Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the author’s, “Managing Innovation & Disruptive Technology” column for Computerworld. For the full text of the article, including recommendations associated with each prediction, please visit “Digital Business Predictions for 2016”.
In 2016, as the race to digital transformation progresses, we’ll start to see the leaders separate themselves from the rest of the pack and set a firm pace that’s fueled by five essential ingredients: a deep understanding of digital disruption, the art and science of the customer experience, the next wave of enabling technologies, a mastery of digital services, and continuous innovation from ideation to execution.
Correspondingly, with predictions season in full force, here are five digital business trends which I expect to shape 2016, and their implications for business and technology leaders:
Digital disruption registers stronger and more frequent seismic activity
In 2016, we will see digital disruptions in the form of innovative, new industry business models, processes, products and services start to hit the marketplace in full force. Much like a seismic event, market activity will become stronger and more frequent with ever more digital services — with compelling new value propositions — entering the marketplace.
A true understanding of the digital customer experience starts to weed out the winners and losers
Many analyst firms are highlighting the importance of an obsession with the customer experience. Organizations that truly understand the full scope of the customer experience will pull ahead from those who focus too narrowly on a few aspects of the experience such as omni-channel support or elegant design. The full scope of the customer experience will incorporate a rich set of elements including value, engagement, simplicity, timeliness, accessibility, personalization, contextualization, intelligence, anticipation, sharing, listening, information, analytics, recommendations, safety, security, education and consent.
The new platform for digital business will spark a renaissance in enterprise architecture
With eight key technologies comprising the future platform for digital business, enterprise architecture will become a key capability in pulling it all together as companies embark on scaling their initiatives. The new platform will be powered by the SMAC technologies of social, mobile, analytics and cloud, together with personas and context, intelligent automation, the Internet of Things, and, of course, robust cybersecurity.
Intelligent automation, including both physical robots and virtual software agents, will gain traction in 2016 and experience a similar level of enterprise attention as the IoT did in 2015, and Big Data before that. With more initiatives to deploy at scale, automation will become vital to manage costs and to streamline operations not just in the data center, but across customer-facing services, employee workspaces, and enterprise processes as well.
Digital services mastery becomes the new watch word in IT effectiveness
In 2016, six capabilities will become essential for IT organizations to keep pace with the business demands of digital disruption. The six capabilities are agile development, DevOps, as-a-service infrastructure, intelligent automation, personas and context, and digital service management. They constitute the requisite skills needed for organizations to grow their business and build sustainable competitive advantage in the years ahead. It’s no longer sufficient to have an innovative set of products or services, you have to be a master of how you design, develop, deploy, manage and continually evolve your digital services as well.
Robust innovation programs will connect digital business strategy to execution
Finally, in 2016, corporate innovation programs will be used to greater extent to not only generate ideas for digital business initiatives, but to more rigorously govern and manage these initiatives all the way to execution. This will require programs that have a rich set of proven, repeatable tools and processes which can also cater to a wide variety of types of innovation from business model, to process, to technology.
In summary: Digital as the new team sport
All in all, you can see that 2016 will have a lot to do with digital business strategy, corporate innovation, and the digital customer experience, in addition to more IT-centric aspects of enterprise architecture and digital services mastery. The IT departments that succeed the most will be those that can work comfortably across all these dimensions in what’s become a team sport that spans the entire corporation.