The major technologies driving the disruption of business in 2017

Major technologies driving the disruption of business

This was first published on CIO Asia.


The major technologies driving the disruption of business in 2017

The world will likely let out a collective sigh of relief when 2016 is finally over. It has been a year that was at various times sad, and other times uncertain. Can 2017 be better? One thing that will not change, and is only likely to accelerate in the next 12 months, is the massive amount of disruption taking place across businesses everywhere as a result of technological innovations.

The forces driving digital transformation

Over the past few years, a unique combination of events, trends and forces have led to a tipping point of digital transformation – no enterprise in any sector in any part of the world is immune to the sweeping changes taking place.

Now seems as good a time as any to take stock and understand what those forces are:

  • The falling costs of technology. What might have taken $5m to do in 1996, and $50k in 2006, might now cost $5k or less.
  • There has never been so many smart people across the planet innovating through technology in cumulative human history. Their efforts are now also more open, collaborative and shared to achieve maximum impact.
  • The real cause of the dot-bomb lack of confidence in 2000 was no shortage of great ideas but not enough potential users – the networks were just not ready. Today, we have come to expect access to high-bandwidth networks in almost any location at a relatively low cost (or even free).
  • The announcement in 2007 of the first iPhone set in motion something special. Now, anyone armed with a smartphone has 24/7 access to seemingly limitless amounts of computing power, information and useful applications.
  • The low barriers to entry and easy availability of funding for new disruptive ventures. Right now anyone can be sitting in their house anywhere in the world inventing the next world-changing business model. And the money they need to see their dream realised will come from the ‘fastest fingers first’ on crowdfunding sites.
  • Most technology-driven ventures have rapidly established themselves across the globe, showing scant regard for borders and often trampling over local regulations, culture and ways of doing business – very few parts of the world can afford to be complacent.
  • Consumers have shown a low respect for company loyalty, have raised expectations around digital experiences and are seeking trust and authenticity in the firms they choose to do business with.

All of these trends are resulting in an explosion of innovation that takes advantage of technologies that have now reached an acceptable level of maturity, cost and accessibility.

Technologies to keep an eye on in 2017

These technologies are now primed to be the engines of even more digital disruption come 2017.

1. Digital Experience technologies:

  • Mobile Connectivity and Devices

Internet connected mobile devices, smartphones, wearables, and drones that are rapidly supplanting all previous forms of interaction. For customer adoption to take off, it requires in-context, relevant, personalised, intuitive, and engaging interfaces at the point where the experience of the customer is most acute today.

  • Social Media and Collaborative technologies

A range of often complementary innovations that include crowdsourcing business models (including the high growth Open Source software movement), Peer-to-Peer (P2P) platforms, enterprise collaboration technologies, gamification design techniques and the power of social media platforms for marketing, sales and customer service.

  • Virtual and Augmented Reality

Poised for take-off in 2017, with real-life simulations, immersive experiences and the ability to enrich an existing real-life setting through the overlay of digital experiences that deliver value, entertainment and important information.

2. Digital Labour (Intelligent Automation) technologies:

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Replacing manually intensive tasks with machine-based execution without the need to re-engineer processes or tinker with the underlying technology stack. A minimally invasive form of intelligent automation that usually offers rapid benefit.

  • Cognitive Computing and Machine Intelligence

A higher level of automation using sophisticated, emerging computational techniques that deliver perception, reasoning, decision-making capabilities, natural language processing, pattern recognition, self-learning and hypothesis generation. The long term promise of artificial intelligence and smart machines has now reached the point of rapid adoption.

3. Digital Information technologies:

  • Data and Analytics

Data warehouse and business intelligence now being augmented with predictive modelling, prescriptive technologies and smart algorithms. All part of a gradual business move to deliver more value from data by using information in hindsight, to gaining insight, and then on to having foresight.

  • Internet of Things (IoT)

The fast-moving world of embedded sensors, actuators and intelligence in machines, and other physical objects. These new levels of instrumentation are now supporting new business models such as servitisation and connected insurance.

4. Digital Ledger (Blockchain and Distributed Ledger) technologies:

A shared, immutable, transparent, secure and programmable (smart contracts) shared record of information that can replace business intermediaries.

5. Digital Infrastructure (Cloud Services) technologies:

Computing resources, applications, development environments and entire business processes dynamically provisioned and delivered over a network “as a service”. Cloud is also emerging as the platform technology of choice to underpin emerging ecosystem business strategies.

This list is by no means exhaustive; we will surely witness MANY other technologies delivering exciting progress in the coming year. Neither is the list prescriptive; few organisations should or could undertake digital transformation through all of these technologies at the same time. But it is a list that will resonate with leadership teams tasked with directing the Digital Strategy of the firm in the near term horizon.

These technologies may have initially found traction in one isolated industry sector or use-case, but are now rapidly spreading into adjacent areas. The most disruptive impacts occur where multiple technologies are combined and converged and their individual power to disrupt is magnified. New types of industry platforms or ecosystems of related technologies are now forming where complex networks of things, clouds, applications and people are dramatically changing the way businesses operate and deliver value.

Let us hope 2017 will be an improvement over 2016, and that we all manage to emerge stronger, wiser and satisfied that we have done everything in our power to ensure the disruptive period of time we are living through leads to a better world.

Contributed by: Bob Hayward, Principal, Management Consulting, KPMG in Singapore

The views and opinions are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of KPMG in Singapore.


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