Last year, we had the benefit of leaning on the recent findings of our inaugural Cycle of Progress digital transformation benchmark study to inform my predictions. This global survey examines global business leaders’ hopes and fears about emerging technologies, and reveals which technologies they are actively implementing to drive the digital transformation of their business—versus which ones are yet to live up to the hype. Based on our findings, I see several technologies continuing to lead the way in 2019, namely Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
The evolution of IoT
More than half (53%) of Cycle of Progress respondents say that they have adopted IoT in some shape or form so far. Already well established in many businesses, IoT applications and services are leading the pack in having the greatest positive impact. And the future looks bright, with 48% of decision makers seeing it as having the most significant impact, ranking above any other emerging technology in our study.
Also read| Apple suppliers face china iPhone sales exposure challenges
I see the technology being implemented in a more meaningful way in 2019, as more interesting use cases arise across vertical sectors. I’m particularly excited to see how IoT can support sustainability projects such as creating new ways to battle food waste in the agricultural industry. In 2019, I believe that IoT – supported by advanced connectivity solutions such as 5G and LoRaWAN—will continue to go from strength to strength especially in emerging markets such as India, where a staggering 69% of Cycle of Progress respondents reported to have adopted the technology.
AI goes mainstream
This brings us to another data-driven elephant in the room: AI and Machine Learning, which are increasingly being integrated into a variety of services, making the technology far more accessible and digestible than it was just a few years ago. According to the Cycle of Progress, AI has already been adopted by 46% of global businesses like ours in some way. Despite the scaremongering around the potential negative impact of AI on people and jobs – just 8% of business leaders who took part in our survey have no plans at all to start using AI.
Blockchain finds a new lease of life
Perhaps one of the most hyped new technologies of the digital era is blockchain. Shared ledgers like Blockchain have the potential to enhance security while also boosting efficiency and speed. While the outlook for digital transformation in the coming year is positive, implementing new technologies like Blockchain is not without its challenges. In fact, business leaders cited cost as the biggest barrier to integrating new innovations, while security and privacy were also highlighted as major challenges.
A constant cycle
Over the course of 2018, ‘digital transformation’ has become such a widely used term and much-hyped concept that it can be easy to forget what it actually means. I like to think of it as a constant cycle of progress. To make a real difference to the bottom line, technology-enabled business transformation must have speed, scope and impact. While our study shows that there is more work to be done to enable organisations to maximise the potential of the latest technologies, the future is bright. Next-generation innovations like IoT, AI and Blockchain are set to have a huge impact in 2019 and beyond, with businesses aspiring to harness these technologies to evolve constantly.
The writer is chief digital officer, Tata Communications