As we enter Q4, businesses are under pressure to execute their planned activities; however, it is also an ideal time for leaders to look further afield towards 2020, taking stock of what digital transformation will mean for their business, and how they can prepare as the digital world continues to evolve.

What will digital transformation look like beyond 2020?

The evolution of digital transformation is dynamic and fast moving, with 2020 already being heralded as the year of 5G. This obviously means faster smartphones, but the impact is more far-reaching, accelerating advancements for smart cities and manufacturing. Businesses can also expect faster connectivity enabled by WiFi 6, with much faster processing and wireless connection speeds. The trend for analytics will also continue, with businesses everywhere leveraging sophisticated analytics tools to identify problems, opportunities and solutions to gain a competitive advantage.

AI and Machine Learning will become force multipliers for data analytics, offering speed, scale and convenience. It has been predicted that Blockchain will have a rebirth in 2020, moving beyond its cryptocurrency status to become useful in areas such as food safety, intellectual property and real estate management. Investment in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will be significant, particularly in the manufacturing sector where it will be used to augment and enhance existing workforces.

In 2020, we’ll see Always-Connected PC (ACPC) transform the laptop market forever, with embedded 5G and LTE connectivity and longer battery life. The combination of Edge Computing and 5G will bring us significantly closer to truly autonomous cars, drones and smart cities. Conversational AI will move ahead at rapid speed beyond 2020, with technology that can isolate human voices from noisy backgrounds and accurately process natural language in real time.

What is driving the digital transformation agenda?

Companies are increasingly experiencing pressure to become more productive and efficient, driving the digital transformation agenda. To remain competitive in the digital age, businesses must optimise current assets, people and resources to either improve productivity and quality with the same inputs or maintain current productivity and quality with less inputs. Adopting technologies such as Edge Computing will optimise efficiency, helping to implement operational excellence strategies necessary for future business growth.

The increased private sector emphasis on EHS&S (Environmental, Health, Safety & Sustainability) also drives the digital transformation agenda. EHS&S was once a nice-to-have; now, the urgent need for action on climate change and the imperative of ensuring staff safety have acted as a wakeup call for leaders to make EHS&S a priority in business digital transformation planning.

The edge on security

As digital transformation increasingly becomes a business necessity, Edge Computing may offer the answer to seamless asset optimisation and integration. This technology’s power can be found through smart logistics, machine learning, and factory asset management, as it can bridge the gap between sensor-enabled assets and cloud-based analytics. In an increasingly connected world, Edge Computing is being looked towards for its role in centralising functions, gaining data connectivity and increasing security.

Preparing for digital transformation? Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. Don’t invest in tech for tech’s sake. Identify the issue(s) within your business that actually require a solution and ensure the digital technology in which your organisation is investing is there to solve a genuine business problem.
  2. Figure out if it’s what you need. Digital transformation is the buzzword of the moment. But like so many trends that emerge, its definition isn’t always clear. Companies may think they are making strides towards digital transformation, but what’s really happening is digital optimisation. Optimisation is more internal, focusing on improving operational efficiencies, while transformation is more strategic and focused on creating a new digital business model. Your business may only need optimisation in the digital space, rather than a full transformation.
  3. Involve the right people. As with any major business decision, it’s essential to get the right people on board – either internal or external to your business, with both domain and technical expertise. Choosing the right partner to develop and deploy a digital transformation project is also key to its success. IT departments must also be ready to play a leadership role in digital transformation, and while IT leaders may have the confidence to support the technical aspect of digital business transformation efforts, don’t let poor cross-functional communications hold back technological progress and innovation.
  4. Have a solid risk strategy. Increasingly, the biggest risks to any business with a digital presence are cybersecurity threats. Just like meeting someone with a cold creates the possibility that you could pick up the same bug, increased connectivity in your business creates more opportunities for cybercriminals to introduce viruses into your system. Investment in cybersecurity protection is essential to safeguard your business, as the cost of attacks could be much higher than recruiting or co-sourcing IT security experts.

Digital transformation is already upon us, and this trend is only going to grow as we move beyond 2020. Ensuring your organisation is prepared for an increasingly digital world – and has the necessary resources in place – is essential for any business wanting to remain competitive. To get ahead, get savvy with Edge Computing, as it will continue to play an integral role in the digital transformation experience, ensuring your business remains relevant and competitive.