Organizations are beginning to look at emerging technologies more holistically, with an eye toward coordinating them in pursuit of objectives, according to Deloitte's Tech Trends 2018 report. These organizations aren't thinking of big data, the cloud, and other disruptive technologies as separate domains. They are looking at how the technologies can complement each other, the report finds.
They also are pushing responsibility for technology up the corporate ladder, from chief information and technology officers all the way to the CEO and board. "We now see many forward-thinking organizations approach disruptive change more strategically," says Bill Briggs, chief technology officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP. "Increasingly, they are focusing on how multiple disruptive technologies can work together to drive meaningful and measurable impact across the enterprise." Tech Trends 2018 identifies eight trends that may drive organizations over the next two years.
After many years of using IT to reengineer the organization, IT departments need to reengineer themselves, the report states. Bottom-up change should focus on modernizing the organization's underlying IT infrastructure through automation, and by repaying "technical debt" accrued from software design, physical infrastructure and systems, and maintaining legacy systems. Top-down reengineering should focus on building a new operating model for the IT function that breaks down silos and establishes multi-skill teams aimed at delivering specific outcomes. Rather than seeking funding for specific IT needs, the report recommends IT functions budget in a way that applies resources to support strategic goals.
Forget white collar and blue collar. The workforce of the future will combine people and machines working together, the report predicts. "As automation, cognitive technologies, and artificial intelligence gain traction, companies may need to reinvent worker roles, assigning some to humans, others to machines, and still others to a hybrid model in which technology augments human performance," the report states. The good news is automation probably will not displace most workers. Instead, people and machines each will bring specialized abilities to the equation. Organizations will need to redesign jobs and reimagine how work gets done, the report notes.
Enterprise Data Sovereignty
Increasingly, organizations want to make information accessible across business units, departments, and locations, the report finds. Within the next two years, many organizations will modernize their data management approach in a way that balances the need for control and accessibility. Setting data "free" will take more "modern approaches to data architecture and data governance" in making decisions about data storage, usage rights, and understanding relationships among data, the report notes. Moreover, organizations will need to address data issues in three areas: management and architecture, global regulatory compliance, and data ownership.
The New Core
Discussions of disruptive technologies often overlook how technology can "fundamentally change the way work gets done" in an organization's back-office operations and systems, such as finance and the supply chain, the report states. Organizations have much to gain from connecting front-office systems to back-office operations that support pricing, product availability, logistics, and financial information. Over the next two years, the report predicts organizations will build a new core that incorporates automation, analytics, and interconnections with systems and processes. Instead of seeking tools to address specific tasks, organizations will look for technologies that can support complex operating networks and new ways of working, the report says.
The report notes that organizations implementing technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and immersive technology are starting to move beyond experimentation to focus on building mission-critical applications for the workplace. It suggests three design breakthroughs that may accelerate digital reality:
- Transparent interfaces that allow users to interact with data, software applications, and their surroundings.
- Wearable augmented reality/virtual reality gear that gives people "ubiquitous access" to the internet and organizational networks.
- Contextual filters that enable users to adapt their level of engagement in virtual environments — like a virtual reality mute button.
Blockchains to Blockchains
Although many organizations are testing the waters, the report urges them to start standardizing on the technology, people, and platforms needed to build blockchain initiatives. The report predicts organizations will go from initial use cases to fully deploying production solutions, with a focus on applications that can be commercialized. It also expects organizations to integrate multiple blockchains within their value chain.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) traditionally have been an IT concern, but the report notes they are becoming a business matter. While APIs enable systems to interact, many businesses want to use them to make technology assets available for reuse enterprisewide. The ability to build and reuse APIs "is key to achieving business agility, unlocking new value in existing assets, and accelerating the process of delivering new ideas to the market," the report says. To do so, organizations need to find ways to make APIs known throughout the organization, and manage and control them.
Exponential Technology Watch List
The previous trends focus on technologies that are moving into the mainstream, but the report's final trend looks forward to future innovations and their potential impact on organizations. These "exponentials" may emerge at different times, with some coming within the next five years and others likely to take longer to arrive. That doesn't mean organizations should wait to plan for new innovations. Indeed, without the capabilities, processes, and structures needed to innovate, organizations may risk missing out on opportunities that could bring "transformative outcomes," the report concludes.