Whether business leaders embrace digital transformation or not, it’s here to stay. Its impact on enterprise has already proven to be quite profound, and adoption will be necessary to remain competitive and grow with each passing year.
Digital transformation is not just about the digitization of organizational processes needed to run day-to-day business operations. It’s largely a customer- and culture-driven transformation dictated by how consumers choose to do everything from initiate financial transactions to consume entertainment and the preference to use digital devices to communicate and express ideas.
To be clear, digital transformation is not the same as digitization and digitalization, which refer respectively to converting analog data to digital data and the actual process of change induced by the widespread use of technology.
The trends driving digital transformation forward are influenced by cultural pressures favoring consumer-based exchange of information and other socioeconomic factors.
Shift Toward Dueling AI
One important trend is the race in the technology sector to improve AI by making it smarter. A favored technique is to establish scenarios allowing one AI to battle another AI.
This can be accomplished using voice recognition, computer apps, video, or static graphical data to create an adversarial environment that requires a form of “self-improvement”. This is similar to the techniques used in machine learning whereby systems learn from data without be programmed to do so.
Improvements to AI systems have implications that transcend IT and are currently being hotly researched in such markets as retail, education, medicine, and even haute couture fashion, to name a few.
One very basic—and informal—example of this that has become a widely popular pastime on the internet is infinite looping Siri, Google Home, and Alexa so that they talk to each other in circles.
IoT Changes the Way Consumers Shop
Consumer behavior is now well beyond the early adopter stage when it comes to the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. We see tablets, for example, in restaurants, medical offices, and airports. And very few people can survive a day without their smartphones in hand.
Customer online shopping behavior, where the expectation for one- and two-day shipping exists, is transforming retailer supply chain behavior dramatically. Retailers are now responsible not just for order fulfillment and inventory management, but order tracking as well. Much of retail trade is originating via mobile devices.
As this trend continues, IoT also introduces the prospect of allowing retailers to provide better customer experiences by collecting shopping data and connecting things like brand preference with more finely focused product offerings. In turn retailers are looking to outsource daily IT tasks to managed service providers, allowing their staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
By using a virtual reality (VR) headset, viewers can immerse themselves into any number of virtual universes to explore fantasy worlds, complete covert ops, and play sports.
What was once the realm of teens and early adopters is now entering the mainstream with the production of more adult content. One recent report indicated that between 2014 and 2017, the number of VR users increased exponentially from 200,000 to 90 million.
Beyond games and sports, VR is steadily being adopted to advertise and market products to consumers. Luxury cars and fast food are just two examples of advertisers producing content for VR end users.
Virtual reality completely replaces most real-world elements. Augmented reality (AR) experiences, on the other hand, integrate the real-world environment with computer-generated visual and auditory enhancements whereby the user enters an altered perception of reality.
AR currently has many more far-reaching applications compared to VR because AR is used for real-world educational simulations. Current AR applications include emergency management and rescue training, flight training, medical procedure simulation, and industrial and military applications.
Snapchat is one popular form of AR that allows users of the app to take selfies or other photos and transform them into animated or cartoon renditions.
As focus remains on application development staffing and budgets tighten leaving businesses looking for dependable, budget friendly managed services providers to support the platforms to run the applications.
Digital Transformation is Essential
Digital transformation is the key for global businesses to grow and meet consumer demand. At a recent Gartner symposium in Australia, two-thirds of business executives in attendance acknowledged the need to hasten the pace of digitization in order to remain competitive.
In particular, the sluggish pace at which enterprise is leveraging technological scalability in the marketplace is due to a lack of qualified personnel skilled in AI, cybersecurity, and IoT processes and trends.
Digital transformation in business is even more pertinent given that in the past four years, there has been a 60 percent growth in technology skills required for non-IT staff. This suggests that dynamic change is occurring throughout global enterprise such that it demands greater focus on digital transformation for competitive survival.
Big Data Technology’s Role in Enterprise
The use of big data analytics in today’s business landscape is no longer seen as a luxury afforded solely by blue chip companies.
Access to data analytics—cloud-based or otherwise—enables companies to make faster, better decisions allowing for the creation of better products aimed at producing quality customer experiences, identify efficiencies in organizational processes, and other competitive advantages.
Companies not able to use analytics to crunch large amounts of raw data and transform that into a useful tool for decision-making will likely not succeed in a regional or global business environment.
Sqoop, Apache Hadoop, and NoSQL are some of the tools currently available to businesses to glean information about what is driving customer behavior and remain competitive.
It is crucial that enterprise operate leaner and stay competitive as digital transformation moves industrial markets forward. Businesses will be required to adopt managed services capable of integrating cloud infrastructure management, application platform management, and security services into strategic goals if they are to stay ahead of the emerging technologies curve.