An astounding 60% of corporate leaders say they are behind the digital transformation curve, according to a recent report by Forrester. Indeed, the stakes are growing as new challenges emerge and intensify around a global skills gap, privacy issues, and rapidly changing customer demands, which are driving an imperative to, at the very least, keep pace with the digital marketplace.
As we look at the year ahead, here are five trends that we expect will be pushed to the top of boardroom agendas in 2018.
1. The rate of digital transformation will increase exponentially: Enterprises can’t orchestrate digital transformation across the business fast enough. We can expect to see executives even with the smallest appetites for digital realizing that instead of hindering waves of progress, it’s time to embrace the digital tsunami leading to the sea of transformation.
The inevitable consequence of modernizing back-office systems will inevitably drive closer and more accelerated cooperation between departmental and service silos with more seamless customer journey experiences. As companies start to look down this path, they must take a deeper look at where they want implementations and changes to take place. It’s essential for enterprises to make the right changes, as focusing on something other than customer experience can be a big mistake.
2. Privacy will become the top focus for companies: When it comes to data breaches, more companies will begin to shift their focus from prevention to detection and response. The cybersecurity industry is expected to triple in size in the next five years, with a third of U.S. technology jobs focused squarely within security. As a result, we will see far more demand from enterprises to renew legacy systems so they can increase consumer confidence in their ability to protect their personal information and respond in real time to threats.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has even redefined the importance of privacy as a “fundamental human right,” thus raising the bar higher and opening the door to new conversations about how best to balance customer privacy, transparency, and national security. Given the advent of a digitally connected IoT ecosystem, the risks of hacks proportionally increase with the opportunities and conveniences, creating an increased urgency for cybersecurity to keep up with technology advances.
3. Investments in closing the global talent gap: The pace of change in the physical, digital, and technological worlds is disrupting our definition of what’s “normal” at work and at home. Enterprises are seeking new and innovative ways to efficiently respond to the increasingly complex nature of their internal and external business climates.
Enterprises are taking necessary steps to address the dilemma of assembling and developing an adequately prepared workforce. Employers in all industries will continue to face an ever-widening shortage of specialized roles, such as data scientists, cybersecurity pros, software developers, and experience designers, that are critical to customer experience and digital transformation. Both public- and private-sector organizations are realizing they need to invest greater resources in new ways to collaboratively equip people with skills to respond to global opportunities and challenges in order to create the digital workforce of the future.
4. A new generation of designers will be driven as much by technology as creative: Yesterday’s graphic designers are today’s UX designers—and they will be tomorrow’s data designers, avatar programmers, and more. Design has quickly matured from a mostly creative endeavor to a field tasked with solving complex, layered technological and social challenges. This will be exacerbated as companies enlist designers to address increasingly complex challenges from autonomous cars to bioelectronics.
In this intensely transformational age, the next generation of designers will be measured by advanced skills and experiences across five interconnected domains:
- Objects and artifacts
2. Services and experiences
3. Systems and platforms
4. Security and privacy
5. Strategy and vision
As an example, Gartner predicts that by 2021, 40% of IT staff will be “versatilists” who hold multiple roles—most of which will be business- rather than technology-centric. Design as a profession will evolve into a hybrid industry that is driven as much by technology as it is by creative. Designers will embrace new technologies and standards that continue to change rapidly. Data has become a critical new medium for our lives.
5. Companies will search for ways to open organizational apertures: Global enterprises naturally develop multilayered structures composed of different departments, entities, and stakeholders whose perspectives are limited by the context in which they operate as well as familiar, comfortable frames of reference. The limited perspective, coupled with the complexity and increasing flexibility of organizational models, has led to myopic, compartmentalized, and decentralized strategies and operational divisions. The result is disconnected silos and capabilities with narrow apertures into systems-level external and internal pressures and challenges.
As anyone familiar with the pitfalls of organizational silos knows, when viewed through small apertures, either big problems or big opportunities can be distorted and mishandled. As a result, organizations will increasingly search for ways to use technologies to open their own apertures to define opportunities, risks, and challenges holistically. When organizational problems can be reframed, we can create more durable, impactful solutions for an increasingly uncertain, asymmetric, and complex digital world.
As enterprises solidify and accelerate their commitment to digital transformation, they will need to employ a holistic approach that not only keeps pace with the changing digital marketplace, but also takes into consideration their entire end-to-end ecosystem, including leadership, employees, partners, and customers.