5 Digital Transformation Trends in 2019
Arthur C. Clarke once observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. He was describing a technique in writing fiction about the future. Today, we live in magical times, and peering into a crystal ball to see what the magicians are up to next is what a digital transformation consultancy seeks to accomplish. Here are our thoughts on the top 5 digital transformation trends in 2019. Believe it or not, this is not magical thinking.
1. Gee, is 5G finally here?
Almost. There’s been a lot of talk about 5G (fifth generation) cellular networks over the last few years, and there are finally some preliminary rollouts. For example, Verizon announced 5G home broadband service this past October. So far, these are limited implementations and wider availability isn’t expected until mid-2019, and even then only in select areas. Plus, there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem that existing smartphones aren’t compatible with 5G. Apple, for example, isn’t expected to provide a 5G capable iPhone until 2020 at the earliest. While carriers are providing 5G hot spots in the meantime, so far live services are aimed primarily at businesses in major cities.
Moreover, speeds are not nearly what is expected for 5G networks. As The Verge reports, while so-called “real world” 5G demoed speeds are three times faster than a typical connection, it’s nowhere near promised gigabit speeds. This is great news for digital marketers. Faster speeds enhance ad experiences, meaning better overall performance. In fact, 46% of consumers report that they dislike waiting for pages to load the most when browsing the mobile web. Faster capabilities could support a positive shift in how people feel about digital ads.
Still, every journey begins with the first steps, and 5G is taking them. Those first steps lead to more than just faster speeds, but significant digital transformation. This transformation will lead the way in fully realizing the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, drone delivery, self-driving cars, and who knows what else? So, while 5G is taking off slowly, once it starts to gain momentum, it will be transformative.
2. AI, aye!
Digital devices create and collect data. But as Daniel Newman points out, we’ve created 90% of the world’s data in the past year, yet only understand about 1% of it. Business analytics can help organizations understand all the data they’ve collected and what to do with it. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are critical to sorting through all of this.
An AI system that can make decisions based on vast quantities of data faster than the speed of the human mind has the potential to not only transform industries but human lives. To name just a few: medical decisions can be made more quickly and accurately, crops can be grown and distributed more efficiently, cities can get smarter and provide better transportation systems and social support networks. And finally, digital advertising will benefit too. Celtra’s platform already relies on AI for creative optimization and automation. Overall, the evolution of AI will lead to more personalized, and therefore effective, digital ads.
3. Chatbots chattering
A related AI innovation leading digital transformation is the evolution of software robots (or bots) to perform tasks that, up until now, were handled by people. Just as robots freed workers from boring, physically demanding, and often dirty assembly jobs on the manufacturing floor, software robots are taking over repetitive back-office functions such as invoice reconciliation, providing opportunities for workers to focus on more creative, problem-solving tasks.
One example is the chatbot, which is software that can perform certain predetermined automated tasks and respond to human queries, such as, “What is my bank account balance” or “How do I get to Ninth Street from my present location?”, in natural language that mimics human conversation.
Some fear this digital transformation may lead to the disappearance of jobs, while others argue such it will create more meaningful types of work. Of course, technology replacing traditional work roles is nothing new; it’s as true of the first Industrial Revolution as it is of the Fourth Industrial Revolution currently underway. While the elimination of jobs some doomsayers are predicting is hardly imminent, as Professor Todd Landman points out, “Jobs are changing; the relationship between individuals and the market is changing, and the ways in which we are part of large physical and virtual networks are undeniably changing.”
4. Blockchain as a Service (BaaS)
Blockchain – digital blocks of information stored in different locations that can be controlled by multiple entities – is a technology that has been around since the ‘90s. It is most famously associated with bitcoin. However, blockchain’s decentralized systems have other applications besides finance and are likely to see widespread adoption across a number of industries, particularly in IoT implementation. Why? It’s a highly secure communications network that can provide data assurance across emerging 5G networks and public clouds.
An emerging trend is Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), which allows companies to develop and use blockchain apps and functions supported by a cloud-based service developer. This essentially addresses the developer talent shortage faced by many companies, which is limiting their ability to advance technologies.
BasS provides businesses with blockchain technology and infrastructure as well as training and support for a fee. The bottom line is that the cost of implementing blockchain technologies will cost less and involve fewer resources while ensuring the highest levels of security. Consequently, blockchain technologies can be built and managed more rapidly.
With greater security, marketers can ensure better targeting in their digital ads. As John Licata notes, “Taking the burden of difficult [to develop blockchain apps will allow a wide range of businesses to adopt blockchain into their existing platforms…there are dozens of industries that blockchain could disrupt. These include cybersecurity, academia, government, music and arts, even ridesharing.”
5. AR is a reality
While VR (virtual reality) facilitates the visual illusion that you are fighting dragons or walking through a building, AR (augmented reality) adds to what you are seeing in the real world by projecting data or holograms or other objects that provide information. Pokemon Go is an example of an AR app for consumer entertainment. Business applications include furnishing instructions to factory floor workers so they never have to leave their work locations, lug equipment, or sift through heavy binders.
AR could also be used for remote troubleshooting or to accurately place a part in a piece of equipment. From a marketing perspective, “The widespread embrace of AR could very well lead us to shift from single-instance marketing campaigns, and more toward a consistent communication channel that drives a direct dialogue with end users that are contextually relevant,” observes Caspar Thykier.
Michael is a professional technology writer and content strategist with an app development background.