Five Strategies to Evolve Digital Transformation to the Next Level
By Don Schuerman, CTO, Pega
Over the past two years, a massive shift happened in the way we do business. When it came to digital transformation, there was a transition from “we’ll get to it” to “we needed to do this yesterday.” As a result, many organizations scrambled to get their digitally-focused projects up and running quickly in order to maintain business continuity. Now, businesses are taking a step back to review those technology decisions to ensure they are agile enough to handle future challenges – be it anything from new customer expectations, to a more distributed workforce, to unprecedented world events.
Brands need to ask themselves: now that we’ve committed to digital transformation (DX), where do we go from here? How can we be sure that we’re taking full advantage of our new tech stacks in a way that provides the most benefit to our businesses and society at large? Whether it’s building new systems of operation for a distributed world, harnessing the power of real-time AI to resolve issues faster, or doubling down on tech investments to create a better total experience for employees and customers, here are five DX trends we’ll see organizations implement to tackle these challenges and more:
Implementing responsible DX, not just DX for DX sake
There’s so much hype around digital transformation, but we rarely speak about irresponsible side of DX. Consider blockchain, for example, which famously came under fire from Elon Musk this year for the massive amounts of energy Bitcoin mining consumes around the world. Or AI, which is reaching into nearly every aspect of computing but still can exhibit racial, gender, or other types of bias when left unchecked.
Fortunately, new methods using significantly less computing power to validate cryptocurrency transactions are emerging, and tools are now available to identify and flag AI bias. Still, these are just a few examples of the myriad issues arising from DX – many we may not even be aware of yet. Over the past two years, businesses raced toward DX in crisis mode to help them survive the pandemic. Now, they have time to take a step back to evaluate their current solutions to ensure the benefits gained from the technology are sustainable and don’t adversely impact the world in unexpected ways.
Optimizing ‘distributed everything’ realities
Even before COVID-19, businesses were barreling down the as-a-service computing path. Now that working from home has shifted toward being the norm and not the exception, there’s hardly any aspect of business life that isn’t ‘distributed’ in some way, shape, or form. Centralization is officially dead: welcome to the age of ‘distributed everything.’ Now that everyone and everything is distributed, how can businesses ensure they maintain a market advantage?
The focus will turn toward implementing best practices to optimize newly distributed business operations for the best business outcomes. This means building better, more connected experiences between distributed resources, maximizing the power of distributed ecosystems, and ensuring people, processes, and technology all seamlessly work together and not against each other. This is the year “distributed business optimization” takes center stage.
Making AI real time for maximum impact
Not all AI is created equal – real-time capabilities will separate the most useful AI from the rest of the pack. It’s one thing to apply AI to historical data to find trends and patterns from the past, but businesses today aren’t living in the past – they are living in the present, and new customer demands are cropping up literally by the millisecond. The world is too connected and is changing too fast to rely on yesterday’s data to make critical decisions.
Many organizations will prioritize connecting their AI to live event streams and signals to analyze and act on them as they happen. By using AI in the moment, businesses can preemptively solve customer problems or make recommendations that are actually relevant and helpful. As more leaders shift in this direction and reap the benefits, competitors will follow suit, causing real-time AI to become table stakes by the end of the year.
Evolving efficiency toward experience
It would be naïve to think we reached maximum efficiency after all these years of trying to squeeze more from our systems and processes. With record-level turnover directly impacting customer and employee experiences, the urgency for experience-driven efficiency is as high as ever. There’s not a CIO in business today who isn’t facing pressure to reduce costs and increase production. Some have it worse than others as entire industries like travel and hospitality continue to be turned on their heads. Meanwhile, the new hybrid work structure, as beneficial as it is to many, opens a whole new realm of challenges. Businesses will need to dig deeper to hunt down inefficiencies to create seamlessly engaging experiences for both employees and customers, while balancing the current economic rollercoaster.
Knowing DX goal posts are constantly in flux
This is probably the most reliable prediction for any business: just when you think you’ve reached the DX finish line, that line will likely move another few miles down the road. Think of it like a fitness routine that needs to be maintained and evolve when necessary. There will be more emphasis on composable building blocks, not just in our technology – which can be done with low code – but also with people, as we look at ways to rapidly re-skill as needed. No one can accurately predict just what that next big disruption might be, but businesses with an adaptable and resilient architecture will be the ones that succeed.
The months ahead will serve as an opportunity for businesses to take a step back and think about digital transformation with a fresh perspective – one that focuses on long-term impact over short-term wins. While there’s no predicting how things will continue to shift, one thing remains constant: businesses that turn to DX technology impacting how work gets done and how customer needs are met will be those that come out on top.