The Internet, smartphones, and data science were already shrinking the world before the pandemic hit. But it definitely accelerated the adoption of existing digital tools and the development of new ones. With workforces worldwide suddenly adept at operating virtually both professionally and personally, technology that once seemed novelty has become a necessity. The economic inertia created in this level of shift makes now an excellent time to revisit digital transformation trends and how they will affect future business life.
Six Digital Transformation Trends Leading the Way in 2021
1. Block Chain Meets Real-World Practicality
Though mention of cryptocurrency causes eye-rolls, we see a maturation of the underlying block chain technology. Block chain has long seemed a solution in search of a real-world problem. Two recent uses demonstrated the technology’s real-world application, which leads us to believe we will see more. First, the flood of digital artwork incorporating Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to verify providence of the original.
The $69 million (USD) sale of the piece “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by artist Beeple kicked off that flood. More recently, NFTs are being offered to verify the authenticity of digital events tickets.
2. Cybersecurity Maturity
You know things are about to change when major news outlets begin to grasp the nuances of cybersecurity. We are barraged with stories about state-sponsored hacking, data attacks demanding bitcoin ransom at levels from government to personal, and near-constant reminders to protect our personal data.
Expect this to spur industry changes ranging from legislation mandating security improvement to overwhelming demand pulling more companies and individuals into the cybersecurity field.
3. Users Demand Privacy
Europe led the way with right-to-be-forgotten laws. California’s new do-not-track privacy laws are now pulling the U.S. in this direction. Apple’s back-and-forth with Facebook, Google, and others over user-level control of personal data not only gives users control, but it also makes them aware of just how much data they share.
We expect a shift in how users understand and view their control over data, which is likely to narrow the business models of companies that have built significant profit centers from selling user data. This affects everyone from Facebook and Google to much smaller businesses and app developers.
3. Virtual Office Here and Now
The pandemic forced companies to close offices worldwide. The resulting explosion in the adoption of virtual office tools turned novelty platforms into necessities. For instance, the flood of people using tools like Zoom to hold virtual meetings moved a somewhat niche practice into the mainstream. Demand nearly put Zoom out of business, but it rose to the occasion.
Microsoft, Google, and others with similar platforms raced to improve their technology to meet demand. The workforce became so adept at virtual collaboration that it’s now resisting returning to the office. Expect continued adoption of new virtual office technologies.
4. Hybrid Cloud Solutions Flex
The concept of a hybrid cloud was already gaining traction with major organizations. The concept boils down to a mix of proprietary on-premise and cloud-based computing solutions that allow an organization to flow its data and tools to wherever they are needed.
The pandemic helped this concept prove its value to business leaders everywhere as unexpectedly large swaths of the workforce were suddenly home-bound. The hybrid cloud allows companies to protect proprietary data within data centers while providing exceptional flexibility to a constantly moving and reorganizing workforce.
6. Artificial Intelligence Lets Itself In
AI has served as a source of novelty and consternation in the public mind. iPhone users employ Siri to answer novelty questions. Science fiction luminaries and Elon Musk warn it will soon supersede human intelligence. What many fail to realize is that it drives technologies they are already comfortable with.
AI drives (at least partially) many of the large-data collaboration tools embraced via the virtual office. It also drives everything from YouTube recommendations to vehicle navigation that routes you around traffic. This casual familiarity will pave the way for greater adoption at all levels.
The original list for this topic originally touched on more than 20 possible trends, but these six stood out for their immediately-tangibility and future plausibility. The world is just now emerging from a crisis and made large shifts in how it embraces digital tools at all levels. This created and continues to create opportunities for those who will create and manage them. Contact us today to discuss how our expertise can help your organization.