Five Predictions For Digital Transformations In 2018
In 2018, the digital revolution will continue racing ahead, and companies will have no choice but to adapt. Retailers have already begun using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the customer experience. Financial services firms have embraced robo-advisers, payment processor Square just announced that it will allow almost all customers to purchase Bitcoin and Amazon’s Alexa is helping to usher in a new era of voice-activated shopping.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are five additional predictions for the year ahead in tech.
1. Speed Will Become The Most Valuable Currency
In 2018, I think consumers’ options and expectations will be at an all-time high. In response, companies that understand this new reality will recognize that speed-to-market is an indispensable asset. As a result, they'll roll up their collective sleeves to create systems that help them better understand their customers. They will iterate and experiment, and they may occasionally fail as a necessary part of their learning process.
To this end, senior leadership will have to gather small, multifunctional teams of digital changemakers and completely liberate them from politics, bureaucracy and local goals. Their only goal should be to delight the customer. This fit-for-purpose, mini-company will be a learning machine and will be able to craft experiences and products so quickly that they will become a new kind of organizational structure.
2. Industry Leaders Will Explore The Power Of Blockchain Technology
Last year, we witnessed blockchain technologies like Bitcoin become mainstream. In 2018, I expect to see companies across industries -- from financial services to retail -- tap into blockchain technology.
In fact, IBM and Walmart (a current client of ours) recently joined a partnership with Chinese retailer JD.com to help improve food safety and security in China. Imagine if retailers and food distributors could clearly see and validate where a crop of fruit was grown and how it was delivered to its destination -- complete with every stop it made along the way.
But there’s more: Blockchain technology will also help streamline healthcare records. Medical facilities across the U.S. use a range of incompatible systems to store medical data, so it’s not hard to imagine how difficult it can be to share medical records across hospitals. Now, imagine instead that your medical records are stored in blockchains. This could help reduce inaccuracies in your records and simultaneously improve health outcomes.
3. Voice Search Will Drive Consumer Behavior
Natural language processing has advanced to the point that voice-enabled technology will soon be in everything from home appliances to cars. Alexa and Siri are already household names, and the Amazon Echo and Google Home (disclosure: Google is a current partner of CI&T's) were selling for as low as $29 during the recent holiday season.
Who needs to type in a search nowadays when your voice can do the trick?
By some estimates, 50% of searches will be voice-activated by 2020. Not only will we be able to conduct more searches without lifting a finger, more people will be using smart devices to hear their favorite song, check their bank accounts or get reminders that their favorite show or game is about to start. Indeed, companies that are trying to win customers in today’s day and age must have a plan in place for the voice-search revolution.
4. AI-Powered Experiences Will Become Accessible To Everyone
If you look at many tech giants, they understand how important it is for companies to have AI-capable systems at scale. Consequently, they will begin providing more cloud-based options for companies that want to leverage the power of AI.
What does this mean for consumers?
Companies will have access to a new set of tools to power the AI experience, which will lead to an array of new AI-powered experiences. For example, within its trove of new cloud computing features, Amazon has unveiled new AI tools that can turn speech into audio files or text while translating between seven languages. We’ll see a number of companies leverage AI to detect when customers are getting frustrated, then offer a solution that salvages the customer experience.
5. Algorithms Will Transform Retailers’ Operations
In December 2017, the retail sector lost 20,000 jobs -- even though the holiday shopping season was the best on record. Why the disconnect? The fact is that online shopping has replaced brick-and-mortar retailers, and companies like Amazon and eBay are reaping the rewards.
Meanwhile, with the growth in online shopping, the robots aren’t necessarily replacing humans, but we should expect to see them help create richer experiences in retail. Algorithms have been cranking out recommendations for purchases for years. Next, we’ll see a greater reliance on algorithms and AI to power retailers’ operations. For instance, algorithms and AI will play a role in everything from corporate sales and marketing to human resources and inventory management.
A Vision For The Future
We have all witnessed firsthand the dramatic pace of change across industries, much of which has been driven by advancements in technology. While some companies are frustrated in their attempts to keep up, I think the new year is the ideal time to press the reset button and develop a vision for improving the experience of their customers and employees alike.