Looking Ahead: ‘Digital Transformation’ Tops List of Tech Trends

by Granville Triumph

granville-new-trendsToward the end of each year, IT industry analysts, consultants and research firms publish their predictions of the technology trends that will gain the most traction in the coming months. This year’s trendy picks sound like the stuff of science fiction: augmented ad virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomous vehicles, robotics and 3-D printing.

Most organizations, however, are focused on more familiar technologies. Cloud computing, mobility and data analytics remain high priorities as organizations attempt to navigate the fundamental changes brought by “digital transformation.” In fact, research firm IDC says that two-thirds of CEOs at Global 2000 companies will put digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategies by the end of 2017.

Digital transformation is about more than simply implementing new technologies. It’s about altering business processes and models to fully leverage technology to achieve unprecedented levels of productivity, enhance the customer experience, drive innovation and create competitive advantages. Experts say that organizations must embrace digital transformation to be successful. Those that don’t risk being displaced by more agile and responsive competitors.

Cloud computing is powering digital transformation, changing both the way we work and the workplace itself. It also forms the foundation for business agility by eliminating the need to build infrastructure to support new ideas and initiatives. But the cloud is more than an infrastructure alternative. Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud providers to create a service-driven computing model. Most analysts expect continued migration to public cloud platforms as organizations seek the flexibility to match services with a wide range of requirements.

From a practical standpoint, digital transformation occurs with the effective convergence of mobility and cloud computing. The infinitely scalable compute and storage capacity of the cloud enables organizations to deliver applications, services and data almost anywhere on the planet via a growing array of mobile devices. By enabling multiple users to share and sync data in real time, mobility has become integral to business operations. In addition, many organizations are expanding their efforts to create mobile versions of enterprise apps in order to increase productivity and equip an increasingly mobile workforce with needed information.

The continued exponential growth of data — powered in part by the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) — is also driving a surge in data analytics initiatives. Data collected from Internet-connected devices makes it possible to look for patterns that deliver specific business outcomes. The need to analyze IoT data in real time is encouraging investments in big data projects. In a recent global survey, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that executives across various industries rank big data and analytics as the key to their digital transformation efforts. Fifty-eight percent said they plan to invest heavily in big data and analytics technologies in 2017, compared to 36 percent for mobile computing and 29 percent for cloud-based applications.

IT industry analysts say a continued focus on these technologies will bring new opportunities for innovation, process improvement and customer engagement in the coming year. Digital transformation may not be as sexy as other technology trends, but it holds the key to business success in 2017 and beyond.

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