A technological halo surrounds us. There is not a sector of activity, not a company, not a corporate function, that is not being transformed today by profound technological changes. Whereas these changes used to mainly concern the offer and production system of companies, they now have much wider repercussions, by revolutionising relations with customers or partners, or even the ways in which employees work together. This is what the latest Deloitte study "Tech Trends 2017 - The Kinetic Enterprise" reveals, confirming that in many areas, the technological frontier is constantly being pushed back, no longer feeding IT services but the very heart of all business departments.
ATech Trends 2017" is emblematic of these profound changes in the company: increasing sophistication of analytics and algorithmic processing, refocusing on the user to offer the most fluid and richest possible experience, anticipation of future technological breakthroughs.
"In most companies, technology is seen as a priority and has a high level of management attention. They look at it from three complementary perspectives. First, the strategic angle: which innovations are likely to challenge existing business models? Second, the operational angle: how can they contribute to improving productivity? Finally, and this is quite new, the organisational angle: does the company's human capital, its mode of operation and its culture allow it to take full advantage of emerging technologies? Over the last few years, technology has moved from the periphery to the centre of strategic thinking, and today it feeds all business departments. At the same time, the role of CIOs has increased in importance", sums up Sébastien Ropartz, Partner in charge of Deloitte Digital.
The four major technology trends identified by the Deloitte study
1. Trend #1 - Copying, learning, supporting: the intelligence of machines
In the next two years, more and more companies are expected to combine the collective intelligence of their employees with advanced IT analysis capabilities. To do so, they will be able to draw on the spectacular advances in algorithms, the cloud and Big Data, but also on new modes of cooperation between man and machine.
Artificial intelligence has made considerable advances in a multitude of different directions: automated learning, neural networks, cognitive computing, or even RPA (robotic process automation), which allows the machine to assimilate a repetitive process without the need for programming, but by "observing" a human to carry it out.
In some cases, machine intelligence will enable companies to fully automate repetitive, low value-added processes that previously required human labour.
Most importantly, it will enable them to improve the performance of their employees and the experience of their customers. Employees will have powerful analytics to help them perform their jobs more effectively. Customers will benefit from personalized responses to their requests, instantly, through chatbots.
For most companies, partnerships - whether with university research laboratories, large Internet companies or start-ups - will be the recommended entry point for clearing the way.
Trend 1Q3Q2 - Extension of the analytical field: dark analytics
Although companies are still far from having solved all the issues related to Big Data, they are nevertheless better aware of their latent value and have started to experiment with use cases. In fact, 64 % of CIOs plan to invest in the technical and human capacity to exploit their company's data over the next two years.
But there is still a large amount of data left unused today. This informational "dark matter" is expected to begin unlocking its secrets within the next 18 to 24 months for pioneering companies. The new frontier of Big Data, "dark analytics", covers three types of data that are currently neglected: "dormant" corporate information, unstructured data (e-mails, photos or videos) and the invisible web ("deep web") which, although publicly accessible, is not indexed by traditional search engines.
These data provide high value-added indications for the companies that will be able to make them speak. Globally, productivity gains could reach $430 billion by 2020. To give themselves the best chance of success, companies will have to focus on a business perspective, or risk dissipating their efforts, and open up to their environment, which probably holds some of the data they need.
Trend 1Q3Q3 - Fusion of the physical and digital worlds: mixed reality
The presence of technology in companies will tend to fade in favour of more natural interactions with the user. This is the third trend over the next 18 to 24 months: mixed reality, enabled by the convergence of virtual or augmented reality and the Internet of Things.
Mixed reality lets the user evolve in his or her familiar environment, on which a virtual layer of information is superimposed, through an augmented reality headset or projection device. It allows the user to interact with the computer by voice or gestures, picked up by devices worn on or around the user. The main benefit of mixed reality is that the technology is set back in the background: the user has total freedom of action, without being hindered by a keyboard or touch screen. This makes them more engaged and more efficient.
Companies will progressively experiment with mixed reality applications: support for production or maintenance operators, training, communication, marketing and customer service, new shopping experiences, etc. However, this will require them to resolve complex ergonomic, technical and cyber security issues.
Trend 1Q3Q4 - Staying one step ahead: exponential technologies
Digital technologies have demonstrated the extent to which innovation can disrupt established business or organizational models and even endanger insufficiently vigilant companies. As a result, managers - especially CIOs - will be careful to keep an eye on today's highly fertile technological fields where, even if the implementation horizon seems more distant, of the order of 3 to 5 years, disruptive innovations could have profound repercussions on their business.
These "exponential" technologies include nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum computing and energy storage.
"The importance of technology watch and the "technology culture" of leaders has never been greater. Winning organizations will be those that are able to anticipate not just incremental innovation, which marginally improves their productivity or the functionality of their products and services, but radical innovation - one that enables them to redefine their business or reinvent their business model, concludes François-Xavier Leroux, Director Deloitte Digital.
The kinetic company adopts permanent motion. It develops the dexterity to overcome operational inertia and thrive in ever-changing business environments. In this media noise fed by Cassandras and false prophets, listening to weak signals is a challenge. Making choices in this environment is not easy: only a portion of technological advances are value-creating and only their intimate knowledge can discriminate them.
Remaining a spectator is therefore no longer an option: mentalities have to change to accept changes of course, which are much harder to make when stopped. Setting oneself in motion allows one to capture the energy needed to master one's destiny: experimenting with excursions outside one's comfort zone, training employees to train themselves and each other, forging partnerships to extend the company's capabilities beyond its borders, claiming rights to new data sources, inventing collaboration with machines.
Gaining speed to gain height. The kinetic company must be able to feed off this movement that surrounds and drives it, this evolution of technologies, organizations, services and uses that today constitutes a formidable force for traction and transformation.
Find all the trends in the Tech Trends 2017 study and in particular: IT without borders, the generalisation of a flexible, "everything-as-a-service" IS architecture and the blockchain or trust economy.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Tech Trends study is based on a specific methodology designed to identify the investment and technological innovation trends of companies. Deloitte France adapts the Tech Trends study published in the United States to take into account the specific context of French companies. Trends are selected on the basis of client feedback on current and future priorities; views from leading industry and academic players; research from technology analysts and think tanks; investment roadmaps and priorities from start-ups, venture capitalists, and leading technology vendors; as well as insights from collaborative working groups and examples gathered from Deloitte's network of more than 200,000 professionals worldwide.