Looking back at 2016, we saw the widespread adoption of a new mindset by many corporates: an acceptance of the inevitability of digital transformation and the significant impact it is set to have in all industries. As this transformation continues, the adoption of new, more interactive technologies is set to reshape the way organisations interact with their employees and consumers.
This year, the following trends will revolutionise consumer and employee engagement, change human experience with technology, and elevate consideration around the use of big data:
1. Beyond Pokémon Go: Augmented reality will be the new enterprise reality
Organisations should experiment widely with augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies in order to be prepared for the future workforce.
Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are rapidly moving from the gaming and consumer domain to the enterprise, as leading companies embrace these technologies as a means of improving collaboration, enabling employees, and better engaging with their customers. For example, AR allows an employee repairing or installing a new device or piece of equipment to receive visual step-by-step guidance virtually to complete the task, maximising productivity and limiting risks.
The AR experience made famous by Pokémon GO is now also poised to transform the way companies engage with customers. Gartner predicts that by 2020, nearly 100 million customers will shop in an AR setting and 71% of shoppers expect to view in-store inventory online. This is why, in 2017, enterprises in Australia should start experimenting with AR, VR, and MR technologies to understand how best to apply them within their organisation.
2. Design Thinking: The future of innovation is technology that augments the human experience
As customers and employees become increasingly digitally savvy, design thinking will become essential for organisations to maintain a competitive advantage. Rather than starting with technology, a design thinking approach visualises the end experience first and then synthesises people, processes, and technologies together to achieve that vision.
This year, organisations will leverage digital to drive fundamental shifts in user experiences. Typing and tapping will no longer be the de facto interactions. Instead, digital will enable more immersive experiences, covering gestures, haptics, voice, gaze and so on – seamless engagements between users and machines.
As organisations embrace design thinking, the role of the digital humanist will gain prominence. Demonstrating empathy, creativity, collaboration and an agile approach, the digital humanist will advocate for ethical customer and employee expectations in digital innovation projects. This advocacy will span user experience and design, but also the ethics of new technology innovations.
Companies must re-learn their approach to innovation and embrace human-centered design principles – or risk losing their employees and customers to more relevant competitors.
3. Digital Ethics: Just because you can do something with data, doesn’t mean you should
Over the course of 2017, organisations will pivot from a focus on data acquisition to data intelligence.
Applied artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning rank #1 on Gartner’s list of Top 10 strategic predictions for 2017.
At Avanade, clients are increasingly adopting an automation-first approach. However, an augmented workforce comprising humans, intelligent systems, and devices presents new ethical complexities for companies. A recent Avanade survey found that a majority of C-level executives are grappling with ethical issues stemming from the use of smart technologies in the workplace. Companies face the same digital ethics dilemma with customer data. For example, insurers are now using telematics devices to track consumer driving habits. While this might be a good idea for rewarding safe drivers with a premium discount, are the consumers aware who owns the data being produced by the car? And how comfortable would consumers be having the insurers use the telematics device as a trigger to automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident?
In 2017, organisations will need to educate employees about the ethical implications of digital technologies. Organisations should mandate that ethics be part of a design thinking approach, and implement a framework to ensure that intelligent systems continue to augment and improve human actions and decisions – without risking the trust and expectations of customer and employees.
About the author
Sarah Adam-Gedge is the Managing Director of Avanade Australia, a business technology solutions and managed services provider.