As our increasingly digital world changes how we work, businesses are constantly on the lookout for more ways to keep their operations lean; that is, to continue delivering value for their customers, while eliminating wasteful processes.

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation—and their pivotal role in driving customer-centricity—this may very well be what 2019 has in store for companies looking to augment their digital strategy.

But more than just ramping up their investments, businesses also need to make sure that the value of digital transformation is understood across the organisation.

With that in mind, what will be the next wave of tech trends that would drive disruption in 2019?

What are some IT challenges and opportunities we should buckle ourselves up for?

Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Customer-centricity is crucial to customer satisfaction, which is becoming more elusive.

With the bar for great customer experiences only becoming higher with each passing year, meeting the demands of customer expectations will be challenging.

This is because more companies are embracing digitalisation—tapping on digital technologies to enhance their processes—which will see customers growing accustomed to convenience and information at their fingertips.

No longer is swift and personalised support a good-to-have; it’s now integral to customer satisfaction.

To that end, AI and automation will play a bigger role in facilitating better customer experiences, helping businesses to see to their needs quickly.

But more than just responding passively, companies should innovate by leveraging on existing data to offer services and solutions to their customers proactively—making customers the centre of their customer experience strategy.

Fast-changing expectations and behaviours are taking many by surprise—and the key is making sure you’re always one step ahead.

2. There’ll be an upsurge in demand for managed services and outsourcing.

With the fragmented market of Internet of Things (IoT) devices—from mobile devices to multi-functional printers—and networks, demand for managed services and outsourcing will see an uptake, with businesses looking to partners and providers to deliver the expertise they need, but don’t have.

This stems from a global shortage of talent and IT skills, with a survey from Gartner even predicting that there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings—and not enough talent to fill them up.

Meanwhile, traditionally outsourcing is also evolving, and is now imbued with automation; a vast majority of organisations—93%, in fact—are looking towards robot process automation solutions.

While costs used to be the main reason behind businesses turning to outsourcing services, it’s clear that this is no longer the case anymore.

3. AI and automation are more indispensable than ever.

According to Gartner Vice President David Cearley, the future will be “characterised by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere”.

This stems from the popularity of AI and automation in recent years, which can help businesses minimise tedious, manual labour and even make more sophisticated decisions.

In fact, according to Forrester, the robotic process automation (RPA) market is poised to reach $1.7 billion in 2019, and $2.9 billion in 2021.

Moreover, automation is said to also eliminate 20% of all service desk interactions—and I can foresee the same happening for redundant business processes too. Its associated costs can then be used to free up more time and funds, and devoted to more crucial business functions.

4. Accelerating your path to digital transformation remains necessary.

Digital transformation is far from a novel concept, having been an industry buzzword for several years now.

While businesses are aware of its importance, CIOs will be facing even greater pressure to transform and modernise governance policies, while still realising successful digital strategies.

As a result, some may consider giving their businesses’ IT an overhaul, such as by ensuring that digital transformation is addressed across the entire organisation.

By that, this include getting everyone on board in terms of the technical skills required to support these initiatives—not just the C-suites and management level—without neglecting the cultural impact of such a change.

5. There’ll be an increased focus on security and compliance.

Gartner forecasted that worldwide spending on IT security is set to increase, reaching more than US$114 billion in 2018—an increase of 12.4% from 2017.

In addition, privacy concerns will drive at least 10% of market demand for security services through 2019.

This, I believe, is in light of devices becoming more interconnected.

Security lapses within IoT devices and network—including network printers—are attractive targets for cybercriminals and even malicious insiders.

The impact of digital regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shouldn’t be overlooked too, for they can complicate both digital transformation and security efforts.

There are now greater laws and regulations around data protection, which translates to greater liability costs for security breaches; fines for non-compliance can reach up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s worldwide annual turnover.

Source via Xerox