5 Digital Trends to Watch

With the current pace of change, being aware of impending or current digital trends is critical for maintaining dynamism in the business model. What innovations or tools are important for your business to stay relevant and integral to becoming a part of the digital age business model?

The environment within which organisations now operate are more volatile than ever before. Businesses must gain and exert a measure of control of the constantly changing dynamics in the environment, fraught with the headwinds of digital advancement and the unknown. How control can be achieved depends on the strategic and timely deployment of change. Success also largely depends upon the speed of adoption of change  – being aware of the main trends can affect the speed and effectiveness of take-up.

The primary approach and the assumptions underlying change strategy should be that leaders and business need to reckon with and be ready for change and digital, in as many respects as possible. The new ‘operational readiness state’ is defined and validated by digital awareness and capability, implemented under several interrelated elements. The People, Security, Data, Collaboration and Learning elements are explored below.

Talent Acquisition

When considering which digital trends to watch, the item ‘People’ may appear not to be strictly a digital element, but as skilled and highly capable employees underpin strategy and perform the work to be done, it is worthwhile to review the trends and constraints in this area.

The first challenge is attracting and retaining talent and there are still some real constraints in finding staff who are as digitally savvy as is required. Increasingly prevalent are technologies using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cyber-security and Data analytics for which it is a very tough market in which to get the right people. Attracting being one obstacle, retention is yet another and in order to do so, companies will need to consider their Digital People Strategy, a primary strand of which must be that employees should be encouraged and enabled to start and run their own initiatives based on their interests. Businesses that can plan in and implement these practices will contribute greatly to their Digital Readiness.

Related to the People element is the human computing intersect of the digital space. AI, RPAs and humans will need to co-exist in a space where humans, even with all the proliferation of office technology over the past 30 years, have been largely dominant, fully in control and driving the direction of application and analytics. With the rise of the human-robot dynamic, this is set to change drastically with increasing tensions at interaction and utilisation points.

The Rise and Rise of Cyber-Insecurity

Cybercrime, with its systems, practitioners and methods,  an increasingly important digital trend, is growing at an exponential rate and while response rates have risen and readiness is improved, businesses are still only playing catch up to a large extent, not least because gaps in everyday security are tripping up unsuspecting legitimate users of company systems, causing frequent incursions and ever more sophisticated and furious attacks.

To successfully combat the many inevitable attacks, People and Digital Risk frameworks should be developed and/or changed to incorporate greater staff involvement, in a more coordinated and regular process to increase and sustain vigilance, awareness and intelligence to ward off potential security breaches that people might otherwise overlook, fail to report or fall foul of.

The Growth of Collaboration

Collaboration is an as yet largely overlooked landmark on the path of digitisation and is a dependency for advancing business’ digital capabilities, generating business value, speed of delivery and contributing to increased competitive advantage in absolute terms.

The scope of collaboration is not limited to internal stakeholders and advantages accrue and compound for the ability to collaborate with external as well as internal stakeholders, from suppliers to customers. Cooperation across functions, geographies and business lines ceases to seem counterintuitive, creating huge efficiencies and transparency through cross functional integration of processes, and therefore in helping to gain task clarity and timely input from all relevant parties. Of course, the tools chosen for collaboration must be fit for purpose and suited to the shape and working practices of the organisations. Ideally, the tools should help to improve those too.

Data Insights

Business insights transferable at speed across different teams generated through the application of data mining and analytics will be a definitive catalyst of radical change in  the coming decade, not least in the customer experience space. These will be gleaned from human intelligence and customer data and other data available in the organisation.

High Velocity Learning

Instituting and exploiting high velocity practices and techniques is central to becoming an organisation that contend with the speed of change while positioning your company to adopt the change and tools that will create greater digital capabilities and enable business to compete. Businesses need to be aware of the latest digital trends and implement tools and solutions that are the standard in your sector. Implementing Cloud Computing will need to be prioritised and planned for, as will Big Data.

Champions, charged with decision making and budgetary authority to review and make the case for tools that should be adopted and then ensure that there is headroom in the budget to acquire these tools, should be appointed.

One of the simplest but yet most significant adoptions is ensuring integration with and a managed presence, on social media, along with an analytics capability and a clear social media strategy.

A programme to discover businesses processes that lend themselves to automation should be undertaken, Automation is the gateway to realising true efficiencies in your business and the process to decide what can be automated should lead to an overall streamlining of your process. Dependent on the size of your business, enterprise resource planning tools, while not new can provide a great platform for promoting and understanding a logical flow of your business structure.

Finally, fostering an innovation mindset and building an bedrock on which to securely build and catalyse innovation, through the building out of an innovation ecosystem.

Chinenye Ikwuemesi

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