Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Is Digital Chasing Hype or Progressing?

It appears that the days of hype-hopping for organizations that want to make digital progress is nearing an end. The downturn that we are facing will sober us to be diligent in what methods or technologies we chose to reduce costs, cut time to change, and optimize revenue opportunities. It's time to be pragmatic for the average organization and look to what popular technologies will deliver tangible benefits quickly. 

Obviously, if you are an investor looking for new markets to make investments in, those technologies that have the sizzle and are hot are your cup of tea. If you are an investor who looks to ride older technologies to profit before it sunsets, your days are going to get busier. The average organization will be looking for steady progress towards better profitability with better customer experiences supported by lots of cost-saving automation. This blog will identify those newer technologies that can deliver that delicate balance.

Let’s start by looking at popular technologies by impacts and time frames with the eye towards long term results.  I've placed popular technologies on a timeline and classified them by their biggest impact area in Figure 1. Often these technologies start at the infrastructure level to build upon for software vendors or organizations to build upon. When combinations of these work together, then the packaging of development and infrastructure technologies/methods results in business impacts. 

An example would be that Customer Excellence results in the leverage of CX, ChatBots, Omnichannel, Journey Mining, BI, AI, Knowledge Management, CRM, Voice, Mobile, Cloud, and APIs. Many technological influences have benefited from the evolution of technologies over time, which you can track over the decades. Industry 4.0 would not be possible if it wasn't for bar codes, middleware, networks, DBMSs, Process, GPS, APIs, QR Codes, IoT, Supply Chain Logistics, and Fast Data.

Figure 1 Timelines of Popular Information Technologies

Newer Technologies That Deliver

While many of the established technologies have and will continue to deliver, there is a special set of technologies that will bear the weight of fluctuating economic and geopolitical situations. Here are my favorites that deliver desired outcomes today and will grow well to tomorrow:

Customer Excellence:

  • Customer Journeys for creating better customer experiences and improved touchpoints 
  • Mining for measuring actual customer, process and resources behaviors for experience upgrades
  • Digital Assistants for knowledge assisted help for customers and employees
  • Voice / Video for making the interaction more real and possibly more entertaining
  • BI / AI providing analytical assists with goal-driven data/information consumption for opportunities or threats 


  • Agile Methods for time to market delivery that leverages incremental change and adjustments
  • RPA for step automation of  high volume, tedious, and repetitive tasks 
  • Low-Code for time-sensitive proof of concepts, time to market delivery, and legacy replacement
  • Process Mining for improving processes, and locating automation opportunities
  • Machine Learning for identifying or automating goal, policy or rule changes 

Net; Net:

Hype hopping seems to usually only work for early investors or organizations that are the cash cows who love to find the next big thing. The rest of us will want sure things that deliver short term results while growing to a longer-term set of desired outcomes. It is time to carefully map our digital plans with a practical and experienced eye while striking a balance between short term CPA mentality and the vision of the executive management team. I hope the above figure 1 can help with that effort.

A special thanks to Craig Hayenga, my rocket scientist and software pro friend/neighbor who reviewed figure 1 and gave me ideas or corrections for this blog. 

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