Digital transformation has been a widely discussed topic for the past few years. The concept of IoT, cloud and edge computing, AR and VR have all driven the trends for digital transformation in the past few years.
In 2020, however, some truly game-changing innovations are on the door, and will redefine the term “digital transformation” once again.
Here, we will discuss 8 key trends that we predict will dominate digital transformation in 2020. However, let us begin by discussing the concept of digital transformation itself.
What Actually Is Digital Transformation?
The original idea of digital transformation, in its simplest term, is the transformation of all areas of a business, to integrate digital technology in all and every aspects.
When digital transformation is fully achieved, it will fundamentally change how the business operates and delivers value to its customers.
On the other hand, due to the increasingly digital nature of the world, digital transformation is no longer the organization’s initiative, but often a forced necessity. This cultural change can (and has) change the status quo and create its own challenges.
The trends we will discuss below will be related to both the challenges posed by digital transformation, its concept, and its benefits.
Trends in Digital Transformation
1.The Increasing Necessity of Data Analytics as Competitive Advantage
In the past half decade or so, seemingly with each and every year there’s always the talk of the increasing importance of data, including big data and data analytics.
However, it is quite possible that 2020 will finally be the year when data analytics become so important that it becomes a necessity. That said, companies that still aren’t investing in data analytics by 2020, probably won’t make it in the next 5 years.
More data will be generated, and from significantly more sources than ever before. Investing in modern data analytics and big data analytics tools to analyze customer and competition-related data to gain valuable insights will be necessary in maintaining competitive advantage.
On the other hand, these analytics tools are becoming more affordable than ever, so it’s quite likely that your nearest competitors have invested in one (or more).
When everyone is leveraging analytics for faster, more accurate decision making and find new opportunities, we can no longer rely on raw business instincts and the old-school style of running business.
We can see how across the tech world, all the giants are now consolidating analytics into their plan, like Microsoft with their Power Platform.
The future is data, and it’s quite possible that the future is now.
2. Faster Internet: 5G and WiFi 6
5G speed is running on track to be deployed in 2020. Verizon, for example, is confident that 50% of the US will have access to 5G connectivity in 2020. Some of the latest Android phones, especially the flagship models, are already equipped with the ability to receive 5G.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi 6 is already making its debut this year, and will work together with 5G connectivity to bring us (significantly) faster internet and processing speeds in 2020.
Faster internet speed will provide us with far more than a faster way to browse the internet and stream videos, but will also enable and accelerate new technologies like implementations like more IoT implementations, smart—automated—vehicles, smart manufacturing, and many more.
On the other hand, it’s expected that the number of connected devices on a WiFi network will increase by 500%. Today it’s around 10 or less, and it’s expected to be 50 in less than 5 years. WiFi 6 will enable this, as it can maintain the quality of data consumed through WiFi connection.
Faster internet speed for everyone, on the other hand, will also mean an increased risk for breach and other threats. This will also increase the demand for data security and privacy solutions in 2020, which we will discuss further below.
3. Digital Privacy and Security
Obviously there has been an increased attention for data privacy and security in the past half decade or so, especially after the introduction and implementation of GDPR in EU. Various incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal have also cause the growing demands in the U.S. to impose controls on social media and big tech companies.
We can expect this trend to continue in 2020, and we will see more companies and organizations that finally adopt privacy and transparency as the unique brand value. For example, by allowing users more awareness about data collection process (i.e., cookies) and an easier time to opt in or opt out of them.
Faster internet speed, as mentioned, will also mean an increased risk for data breaches and other security issues. IT security leaders like Cisco, Dell, and IBM are expected to develop working solutions to improve security and data privacy in 2020 and onwards.
Security and privacy will be the major issues, and we probably will see more data security-related incidents to occur in 2020. However, it will also be a huge opportunity and a field expected to grow significantly in the next few years.
4. Anything as a Service—Xaas—
The trend of XaaS, Anything as a Service, has actually started a few years back, but it gained a lot of momentum in 2019, and will continue to grow in 2020.
In the past, selling something as a service in a subscription-based pricing model is only available in the software-driven sectors (gaming, Saas, etc.) However, nowadays even the most hardware-driven niches have found ways to integrate XaaS.
Hewlett Packard—mainly known as printer manufacturer—for example, recently announced that by 2022, they would offer everything in their line as a service.
Anything as a Service has been gaining constant momentum in the past half decade or so, but we can predict that it will finally gain the mainstream attention in 2020.
5. Increasing Need of UX and CX
In the past few years, the trends surrounding digital transformation have mainly been the changes occurring within the companies.
Now that many companies—especially big ones— have got their digital transformation established, it’s time to shift our attention: from digital transformation in the company to digital transformation through the company.
This, comes in the form of improvements in User Experience and Customer Experience (UX/CX).
As businesses established their internal digital transformation, they can indirectly improve their capability to deliver more value to their customers: providing a better customer experience.
On the other hand, external improvements like faster internet (5G and Wi-Fi 6), better automation technologies, and better user interfaces with AI technologies, will allow 2020 to be a big turnaround in digital transformation with UX/CX-centered approach.
This will be especially true in service-related industries like healthcare, hospitality, and transportation.
6. Blockchain Revolution
Blockchain is something of a dilemma.
On one hand, it does offer tremendous potential and could probably be the game-changing solution for a true internet revolution.
On the other hand, its ties to cryptocurrency have somewhat delay its potential, and have caused it to stall in 2019.
However, it’s very possible that in 2020, we will finally see some productive applications of the blockchain technology beyond ‘just’ cryptocurrency (since the potential is far more than that).
Earlier this year, Amazon Web Services have launched their Blockchain as a Service (BAAS) platform, and many other big players from IBM to Samsung have announced their own versions.
Blockchain implementations are virtually limitless, and can revolutionize various sectors from intellectual property management, asset management, and so on.
It’s still fairly uncertain, but we might see the start of the true Blockchain revolution in 2020.
7. AI as Data Analytics Solution
It’s no secret that in 2018 and 2019, the applications of AI, and especially machine learning, are mostly focused on data analysis.
AI, and especially its machine learning and deep learning implementations, can provide three key benefits to data analytics: volume, velocity, and ease of use.
AI can now analyze huge data sets significantly faster than what it used to take in 2018, not because we now have faster technologies, but because machine learning algorithms have improved significantly in data analysis, and because the availability of the cloud technology has allowed us to scale AI.
On the other hand, AI’s inclusion in advanced analytics tools actually made them easier to use and more reliable than before.
Obviously, with the rapid rate AI is advancing, we can expect it to be even more faster, reliable, and accurate in 2020 than what it is today.
Simply put, if you are going to invest in data analytics in 2020, you might as well also invest in AI and machine learning.
8. Realization of IoT
Internet of Things (IoT) has been the buzzword for the past half decade or so, and the hype surrounding it has kind of died down in 2019.
However, with new technologies like 5G and edge computing to be implemented in 2020, we can probably see the realization of fully automated vehicles, drones, and Smart Cities.
Obviously Tesla is currently the leading name for these innovations, but other companies like Uber is also currently working on their autonomous car, and Amazon is currently developing a way to deliver goods using automated drones.
In 2020, we can probably expect to see at least some of these innovations to happen, and we will be one step closer to the true realization of IoT.
Compared to the previous years, the introduction of 5G and the (once again) advancements in AI will be the major driving forces behind 2020 digital transformation trends.
Faster internet speeds, provided by 5G and Wi-Fi 6, will enable other technologies and innovations from IoT innovations to breakthroughs in big data analytics.
In 2020, we can expect digital transformation to be more customer-centric, as companies will look for better ways to transform their organization digitally to provide value for their customers.