The last few years have been heavy on promise for companies looking to adopt technologies to boost their digital transformation efforts. And after many consistent years of progress, a lot of much-buzzed-about applications have finally come of age and are ready to prove themselves in the enterprise in 2018. Alongside these more mature technologies are a few newcomers that have the potential to rise to the occasion if companies can craft strong strategies around their adoption.
Here’s a rundown of the top technologies poised to boost digital transformation in the enterprise in 2018.
2017 was the year when everyone started talking about AI changing the world. In reality, we are nowhere near robots that talk to us and bend to our every whim — instead narrow AI, algorithms and models that are very good at one specific task grew in leaps and bounds last year, particularly related to machine learning and pattern recognition.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce and other leading tech companies are already using machine learning internally for hundreds of applications, such as detecting fake news, targeting advertising, forecasting sales, voice recognition, performance management and so forth. And now, these technologies are also largely available in the cloud as a service, through applications like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, enabling any company — not just the major tech giants — to access the power of machine learning.
The most common use cases are search, image, video and voice recognition. But machine learning will also directly start to influence the user interface and experience of applications, with self learning and improving user experience based on very refined A/B testing. It will no longer be one internet fits all
We expect 2018 to be the year when companies that leverage machine learning for their core business will gain a major competitive advantage.
Blockchain is becoming mature, but the use cases that are proving themselves out are still fairly narrow.
Particularly for financial services, we are certainly seeing the emergence of a few solid examples of real-world uses for blockchain. For instance, Australia is integrating blockchain into its stock system, it’s being used for trade marketing, Meanwhile, it’s also influencing business practices like payroll, and some are using to connect vouchers and coupons between the physical and mobile world.
One of the most promising signals that this technology is gaining rapid maturity is Microsoft’s Coco Framework, a blockchain protocol technology, since it provides a reliable solution for blockchain to be deployed in the enterprise.
But for every valid use case, there’s a frivolous Cryptokitty out there as well. In 2018, avoid using blockchain for the sake of blockchain. Many use cases today are much simpler and cheaper to maintain using cloud based database, but keep an eye on this technology as it matures over the next few years.
The Internet of Things
The smart home is starting to become a reality thanks to a combination of better and cheaper sensors, voice control, and the ecosystems created by Amazon and Google.
Though web based-management is important , mobile will become the de-facto interface for people to manage internet of things (IoT) devices. At the same time challenges with interoperability and communication between devices will continue due to fragmentation in protocols.
With IoT spreading throughout our homes, cars and even bodies, new vulnerabilities seem to emerge almost daily. Expect more big breaches in 2018, some of which will likely impact you or your company.
The biggest barrier to digital transformation is not technological but cultural. Different organizations have different ways of working. While there are endless technologies out there that could be pivotal for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage — be it chatbots, AI, big data, IoT or cloud — they should never be the starting point.
Instead, companies need to focus on making these technologies operational in 2018. By focusing on opportunities to address customer and employee pain points, next year can be the year that companies stop paying technological lip service to digital transformation and really reach its potential with the proper solutions.
To do this, companies must embrace a succeed fast approach — not fail fast. By employing lean, agile methodologies, companies can make digital transformation a true gamechanger in 2018.
A Time for Maturity
A lot of decades-old technologies are hitting their stride, alongside some new players that could completely transform digital applications and technologies for the enterprise. This year is poised to be a year where return on investment from more mature technologies enable businesses to solidify many of the early adoptions they’ve made over the last couple of years. And having the benefit of hindsight from AI and big data will aid companies in taking a more mature approach to technology adoption in the future.