Top 10 Digital Trends for 2018

Jim   Sinur
Jim Sinur VP and Research Fellow, Aragon Research Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by Jim Sinur

2018 is a pivotal year for organizations going digital.  Since organizations have had a long gestation period and a number of years for experimentation, there'd better be implementation of action plans.  2018 promises to be a year of action and extraordinary change.  There will be new ways of working, new habits, new technologies, and new challenges.  This is a people challenge as well as an organizational challenge.  Nobody is exempt.

1.  Digital Accelerates

2018 is the year of doing digital.  While planning and experimenting with digital has been important and will continue in the background, this is the time for delivering real organizational and personal outcomes.  Understanding where digital is gaining traction and applying it for results will be themes for 2018.  Success will breed success in 2018, so getting started quickly will be more important this year than ever before to continue momentum.

2.  Customers are Everything

For obvious cost and revenue reasons, keeping customers loyal is crucial.  The emphasis on customer experience completed in the most delightful way, while optimizing a balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, is the goal for digital organizations.  Outcomes that revolve around customer, employee, and partner satisfaction is the end game of digital done right.  The ideal is for customers to have customized interactions in order to maintain relations for life.

3.  Automate It Baby

Organizations will focus on automating low-skill tasks and jobs by adding smarts and processes that can deal with emerging conditions and contexts.  As more success occurs, higher-level jobs will be impacted by automation or automated assists.  Operations will become leaner because fewer workers will be needed to do the same work.  Human insight will still dominate for generalized work, but savings are ripe for the picking.

4.  Make A/I Real & Democratized

Augmented intelligence will become the most important step towards full A/I.  There will be a new collaboration between people, machines, and software that is aimed finding important patterns, making complicated decisions, and taking appropriate actions as fast as possible.  Augmented intelligence will become popular because of the benefits that people will experience through extending their intelligence.  This will build confidence for A/I to become more autonomous and pervasive.

5.  Industrial Cloud Dominates

Cloud will no longer be just an operational destination to create presence and reduce cost.  Cloud will provide a level of security and intelligence that organizations will not likely be able to deliver on their own.  Right now there is a lot of momentum for private cloud, but the temptation of an intelligent and secure cloud will move more organizations to a more public presence.

6.  Software Eats the Cloud

While the cloud will become more potent, it is an operational platform and does not allow for organizational differentiation provided by unique business models, processes/applications, or customer experiences.  Over time, the cloud will become a commodity, and the war will be on price.  This means that the software that resides on the cloud will make the real differences for organizations and individuals.

7.  Deliver on Data

It makes no difference if the data is big, fast, or dark — organizations will start delivering on the value of the data they actually have.  While IoT and emerging processes will greatly contribute to the volume and speed of data, simply gathering data will not be good enough.  Finding the bright spots in the mostly-dark data for operational improvement and customer care will be the focus.

8.  Eliminate Speed Limits

Speed to action will become a key differentiator for both product/service design as well as response to customers, employees, and partners.  This means that the speed to sensing will be key, even if there is no IoT contribution to the process or application.  IoT will add more of the need for speed and the ability to absorb complicated patterns of sense and to respond.  This will put an emphasis on faster decisions and actions.

9.  Context is Everything

Knowing how to respond is one thing, but understanding the effect of the response in context is quite different and important.  This is particularly important when the context is new and emergent or when the combination of contexts might change the response.  This is why human and A/I judgment need policies, rules, and constraints to keep responses proper for the situation.  Proper management and governance to guide interaction is a key consideration.

10.  Action at the Edge

There is a trend to take action closer to where the patterns are sensed.  This means that a pure centralized-control model will not add as much value as breaking down large processes and applications into micro services and process snippets that reside at the edge, to sense and respond close to where the event occurred.  Quite often this edge is closer to customers and controllers/sensors, where decisions and actions can occur with high levels of freedom.

Net; Net

The proof of digital will show up in a big way in 2018 and will lay the foundation for years to come.  Organizations have money to invest into new digital directions and digital skills.  2018 will be the year that many organizations will point to as a turning point — up or down.  Digital will make the difference, but we will have to learn how to properly combine these trends productively over time.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Jim Sinur, "Top 10 Digital Trends for 2018" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2, (Feb. 2018)

About our Contributor:

Jim   Sinur
Jim Sinur VP and Research Fellow, Aragon Research

Jim Sinur is an independent consultant and thought leader in applying business process management (BPM) to innovative and intelligent business operations (IBO). His research and areas of personal experience focus on business process innovation, business modeling, business process management technology (BPMT), processes collaboration for knowledge workers, process intelligence/optimization, business policy/rule management (BRMS), and leveraging business applications in processes. Mr. Sinur was critical in creating the first Hype Cycle and Maturity Model, which have become a hallmark of Gartner analysis, along with the Magic Quadrant. He has been active in the rules, data and computing communities, helping shape direction based on practical experience. Mr. Sinur has vertical industry experience on the investment and operational sides of the insurance and financial services.

Read All Articles by Jim Sinur

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