Key to sustained digital transformation in 2020: People

BrandPost By Jim Malone
Mar 06, 2020
Digital TransformationIT Leadership

Keep an Eye on Emerging Technologies, Smaller Companies.rn

istock 1167056909
Credit: iStock

Predictions about enterprise technology tend to be focused heavily on, well, technology. And why not? Without emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing, genuine digital transformation would remain a pipe dream for most enterprises.

But digital transformation requires more than cutting-edge hardware and software (though it needs plenty of both). As analysts and organizations look forward to 2020 and beyond, the crucial role of people in digital transformation—how they work with technology and with each other – emerges as a key theme.

Starting with system integrator DXC Technology’s “2020 Technology Trends and the Future of Work” report, here’s a scan of the predictions by system integrator DXC and industry analysts IDC and Gartner.

Let’s look at the five main predictions from DXC’s tech forecast for 2020 and beyond:

  • AI redefines professional services
  • Design thinking shifts from IT services for people to IT services for machines
  • The value of data increases in ecosystems
  • Teams, not superstars, are the high performers
  • A new wave of business leaders accelerates business transformation

Compare that list to the tech-heavy “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2020 Predictions,” which forecasts more connected clouds, an edge build-out, an explosion of industry-specific apps, an increase in in-house software development, and greater penetration of AI in the enterprise. The only people-related prediction is relatively narrow in scope: By 2023, half of the largest enterprises in the world (Global 2000) will have “chief trust officers.”

Similarly, Gartner’s “Top Strategic Predictions for 2020 and Beyond” touches on BYOD, AI, cryptocurrency, blockchain, orchestration of business applications, and digital innovation timelines. All critical technologies, and their inclusion on any list of predictions makes perfect sense.

Tackling  Transformation

Digital Transformation will continue to gain momentum, with some wrinkles predicted. IDC predicts that by 2024, “over 50% of all IT spending will be directly for digital transformation and innovation (up from 31% in 2018).”

Gartner cautions that large enterprises could face some headwinds. “Through 2021, digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises, on average, twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated.” This calls for leadership, according to DXC.

“A change in business leadership will gain momentum in 2020 as technology-driven marketplaces proliferate. New leaders will advocate for technologies that can improve the enterprise’s speed, agility, productivity and innovative advantage,” DXC’s 2020 Tech Trends report states.

Could this open a lane for smaller companies? Gartner thinks so. “Smaller, more agile organizations, by contrast, will have an opportunity to be first to market as larger organizations exhibit lackluster immediate benefits.”

AI Everywhere?

IDC’s report calls artificial intelligence (AI) “Inescapable — by 2025, at least 90% of new enterprise apps will embed AI,” they predict. “By 2024, over 50% of user interface interactions will use AI-enabled computer vision, speech, natural language processing (NLP), and AR/VR.”

DXC’s report says AI and machine learning, analytics, IoT and other data-driven technologies will lead to technology-enabled change. Look for the biggest impacts in professional services (DXC), advertising (Gartner), and a trio of benefits cited by IDC: Faster time to market; greater product innovation; and improved customer satisfaction. That last item — customer satisfaction — is a key CIO priority, according to IDG’s “State of the CIO 2019” survey.

Conclusion — The People Factor

DXC asserts that successful digital transformation demands not just disruptive technologies, but changes in processes and the ability of organizations to get the most out of employees.

“Getting the people part of the equation right is essential,” DXC says in the introduction to its 2020 trends report. “Employees who feel inspired and collaborate well perform better than the rest.”

An example: Gartner predicts that by 2023, 40% of professional workers will orchestrate their business application experiences and capabilities like they do their music streaming services. Imagine employees that can create individual “playlists” of applications customized to specific employee needs and jobs.  

This democratization of digital technologies will open the opportunity to digitally innovate to many more employees in every organization, says IDC. “Most of them in line-of-business (LOB) roles rather than corporate IT.”

Indeed, as DXC says, inspiration, communication, and collaboration—along with better use of technology and data—can drive innovation and greater levels of productivity.  The report also issues a warning—and some specific advice—to decision-makers.

“As these decision-support systems get more sophisticated, though, professionals may come to rely on them too much, leaving them without the skills to pass on to others in the field,” DXC says. “Businesses should protect against unintended consequences by training people to quickly detect improper bias or unsafe behavior of the AI and respond with corrective action.”

For more information on technology predictions, visit