Digitization will be over in 2020. But no — that does not mean the digital transformation is complete from a technological and process point of view. The term just has slowly worn out — digitization has become a self-evident matter. Nevertheless, there are still many starting points for companies where investments are worthwhile. In this article, we want to shed light on the technological side. So, here are five tech trends of 2020 that you should focus on.
1) Automation through Artificial Intelligence
Until now, AI solutions have primarily been used to address customers. Personalization is probably the strongest keyword here. In addition to personal contact, thanks to AI, the content can also be adapted to the respective needs and preferences of users.
But the future of AI lies not only in the interface focused on the customer. An important thing here is the optimization of internal company processes. For example, some areas benefit from the extensive automation options that can be opened up thanks to artificial intelligence: sales support, analytics, quality assurance, etc. AI-based automation — at least as a quick 80% solution — has already become the expected standard for such things as image recognition or translation.
2) Cloud, Cloud, and Cloud
The backlog of innovations and the market pressure towards digitization are high, and the company's own development capacities are often limited. That is why cloud solutions are frequently not a question of cost efficiency, but a sheer necessity for a reasonable time-to-market in the first place. Here, we differentiate between different ways of using the cloud.
Cloud Level 1: The public cloud (especially Amazon AWS or MS Azure) now is also used in more conservative large companies that would not have thought of it until a few years ago. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) here is an alternative and a complement to the self-managed data center.
Cloud Level 2: Public clouds are often used partially. In other words, the customer does not just explicitly book virtualized hardware himself but uses the platform of a software provider, which in turn runs on one of the large public clouds.
Cloud Level 3: No individual instance of a customized software package is booked at all. Still, a SaaS solution (Software as a Service) is used.
In general, it can be said that the focus shifts away from hardware and bits towards the quickly available utility value. It means cloud solutions will also become even more attractive to companies in 2020.
3) Customer Experience: Individual and Consistent
An individual yet standard customer experience (CX)? What sounds like a contradiction becomes logical when you take a closer look. In more and more industries, customers expect tailored, individualized offers based on, for example, AI solutions. It is a tightrope walk — on the one hand, the customer wants you to know them and adjust your goods/services to them, for which the use of personal data serves as the basis. On the other hand, the customer doesn't want to be spied on. Clients need a feeling of transparency and understanding of how their data is used. They should trust security — so much for the customization. But how does this match the standards of CX?
An increasing number of devices are being used individually and in combination: from simple laptops and smartphones to smartwatches, smart speakers, and other kinds of technology wizardry integrated into conventional electronics, from TVs to bedside lamps. And, depending on the device and circumstances, different interaction options are available: from the conventional app to voice assistants and augmented reality applications. Regardless of the channel, the customer expects a uniform and relevant approach.
4) X as a Service
Software as a Service has shown the way. Instead of buying, installing, and operating program packages, they are rented. The business model prevails — if you don't offer services instead of products, you lose touch. The trend is clearly toward quick availability, a high degree of flexibility, or, in business terms, OpEX instead of CapEX. But there are also advantages for service providers. Not only can sales be calculated in the long term, but the customer relationship can also be developed effectively — as if you were climbing the success hill with the best electric bikes under 1000$. With that approach, it is possible to achieve a completely different level of work and cooperation with clients.
Also, there is an analogy to e-commerce. Products that were considered impossible to sell without personal advice in a retail store, from cars to fitted kitchens, have long been sold online. The same applies to services. Solutions that seem very analog will be increasingly offered as a rentable service — from home furnishings to construction machines.
5) “Low Code” Environments
System landscapes are becoming increasingly complex due to the increasing requirements. It takes more data analysis, more integrations, and companies have to ask themselves how they can keep this complexity manageable. Individual software must be maintained and supported, but standard software may not be adapted to all the applications.
The trend is moving away from software towards so-called “low code” environments. Those are technologies that enable logics and integrations without programming and thus enable technology-savvy business users to create efficient solutions without having to involve an IT sector. A typical example is the integration of data across systems. Be it in the IoT area with IFTT (“If this then that” logic) or in the enterprise software, iFlows (prepared using SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI)) uses and models it graphically.
Another typical application for “low code” environments is classic administration interfaces. There are solutions such as Airtable or Retool for data analysis, business applications on the Salesforce platform, or the back-office of the SAP Commerce Cloud.
And, in contrast to previous “completely without programming” promises, not only can fast prototypes be implemented, but also supplemented by programmatic extensions if required.