Organizations are now challenged in new ways; therefore, they must budget very carefully, as we advance. There will be a tug of war between accelerating digital and dealing with budget reductions for IT investment. Gartner, affectionately known as "The Big G" in my circles, has predicted IT budget reductions. At the same time, businesses are being pushed to accelerate digital transformation. Savvy organizations will save with technology to invest in technology to break through this set of apparent conflicting goals. Organizations will be careful in deciding what to invest in to survive, thrive, and capitalize on these dynamic and challenging times. I will try to lay out the five most important technologies to invest in to keep these conflicting goals in balance.
Continuous Intelligent Automation & Cost Optimization
Automation has come on strong through the use of RPA, Workflow/iBPMS, and Low Code solutions as of late. Now I see an extension of the accelerated use of both guided by both Process Mining and AI. Continuously, process mining offers extreme visibility for opportunities to handle outliers or optimize on process/case yielding time and labor savings. Machine and Deep Learning will also play a guiding role in finding more optimization opportunities over and above what the human eye can detect across various mining visualizations. The pressure for quick improvements with fast feedback cycles will push more detection of options to intelligent software or machines as responsible AI continues to develop. The savings from these profitable efforts can be applied to future digitization efforts. These efforts can be multiplied by using Software as a Service (SaaS) in some instances.
Human Augmentation & Skills Expansion
As more automation pushes humans to higher-skilled pattern detection, advanced Decision Intelligence, and smarter actions, humans will use technology to enhance a person's cognitive and physical experiences. There may be sensory augmentation, perception augmentation, and AI cognitive assists in enabling higher-skilled work levels. In the case of physical responses, appendage assistance, and exoskeleton leverage may be enabled. Imagine having the assistance of experienced experts in your ear, eye, or mind to accomplish more challenging tasks. The new worker will have interactions with technologies that will enable super skills and accelerated outcomes. This will start small and accelerated by the end of 2021.
Immersive Experiences & Visibility
All constituents will have more immersive and pleasing experiences, making them more informed and satisfied. Customer Journey Mapping/Mining technologies will allow organizations to get real-time and truthful feedback from their customers, employees, partners, and vendors to help improve their experiences on a continuous basis. Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality has the potential to radically influence the direction of improved customer experiences, product supply, and value chain services. These new visibility assists can give customers a real sense of progress towards their outcomes when balanced with organizational processes. Some organizations have seen the value in onboarding and immersive training in a safe and realistic virtual environment.
Augmented & Real-Time Data Management
The amount and speed of data are increasing faster than our ability to manage it. Big data is turning to a complex and multi-head monster of data types with various different requirements. Managing all the data and data types will require assistance. Data marketplaces and Exchanges are emerging to add to the data chaos. Managing the various data sources will need to leverage the Database of Now integrating various data sources in the cloud, AI's ability to learn from the incoming flood of data, and the metadata that defines it within its various contexts and workloads are essential. Dark data will start to be better understood. Data journeys and transparency will be assisted by practical Blockchain that enables data traceability.
Autonomous Bots & Edge Computing
Autonomous bots/agents that bid on work at the maximum and minimally perform activities on "the edge" with AI help. Edge processing, data collections, and decisions are placed closer to the information and activity source to sense, decide, and respond closer and in the proper context. Often the IoT is where this occurs when machines, sensors, and controllers are involved with physical activity, but there are instances software, Digital Twin, or not have a presence at the edge. Often these activities are semi-autonomous and supervised today, but we are moving to more autonomy over time. Smart spaces, smart production, and smart value chains will drive these kinds of efforts. Look for robots as a service (RaaS) to elevate some of the data density issues.
Every organization will have to match their operating plans to the technologies above and decide what they want to take on within their cultural and risk limits. The danger here is to focus on technologies that can contribute to short term financial results to the detriment of the future. This is true with short term cloud efforts without thinking of the total cost of ownership. Grab some profits, but invest wisely to compete digitally in the future. Negotiate with your financial folks, please or hope they get more innovative.