This week, I’m continuing the series looking at digital transformation trends in different industries like healthcare, retail, finance, and media and entertainment. But today, I’m focusing on the high-tech companies leading the charge—companies like Google and Amazon, which continue to seek new and exciting ways to innovate for their customers when many businesses are just catching on.
Although the concept of “digital transformation trends in high-tech” may sound like a redundancy, it’s far from it. Despite the millions of apps, service models, and artificial intelligence (AI) being developed around the world, there are only a handful of major companies that are currently using them—or attempting to develop them—to their fullest advantage. The following are my top picks for high-tech trends making a mark in the digital landscape.
Artificial intelligence means lots of different things to different people. For some, it means the potential for personal assistants. For others, it means potential job loss or killer robots. For me, the top trend in AI is neither of those: it’s in machine learning and analytics. The top business value in AI today comes in the form of the data-backed insights today’s companies can use to better serve their customers and their own business goals. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have massively capitalized on the strength of AI to personalize their communications and marketing promotions for customers. Based on customers’ past buying patterns, Amazon can recommend products—or even regular automated delivery—of products customers frequently purchase. Based on viewer preferences, Netflix recommends shows its customers might never have heard of—serving as a personal curator of TV and movie viewing. The power of personalization is priceless in digital transformation, and will likely be one of the major powers separating industry winners and losers in the years ahead.
Of course, new trends in AI, such as Amazon’s drone technology and Uber’s self-driving cars, are also exciting. But for me, they’re not yet far enough along, to be considered business trends.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Lots of companies are jumping into the world of VR and AR, but it takes an intense focus on customer experience (CX) to find true business value in these quickly evolving technologies. Some of the biggest players in VR and AR might be surprising. For instance, Facebook leads in corporate acquisitions with 11 purchases via one of its subsidiaries. Its goal: to incorporate VR into social media. One of the coolest and most addictive new technologies combined with one of the most addictive social media sites—seems like a match made in business heaven. I can only imagine the potential for ad revenue when AR and VR are possible on the site.
The value in cloud computing is not just in the technology itself—it’s in the promise it brings for increased mobility and, as such, agility and scalability—both of which are necessary to succeed in the digital marketplace. Mobility allows teams to work from anywhere at any time, increasing efficiency while reducing overhead. Companies like Dell are working hard to create Cloud as-a-Service solutions to make it even easier for any kind of business to jump into the cloud game. There are now solutions for public, private, hybrid, and heterogenous cloud structures—eliminating almost any argument a company could make against cloud deployment.
Internet of Things
I hesitate to add the Internet of Things (IoT) to this list, if only because it’s still in its early stages. But the fact remains that the increasingly connected “digital mesh” of smart devices we’re creating holds tremendous potential in every industry—and in every person’s daily life. Companies like Amazon and Google—which are already reaching into customers’ homes through personal assistants, map functions, buying analysis, and “home” controls are absolutely ahead of the pack in terms of taking advantage of the immense amount of data the IoT provides. They also have the power to analyze and use—or sell—those insights for even greater market power.
At the end of the day, the most important part of all these digital trends is not the tech itself, or even the companies developing it—it’s the way the tech is changing our world and how we relate to it. Customer experience is—and will continue to be—the driving force behind high-tech developments. My hope is that as the technology continues to develop, we’ll see even greater movement toward life-saving and tech-equalizing technologies, such as Facebook’s Wifi drone project, which seeks to bring connectively to even the most remote areas of our world. For me, those are the tech advancements that hold the most potential to change the world.
Additional Resources on This Topic:
Companies Killing It in the Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation and the Everyday Employee Experience
Communication Changes in the Digital Transformation
Agility is Key for Moving Through the Digital Transformation
This article was first published on Forbes.