How to present what makes the difference today in business for a company in terms of technologies? The Deloitte consulting firm has delivered its annual study Tech Trends 2017 which mobilizes more than 250 experts around the world and analyzes several thousand IT services to draw 8 key trends presented here, in condensed mode.
An expression to characterize technologies today within organizations and in a business ecosystem: the company is kinetic by adopting a permanent movement. It must develop dexterity to overcome operational inertia and thrive in ever-changing business environments.
The company is kinetic … always in motion…
Behind the boom of the technical and digital advances of our time, only some of them are creative of value and it is more necessary than ever to know them first.
The kinetic enterprise described by Deloitte Digital is the one that is set in motion internally and externally, with common denominators of the priorities given to the training of employees, to strategic intelligence, to the transversality of the activities within the organization, opening to external environments such as start-ups, data control and the development of machine learning (or collaboration with machines).
This company in motion is heckled by profound technological changes beyond the supply and the production system. This affects relationships with clients and partners, as well as the ways in which employees collaborate. All business departments are truly impacted.
Thus, leaders are concerned today to examine the technology from three complementary angles via strategic reflections:
- Priority and strategic angle: what innovations are likely to challenge existing business models?
- Second, the operational angle: how can they help improve productivity?
- And finally, the organizational angle: the company’s human capital, its operating mode and its culture, enable it to take full advantage of emerging technologies?
Eight key technological trends to develop IT business:
1. IT without frontiers: IT transformation potential at the heart of its business lines
The Information Systems Department (ISD) is transforming itself with a decompartmentalization between the IT teams and the business teams, buyers and suppliers. In this way, the development, operation and delivery of services can be rethought.
This can be achieved through an open-ended collaboration within the ISD, with the business lines and potentially beyond the company’s borders.
Moreover, this requires training ISD experts to move from a contractual logic (SLA, or Service Level Agreement) to a KPI- oriented (key performance indicators) logic, closer to those of the trades.
The old patterns of traditional project management in the 1970s that separate the roles are no longer appropriate. The agile approach coupled with a holistic approach involving a team focused on design including representatives of IT, trades, marketing, finance and other groups is now a reality.
In network security, it goes to the security of service.
2. Dark analytics: highlight hidden opportunities in structured data
Companies are still asking themselves a lot of questions about Big Data and at the same time have started to exploit cases of use.
The large amount of unused data is an informational “dark matter” that should lead to successful applications within 18 to 24 months for pioneers.
The new frontier of Big Data, then, is the “dark analytics” which cover three types of data that are now neglected:
- the “dormant” information of the company,
- unstructured data (e-mails, photos or videos), and
- the invisible web ( “deep web” ) which, although publicly accessible, is not indexed by conventional search engines.
These data contain indications with high added value for companies that will be able to “talk” them. On this point, significant productivity gains are expected. To be successful, organizations will have to foster a business perspective, or else they will be able to dispel their efforts and open up to their environment, which probably has some of the data they need.
It is also expected to analyze masses of data exploiting advances in image processing (such as pattern recognition), sound (with voice analysis), and popularization of statistical analysis from Artificial Intelligence research… to develop an exclusive competitive advantage.
Example of application: A clothing start-up collects data on the trends and tastes of these customers (social networks including images) in order to better target the proposed articles.
3. Intelligence of machines: technology imitates human cognition to create value
In terms of Artificial Intelligence, we have moved from the world of automatics to tools, machines and programs that adapt.
The rapid evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has given rise to a myriad of skills such as “machine learning”, “deep learning”, “cognitive analytics”, “robotic process automation” (RPA) and bots (conversational agents). All these tools in full development constitute the machine intelligence.
With Artificial Intelligence, we move from semantics to statistics. Today’s algorithmic capabilities enable employees to increase their performance, automate workloads and develop cognitive agents simulating both human thought and behavior. Also, the stakes in terms of productivity and human resources management are crucial.
The robots that are so scared use extremely basic tasks and are used mainly to avoid breaks in the process. It may, for example, be invoice processing. In fact, these are tasks that will be replaced more than posts and we will observe within the organizations a reassignment of tasks. This will require a significant training effort for the employees.
Example of application: An insurer experimented with co-bots for assistance in gathering, analyzing information, automating tasks and fostering engagement with the customer by reducing the processing time of applications.
4. Mixed reality: ever more intuitive, immersive and engaging experiences
The mixed reality is a trend differentiating within 18 to 24 months. Companies are experiencing Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) with the potential of these technologies, which is constantly growing, further enhanced by the opportunities provided by the Internet of Things (IoT). However, this potential must not make us forget the implications, in particular in terms of ergonomics, which must be prioritized for the implementation of service based on mixed reality.
Today we have gone beyond the “gadgetization” phase of mixed reality (in short, not to encumber ourselves with helmets and other heavy interfaces).
The screens gradually give way to other tools to capture gesture and voice, to integrate digital information with the environment of the user, in an increasingly satisfactory way. It will probably take a few more years for mixed reality to find its “killer app”. It is known that the specificities of mixed reality and its simple access (availability to the general public) make relevant a familiarization with this technology.
Today’s strategy must focus on creativity to consider innovative interfaces beyond the screen, mouse, keyboard or tactile to reinvent the relationship with the user.
Example of application: An innovative distribution services company that offers a solution based on the possibility given to the customer to visualize a product in context of use (furniture in his own living room, appliances on the work surface …).
5. The unavoidable architecture: complexity gives way to simplicity and flexibility
Organizations transform their information systems based on “open source” technologies, open standards, virtualization and “containerization”. On the other hand, they intensify the automation and the flexible coupling of old and new platforms, while often adopting a “cloud first” approach.
This need to accelerate and be agile is decisive for the time to market. As part of a transformation of the company, this approach contributes to an emerging trend that many consider inevitable: the generalization of a flexible architecture model that generates more efficiency, reduces material and human costs, delays, flexibility, and produces results more quickly.
This includes defining its own new generation architecture, building on its strengths and the specificity of its needs. It is also wise in a monitoring and benchmark system that will make visible new technologies, new uses sometimes silent or difficult to identify (forges open source, partners companies or open communities of developers …).
Example of application: A large bank has to adapt to the Y generation by deploying and evolving the proposed service bundle thanks to a base of standardized and modular components. This base allows it to manage the viral adoption of a service or the recycling of another to counter the competition and satisfy customers less and less reliable.
6. Everything-as-a-service: everything becomes online service
Many organizations are embarking on a strategic shift by adopting an approach to online services that can be accessed within or outside the company’s boundaries.
To implement this strategy, information systems management must transform, open its technological platforms and rethink its modes of development.
The ambition of these modernization programs may discourage some companies. However, they can achieve significant short-term performance gains and lay the foundation for the company’s current and future strategic ambitions.
7. Blockchain: the economy of trust
The growing interest in blockchain is reinforced by the evolution of economic models and open trading systems. In particular, the development of the collaborative economy, based on the direct exchange of value between individuals (sale of goods, rental of apartments, carpooling, etc.) is observed.
The blockchain reinvents the notion of trust, establishes new ways of exchanges and interactions between individuals. The value of collaborative economics is conceptually close to the principles conveyed by the blockchain, such as the notion of peer-to-peer network and the disintermediation of exchanges.
Today, it is the trusted third parties who have quickly seized blockchain technology: banks, insurance, Swift…
Where to start with the blockchain? On a small scale, experiencing the potential of the blockchain on the projects that seem the most suitable and bringing rapid gains. And follow the movement by relying on the innovative companies and the most active communities, especially in the open source sector.
Example of application: Slock.it , start-up that allows for an apartment rental to connect the lock of your door to the blockchain. If someone wants to use your apartment, he carries out the contract rental payment that is tied to your lock on the blockchain. Once the payment has been validated, the door opens automatically for the person who settled the rental, for the duration corresponding to the payment.
8. Exponential technologies to stay ahead
The industrial applications of nanotechnologies, biotechnology, quantum technologies seem to be light years from us but in fact they are already developing.
Over the next 3-5 years, we expect to see a proliferation of pioneering initiatives based on these technologies. In this perspective, a growing number of information system companies are undertaking exploratory approaches to this or that exponential technology. They detect and analyze the forces of breakthrough innovation and put in place, in reaction, innovative strategies of innovation.
On this point, monitoring is essential for a radical innovation that allows the company to redefine its sector of activity or reinvent its operating model.
Example of application: In the field of nanotechnology, a company already produces a nanostructured and self-regulating lubricant, designed to meet high pressure performance, anti-friction, corrosion and extreme temperature stability in order to prolong the life and reduce the maintenance costs of mechanical systems.
Source: Deloitte 2017 Tech Trends (https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology/articles/technology-consulting-tech-trends-collection.html)