The last decade saw an unprecedented adoption of digital transformation initiatives. Technologies such as cloud, mobility, analytics, automation, AI (artificial intelligence) and the likes enabled enterprises to reimagine everything from customer experience to business growth. These technologies came, they reigned and they transformed. Every facet of enterprise strategy bears the sweeping impact of these technologies and their transformative touch. Digital innovation is reaching new heights and ushering in digital maturity and adoption at scale.
Technology is taking huge strides in the areas of hardware, software/services and human experiences. These developments are inter-related and their intersection compounds their impact on transformation. Here are the top trends set to make a mark in 2020:
Quantum computing, 5G and autonomous things top the list of advancements in hardware
- Quantum computing: With the competition for quantum supremacy becoming intense, 2020 should see advances in quantum computing where it begins contributing to the real life by powering complex AI applications.
AI and quantum computing will emerge as two sides of the same coin. For instance, a quantum computer could help enterprises that process voluminous transactions at super speed to develop virtual assistants that have high contextual awareness and almost human-like sensitivity towards customers.
- 5G: Although 5G has gained significant momentum, and some operators have begun offering high-speed services in dense urban locations in some countries, challenges persist. When it comes to the scale of deployment, operators can deploy 5G at a larger scale, but with low band. A combination of 5G+4G (non-standalone deployment) facilitates optimal coverage without compromising on the data demands of customers. Moreover, most devices in the market are ill-prepared to support 5G yet. In 2020 and the years ahead, manufacturing companies will catch up to build devices that support 5G.
- Autonomous things: AI, ML (machine learning) and deep learning are equipping robots, drones and autonomous vehicles to act and control their environment. Gartner stated that the leaders of enterprise architecture and technology innovation are gearing up to take advantage of the opportunities presented by autonomous things. Amazon’s package delivery through drones and automated warehouses are prime examples. The year 2020 will see the introduction of many more autonomous devices to empower humans.
In the software/services area, expect hyper-automation, digital workforce and AI-based security to mature
- Hyper-automation: Hyper-automation goes beyond desktop automation to integrate systems and automate core business processes to amplify the organisation as a whole. It involves everyone in the organisation to be part of the transformation journey. With RPA (robotic process automation) at the core, hyper-automation will leverage people, processes and tools such as AI, analytics and deep-process mining to scale up automation capabilities and unlock unforeseen efficiencies.
- Digital workforce: With the power of RPA, AI and ML, digital workers have incredible potential to augment the human workforce.
Digital workers can analyse like humans, and execute with the speed and accuracy of robots. A digital worker can automate the entire process without any supervision. As digital workers become mainstream in 2020, it will usher in a new future of work.
- AI-based cybersecurity: With the growing number of interconnected systems, the threat of cybersecurity looms large. AI-based attacks have increased significantly and enterprises are turning towards highly-sophisticated AI cybersecurity (offensive AI) to counter the advanced attacks in the modern threat environment.
A focus on amplifying experiences for both customers and employees will drive conversational commerce, ambient experience and citizen access
- Conversational commerce: This offers a convenient and smart way for customers and businesses to interact. Conversational commerce is possible through AI-powered chatbots coupled with cognitive intelligence to deliver an augmented and personalised customer experience. Enterprises can shorten the time it takes to satisfy customer needs, right from the first greeting to the final payment, and redefine customer experiences through conversational commerce.
- Ambient experience: Enterprises are swiftly moving towards offering ambient experiences across omnichannel. The rise of AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality), along with a cohesive integration of knowledgebase and CRMs have made ambient experiences a high possibility — especially in environments with high customer interactions. AR, VR and MR have emerged as compelling options to provide premium customer experience by harnessing the power of AI to merge the virtual and real-world seamlessly in real time.
- Citizen access: Building reusable applications through low-code or no-code platforms, or drag-and-drop interfaces is the new norm. The industry will witness rapid democratisation of technology, which will allow people to access technical expertise easily and create technical solutions without any extensive training on the necessary skills, eg: citizen data scientists and citizen programmers. Organisations would rely on AI-driven development and automated testing so that all employees can contribute to it.
Technological advancements across hardware, software/services and experiences, and their controlled collision are pushing the envelope of innovation with every passing year. These technologies are high in value, maturity, or both, and together they are redefining the way organisations operate and create value in the ecosystem.
Rahul Joshi is the head of innovations and platform lab, and the lead scientist at CSS Corp