2020 Top Trends for the Digital Transformation space

Predicting digital transformation trends is tricky. We can guess, but how do you tell if it’s correct?

Fortunately, trends are a measure of particular market interests. This means no need for a crystal ball, but instead, a dip into the insights of the industry and some observations of my own.

This post will start by looking at past business behaviours, taking into consideration the last three years of “Digital Transformation Trends” and trying to understand the direction we are going now as a result.

 

2017 – Forbes

  1. Adaptability – Organisations must learn to adapt to market situations, seeing the rise of Netflix, Monzo, AirBnb creates the thought to adapt to market
  2. Innovation – Bringing new ideas and different approaches to challenge the traditional methods of working
  3. APIs – Adopting lots of new Tools and Technologies require a single interface to work through
  4. Removing Silos – Teams still work independently, but with the bonus of a cohesive objective comes pockets of innovation
  5. Containers – Self containing changes ignoring infrastructure begin to merge in the market

 

2018 – ZDNet

  1. Refining and updating cloud strategy – Enterprises look to adopt a hybrid and multi-cloud solution
  2. Scaling Digital Change sustainably – Scaling transformation is proving difficult, especially with the lack of skillset in the market
  3. Culture – Changes in ways of working and our ability to adapt is creating a new breed of “engineer”
  4. Adopt emerging tech faster – The introduction of new technology and apps are hitting the market at an unprecedented pace, testing the ability for businesses to assess and implement at the same rate
  5. Serverless – Removing infrastructure and running code directly

 

2019 – CEOworld Magazine

  1. Machine Learning – Managing the datasets to help make informed decisions
  2. Customer Service and Retention – Being customer-centric becomes increasingly important to retain loyalty from customers and maintain market share
  3. Technical Talent – Small talent pool of people capable of performing all the tasks needed for the role. There is a desperate need to upskill the wider team.

 

What we can take from these past three years is a progression of technology that truly adopts the “DevOps” mindset. There is a greater focus on people rather than simply technology alone, and customer experience has become a regular on the business agenda.

But how can we say whether these trends, or any trend for that matter, is more than something that looks aspirational on a list? Fortunately, data is our friend.

Looking at Google analytics, we can see that interest in the above items grew significantly over the last three years.

For instance, the interest in Docker – container technology – grew almost double since 2017, and has continued to spark interest with new tools such as Kubernetes coming on the scene too.

Digital Transformation Trends 1

 

In the same vain, interest in Serverless grew 4x over the last three years, with the biggest jump gaining momentum during 2018.

Digital Transformation Trends 2

 

I think we’re in agreement that curiosity in the above terms has been on the rise, but more google searches don’t necessarily translate into market share growth or wider adoption of a technology. So how do you know if a trend has truly taken off?

Let’s look at Cloud infrastructure and associated technology as an example.

Digital Transformation Trends Google

 

Thanks to Google data, we can clearly see that the search term “cloud” has become of growing interest to joe public, but I would still argue that achieving great stats on Google isn’t the “end goal of digital transformation” – or how we should measure success of the new kid on the block.

I would also argue that whilst many tools repeatedly make the “top ten items to watch” lists, each tool needs to underpin a greater concept, and continue innovating as that concept evolves in order to survive.

Using the above snapshots as examples, Docker’s profile growth was not an isolated rise to fame. Docker became a household name because the concept of container technology became accepted as good business sense for technologists. Docker was simply a means to an end – and at the time, the best tool for the job.

In the same way, the term ‘cloud’ outperformed all of its associated technology, because it is the concept of cloud infrastructure people brought in to. How they get there come second.

But the tools are important here too.

The fact the term ‘cloud’ is on the rise could in itself be a coincidence, a sudden interest in an idea. But when search terms for the associated tools experience similar growth over the same period of time, you can begin to see market uptake; a trend if you will.

And then there’s a change in mindset and process.

Much in the same way we saw a shift away from manual labour towards waterfall processes during the industrial age, the more recent shift from waterfall to agile has been influenced by market disruptors introducing a more effective way of working that others can’t ignore. It’s becoming less about the technology, and more about the businesses value.

If I had to summarise how I feel people approach Digital Transformation has progressed over the last three years, I would define it as such:

2017 – Explore – We began to truly understand what it is organisations wanted to achieve with Digital Transformation, and started piloting different initiatives in response

2018 – Productionise – Taking the piloted initiatives, we took the value realised and began delivering it to the customer

2019 – Scale – Business looked at growing the success of these pilots across the organisation so they no longer sat in pockets. More time was spent strategising how to ensure consistency in process and execution of technological solutions, and the alignment of department KPIs to one coherent business objective rose on the CEO agenda.

So where does that leave us?

Based on all of the above, I see 2020 as the year of “Capability and Value”.

With this, I predict the likely trends over the next year will include:

  1. Capability uplift – There is simply not enough talent to meet the demands of businesses today. Talent will need to be trained inhouse, and culture evolved to help bring everyone in line with new initiatives
  2. Value driven results – ROI needs to be looked at to ensure investment brings the right return, not just counting resource costs, but also understanding the cost around opportunity and risk
  3. Customer and Employee experience – Ensuring any initiatives taken gives the customer and your employees the most benefits, and that you get a return on the experience you deliver.

The trends in this space have drastically moved from technology to value – and I have no doubt will continue to do so.

This comes down to organisations – regardless of the journeys they endure – tackling the same challenges during their transformations. The most common challenge is maintaining the initial uplift and drive from the business and preventing it from falling flat during attempts to scale successful practices across the organisation. Whilst some succeed, the most common result is pockets of success and disappointed stakeholders.

What’s interesting is that there is a real mix of enterprise operating in the market at the moment. Some retain a very “Non-IT first” focus and are yet to embark on a digital transformation journey, whilst others are in full swing, focusing instead on refining their digital approach.

To help accommodate both types of enterprise, digital transformation will continue to change as each organisation finds its own take – with practices evolving to cater these needs also. This will see many look towards Data Driven modelling and Machine Learning as we continue to find what is good and what needs improving. In fact, with value so high on the agenda, data will become ever more prominent, since the more data we can analyse, the better decisions can be made which will ultimately create success for your customer.

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More about the author: 

Jason Man began his career as a build/release engineer and has continued within professional IT services for the past 12 years. Today, Jason is highly regarded within the digital engineering space, having accumulated a wealth of skills and expertise across the full application lifestyle stack, after helping multiple organisations achieve digital transformation.

His specialties lie with Continuous Delivery, Continuous Integration, Cloud, Workflow Automation, Runbook Development, Software Configuration, Environment, Release Management and Infrastracture Deployment.

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