Businesses hoping for a quiet year after 2020 were no doubt surprised by the even faster pace of transformation in 2021. Companies of all shapes and sizes were forced to ramp up digital innovation journeys, driving everything from data-driven sustainability initiatives and cloud-first remote working solutions to tackle constantly changing circumstances on the ground. What's more, this momentum shows no signs of slowing down.
One thing is clear, ongoing transformation was – and remains – the key to staying ahead of the curve. To find out more about what kinds of transformation we can expect in the year ahead, I spoke with Ollie O’Donoghue, Senior Analyst at Teknowlogy, in a recent podcast.
Here's what we discussed:
A shift to adaptive operating models
Today, every successful organization needs to be able to adapt to constant, unpredictable change. COVID-19 provided us with the first indication of a growing business necessity — to be able to innovate fast and effectively.
But while much of the change instigated by the pandemic was difficult and short-lived, organizations can create a permanent shift in their operations by creating an adaptive operating model, built on modular architecture that’s resilient enough to react to adverse events quickly. You can do this by implementing composite architecture, one made up of packaged business capabilities built on a flexible data fabric. With a modular design, you can recompose when needed, and remain adaptable in the face of disruption.
In 2022, we expect many businesses to make this a priority and seek out enterprise solutions that give them the flexibility to pivot their operations at a moment’s notice.
The transformative potential of 5G
5G has managed to capture headlines for years, as speculation continues as to when the technology will reach mass adoption. While it’s true that 5G has been slow to get off the ground, huge deployments, and accelerated implementation in 2021 has led many to believe that 2022 may finally be the year that 5G goes mainstream.
The technology promises faster speeds, seamless connectivity, and low latency as standard, but these benefits aren’t the only exciting prospect of 5G – it’s the future applications and use cases they enable. We expect 5G to be the catalyst for many digital transformation initiatives, powering a whole host of technologies like AI, edge computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.
Only time will tell if 5G becomes widespread enough to bring this technology to life, but organizations should start preparing for the transformative impacts it can have on their business.
Environmental social governance (ESG) becomes a priority
In 2022, we anticipate a continued focus on ESG, as organizations put sustainability and responsible business at the heart of everything they do. This will likely lead to increased investments in areas like climate, diversity, and the environment.
The reason for this trend is simple: ESG policies have become a clear criteria of distinction for consumers and customers alike, influencing who they work with, buy from, and invest in. With consumers voting with their feet if they don’t think businesses are doing enough to safeguard ESG - and RFPs increasingly demanding clear-cut proof of tangible ESG commitments - standards are getting higher, and businesses can’t afford to do nothing.
The answer is to put ESG front and centre in all your transformation initiatives. And indeed, we’ve already seen companies of all shapes and sizes doing this. Amazon, for example, recently announced details of the climate pledge which will see the business become carbon neutral by 2040, an ambition quickly matched by others in the tech space. And other businesses - like ServiceNow - are creating tools and platforms to make these ambitions a reality. Our own integrated ESG solution, for example, is designed to help organizations plan, manage, govern, and report on their ESG programs and initiatives.
Aligning people and processes around customer value streams
Digitization has fundamentally changed people’s relationships with brands. Traditional mass-market interactions are being replaced by more personal interactions. To this end, we’re seeing more and more organizations orienting themselves around the customer experience.
In practice, this means aligning people around core customer journeys and making sure all processes are focused on delivering great customer experiences. It sounds obvious, but if your business relies too heavily on isolated silos, it can be harder to align your business with the customer.
To achieve this, we expect businesses to look towards enterprise workflow technology to help them holistically manage their apps, solutions, and services throughout their entire lifecycle. The goal of this technology is to unify workspaces and processes to create a single source of the truth. The value of personalized interactions is immense, so getting ahead when it comes to embracing technology that helps them better align their processes and purpose with the customer will only help you.
Looking towards the future
As the pace of change increases, coming years will no doubt be full of further uncertainty and disruption, making continuous transformation not only key to business growth, but survival. For this reason, the organizations that prioritize agility and use technology to build a resilient operating model will be perfectly positioned to tackle these challenges head-on.