to all of the changes and requirements that the last year has brought in may look like a daunting task. And the need to act quickly in order to remain competitive and adaptive may seem pressing, yet hasty decisions risk being unwise.
Resolute Software’s mission is to help companies achieve digital transformations and modernization of their systems and processes in a transparent and stable way.
By working with you in defining the goals of what you wish to achieve, we can provide you with a comprehensive and detailed plan how to digitally transform your organization. Thanks to the diverse and cross-industry experience of our experts, we can create a plan that is tailored for your business’s specific needs.
If you are looking for a reliable partner to help you plan and execute your digital transformation, get in touch with us.