2019 is going to be a very different year than the past few years. 2017 was a "pedal to the metal" year where almost all were making forward momentum with digital. 2018 started strong, but there was a shift to "steady speed" over acceleration. Many economic experts are now predicting a slight dip in growth which means businesses will be hovering their foot above the break pedal just in case the turmoil in the markets takes a sharp turn. What does this mean for business investment in Digital? This blog will be my best shot at predicting the likely trends.
The Business Context for 2019
The business focus is going to hit hard on operational efficiency and effectiveness as this plays well in any kind of market. There will be a laser focus on leveraging what works well to manage the cost side of the business equation. Even though revenue opportunities may be less than in past years, organizations will still create better experiences for prospects and customers. Businesses will try to attract customers away from their traditional and non traditional competitors. There will be a larger rush for talent that is being hard sought already with the low unemployment rates that look to persist for the next year. There will be a big effort to hire experience, especially in the rare digital skill arenas. Growing competencies and skills will be a big theme inside and outside organizations.
The Digital Focus in 2019
Given the business context above, the efforts will be on applying intelligence to every digital opportunity organizations take. This means a narrowing down of the digital focus to what delivers cost saving best or new customer revenue the most. All of this must be done in a fashion that supports agility while gleaning benefits. Last year I identified 10 areas of digital focus and this year because of the democratization of AI, I can focus it down to the five that follow here:
RPA has been a great boon to operational productivity, especially when combined with its propensity to leverage low code techniques. RPA cuts costs and delivers a better experience for certainly employees which leaches over to customers. RPA will become smarter by leveraging machine learning driven mining techniques to automate even more tasks. The bots will start developing an IQ to expand its influence from brawn activities to now include brain activities.
Customer focused and reputation rich activities will expand to include optimizations that include customer needs; not just organizational needs. Customer optimization platforms will go beyond organizational goals to include customer goals and include conversational AI where needed. New and improved journeys will emerge through both the measurement and modeling of customer journeys. Modeling will be used to understand the customers journey now and map future paths that serve the customer better without losing organizational goals. This will include suggesting changes where both the customer and the organization win.
While processes may become smaller in scope with less central control, they will be come smarter and closer to the action. Making processes goal driven and constraint governed with intelligence will allow them to exist on the edge including in IoT heavy solutions. By adding machine intelligence and mining activities, processes can be guided by looking at actions in real time or over time. These processes, process snippets or mini-workflows will become more popular in 2019
Making decisions just by studying data is a solid approach that needs augmentation. While the amount of data to study is growing at amazing rates, this does not mean it is the only area to focus in on for decisions. This is what I call decisions by discovery. It also important to identify scenarios, opportunities and threats that can impact behavior and operational responses. Identifying these important decisions, modeling them and allowing them to be translated in to advice to humans and directions for actions for software and machines of critical. Adding AI and algorithm approaches to scenario planning and key decisions is critical. Modeling most decisions in a business representation another intelligent step that is gaining momentum.
Resources whether they be humans, software or machines, will benefit from timely additional intelligence provided by just in time events, patterns, images, content, and knowledge given in single or multiple contexts. These data sources could be mined by multiple machine learning assists and even amplified by single or multiple algorithms. These resources graduate from simple and specialized in nature to become smarter and supercharged for complexity. These resources can now handle ever changing work loads and conditions with great recognition, decision and action powers for organizations.
Businesses will be more pragmatic than ever in 2019, but they will not overlook the advantages that intelligence can add to their automation and revenue raising activities. Intelligent organizations will watching for signs ahead to decelerate or accelerate when appropriate. Focusing on adding intelligence to already successful efforts will pay off in 2019. The opportunity to add intelligence is significant in 2019 and will continue for the future