Digital transformation is a hot topic within the business world, but in my opinion, many organisations are yet to fully understand what exactly it entails or what it may imply. Before an enterprise can even think of implementing the latest digital transformation trends, they need to first look at digitisation – and digital process transformation in particular. Digital process transformation focuses less on big innovation and more on improving processes, streamlining workflows, and creating a well-oiled, IT-centric operation.
For many enterprises, taking the time to overhaul everyday processes can be overwhelming. Rather than addressing the problem in small, incremental chunks using a phased approach – such as starting by prioritising business processes to digitise – they get caught up in the idea that they have to completely transform the way they do business. This all-or-nothing approach has led to stagnation, ultimately pushing digitisation and digital transformation projects to the back-burner or worse, by investing in vendors and consultants without understanding the businesses needs or requirements.
Based on the trends we’re seeing, I believe that digital transformation projects will be pulled back down to earth in 2018, with a primary focus on digital process transformation. Once-inefficient business processes are overhauled, and organisations better understand the processes that bog down operations and stagnate growth and innovation, enterprises will shake the operational restraints that have hindered their digital transformation aspirations – moving them closer to the paradigm shifts that exist beyond where digital process transformation has previously stalled.
So heres the top digital transformation trends to keep an eye out for in 2018.
1. Emphasis on data security will increase
For many organisations, collecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a necessity of doing business. When this sensitive information is stored within a system that isn’t secure, or when this information is shared with the wrong people, an enterprise could have a sticky situation on their hands. 2017 was the year of security breaches with the likes of Gmail, LinkedIn, Yahoo, The NHS, Uber & eBay all experiencing PR nightmares through data breaches.
With the rise of ransomware threats over the past few years, the need to protect PII is more pressing than ever. Increased legislative measures, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are also set to be enforced in the upcoming year. This will affect many businesses of all sizes, particularly those that do business within Europe. Organisations that are not compliant risk stiff fines and penalties, which further reinforces the need for technologies that allow businesses to identify and protect sensitive information.
2. Data will develop beyond the database
When most people think about data, they imagine an Excel file or a SQL database. In 2018, this definition will finally expand. Technology is available that can read documents just like a human would, meaning that the original source won’t matter. Instead of focusing solely on the structured data stored within a business, organisations will have to start thinking about the file formats available, from PDF reports to scanned-in JPGs and more.
Based on the digital transformation trends we’re seeing, I believe that the division between structured and unstructured data will begin to diminish in 2018. The Big Data and Data Lake projects of the past few years will incorporate more business information than ever before, allowing businesses to make decisions using all the information available – whether that data exists in a database or not.
This trend will also help augment the overall customer experience. Once data rules are in place to ensure automatic processing, customers can submit information in any form they’d like – from email attachments to text messages and more – and everything will be seamlessly captured, processed, and incorporated into the appropriate data bucket.
3. Enterprise search will come into its own
The issue of slow and inefficient search is a relatable one. We’ve all been stuck scrolling through endless search results, hoping that the document we need will soon be unearthed. Inefficient search isn’t just a nuisance, though. When employees spend hours searching for the content they need, critical workflows are slowed considerably. Over time, a minute here and an hour there adds up to a pricey operational challenge.
In the coming year, the issue of search ability will be met with viable solutions. Once organisations eliminate their redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) content, half the battle will be won. And once machine-based intelligence is implemented through a range of enterprise software solutions, efficient search will be reality. In 2018, enterprises could also see the rise of the “if you searched for this, you might also like this” functionality that exists across many personal applications.