Exploring the Future of Digital Transformation and Disruption

March 2016


Digital transformation and disruption have been making waves lately across all industries. To stay relevant, companies, departments, and individuals need to know exactly where business technology is headed, and be sure to stay on top of each shifting digital trend.

What Experts Predict

Every year large research firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC use predictive analysis to gain an understanding of what the future of technology may look like. This year, most companies are far behind the curve. Forrester research indicates that only 27 percent of operating companies currently have a working digital strategy, but researchers at Gartner and IDC are expecting large growth in initiatives and digital revenue over the next 4 years. Some of the specific predictions that trends and analysis suggest include:

  • The rise of digital revenue streams will change business models – Until recently, IT departments did not serve direct revenue generating functions. With the creation of more digital revenue, initiatives, and challenges, IT departments will play a much larger role within companies of all sizes.
  • Many jobs will evolve – IT professionals will need to expand their reach to new software and devices. As the fields of robotics, AI (artificial intelligence), and IoT (Internet of Things) evolve, many workers will need to develop new skill-sets to manage these technologies.
  • Big data will be more important than ever – For recognizing shortcomings, new opportunities, and streamlining processes, big data will become a staple of business strategy.
  • Connectivity will accelerate digitalization – The growth of the IoT, in particular, will drive the vision, data usage, and evolution of jobs and processes. As more devices connect more people in useful and collaborative ways, every enterprise relationship will change.

All of these predictions have one thing in common – change. Companies, departments, and individuals need to accept the new reality of constant change to find a place in the digital future.

Accepting the Future of Change

Authors and strategists often talk about the path of digitalization as though there is a clear blueprint for going digital and disrupting the marketplace. There are some common trends in how successful organizations have adopted digital technologies, but no set of rules can promise digital success.

In fact, it’s often what we can’t see that will make the most profound impact on the future. Ten years ago, people thought digital media would render newspapers and traditional media completely obsolete. What they didn’t imagine was the fluid connection between print and digital media that many individuals rely on today. If you flip through a newspaper now, you will find twitter handles, interactive codes, and website addresses. Online, you will see advertisements for print.

The evolution of digital media has significantly affected journalism and media outlets, but instead of shrinking the fields as predicted, digitalization has created more opportunities than ever before.

Driving Innovation with Vision

Henry Ford is attributed with saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Consumer-centric goals and big data are important, but they will only take digital transformation so far. The truly life-altering changes often come from visionaries who can picture the future and the steps that will bridge the gap between current and future technologies.

Companies need to see what consumers want, but they also need to develop a penchant for recognizing what consumers may not know they yet need. For Ford, the assembly line was only a means to an end—his competitive advantage was his vision for mass-market vehicle manufacturing. The businesses that succeed in the next 5-10 years will recognize the need to change their strategic mindsets, embrace constant change, and take calculated risks.

Preparing for a Future of Change

In the future, we can easily see an increase in geographical connectedness and mobile device use. Computers will become faster, even smaller, and more intuitive than ever. Life will start changing at a more rapid rate. Technology may squeeze out old jobs, but it will also create new ones.

We may not be able to clearly see the effect those changes will have on our work and lives. Yet. Companies may not even see today how they will enact change tomorrow. One thing is for certain—as long as we can embrace change, the future remains full of possibility.  

This article was written by Daniel Newman from Forbes. 

This reprint is supplied by BNY Mellon under license from NewsCred, Inc.  

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