Digital transformation : what to expect in 2016 ?

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It’s the end of the year and the time for predictions for those who’d like to believe in. More seriously, seen from my small window, here are some trends I’ve identified for 2016

1°) A relative slow down of digital transformation initiatives

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the matter will become less important, it’s even the opposite. Nor that businesses will spend less energy either. What I predict is that after having tried things in every direction in an experimental fashion, businesses will come back to the basics based on what they learned. A more structuring approach. What’s the main line ? What’s hype and what’s important ? What prerequisites did we overlook ? No more flight forward, it’s the beginning of a more reasoned, scalable and industrialized era.

In short more time taken to learn from the past before going further.

 

2°) Those who did not care about employees will start to suffer

If nearly everybody started with the visible side and customer orientation, too many overlooked the internal side and employees. In some case they were just not in the scope, in some others they were told what the future was going to be, what technologies they’ll use to serve the customer but there’s still a big gap to bridge.

As a matter of fact if employees were told what they’ll have to so for the customer and for the company (and how), they were not told what the company was going to do for them instead of providing new technologies to operate in a context they still don’t get and adopt postures they were not trained for.

Saying that digital is about behaviors first is nice but businesses must draw all the consequences and go through with it. Too many employees are being told that their work was changing without being helped to master this roles, only the technology used in these roles. It’s time to go beyond technology and mantras and care about behaviors.

There’s also employees who start to realize that, in their company, digital is going to be about the customer, all about the customer, only about the customer. These ones are starting to disengage, as people left behind always do.

Between those who forgot that the promise made to the customer is delivered by employees and those who did not care about the value proposition and the meaning for employees, many transformations programs will start to struggle.

In 2016, window dressing stands about the attention paid to employees will crumble.

3°) HR strikes back (the endless comeback)

Since this matter has been in any prediction for years, it’s high time for it to happen. The more people realize that there’s a huge cultural and behavioral side in digital transformation and that learning is key, the more HR can jump in the in train. This trend started in 2015 and will become stronger in 2016. But it’s not going to happen evenly : this is the field where gaps will be the biggest between leaders and others. There will be leaders and laggards, very few between.

4°) “Experience company” as the barometer of digital transformation

Experience is the holy grail of digital transformation. In 2016 we’ll see the gap widening between those who use the term for window dressing and those who’ll make the most of it. For the first it’s going to be about delivering a “Wow effect” on a screen, for others a new value creation model with deep online and offline consequences on operations.

The second will even hire Chief Experience officers and/or journey managers that will be much more useful than chief digital officers because they will work on real business, operations and customers, not technology. Between experience companies and the Wow effect addicts, transformers and window-dressing lovers, the gap will grow.

5°) The decline of the chief digital officer

Some will achieve their goal and move  to something else. Some will be tired of being the fig-leaf of lost-in-digital CEOs will leave when their ability to set things in motion won’t be enough to fight the inertia of the C-Suite. Last, there will be those who will realize they were the tree that hide the forest in a company that did not really want to change.

So this job will become less and less trendy as people realize that digital is a shared responsibility and must be driven collectively..

6°) Web is not the point anymore. Neither is communication

When one says “digital”, too many people still think about web and communication technologies. We’re well past that point. Biotech, nano tech, future of business models, industry 4.0… that’s what’s hot.

7°) The return of practitioners

With the CDO declining and the web not being the point anymore, it’s the come back of practitioners. HR, communication, supply chain…the list is endless. They are the ones who will reinvent their job and because no one else can do that for them.

9°) Focus on principles and behaviors

Digital is a way to see, think and act. In 2016 we’ll see very concrete and operational approaches to the digital paradigm. Applying a digital approach to a business is to do such and such thing, in such and such way.

We’ve enough hindsight to factorize digital into a list of principes to apply that could be used by anyone. More, it will help to demystify the matter.

10 °) The cognitive revolution

This one has already started but the general public does not care that much because it’s still technological even if the concrete impact can already be felt…and the worries that come with too. And that’s only the beginning. Digital will help to build foundations but the reals storm is about cognitive computing (and so of the cognitive economy that comes with). This topic will become mainstream over month to replace digital transformation in 2017 and 2018. Being “Watsoned” will be the new being “Ubered”.

Photo Credit : Predictions par Photographee.eu via Shutterstock