The novel coronavirus has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation over the past year. As organisations struggle to produce at minimum a consistent ROI during these unprecedented times, the main focus has been on building a better overall digital presence to help them remain significant and visible amongst the competition.
Many organisations have already begun implementing specific digital transformations leveraging technologies like the cloud, big data and automation, while others are still in the planning stage. Regardless, we’ve been catapulted into a new wave of technological and business patterns providing for a “new normal” in how we handle business data and more.
Here’s what the new normal looks like in terms of digital transformation trends for 2021:
Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure
Businesses have been migrating toward a hybrid cloud infrastructure for a while now. Hybrid cloud strategies allow for a better balance between each organization’s mixed cloud infrastructure needs since they combine both private and public strategies.
This is largely due to meeting the needs of a larger customer base and to meet the challenges of exponential data growth and maintaining privacy. This migration is something that requires a move from a traditional IT support infrastructure to a more open-source platform that allows for integrations with traditional cloud data centers, applications, and workloads.
Of course, one of the greatest challenges of a hybrid strategy involves the overall investment to implement compliance, security, data and infrastructure compatibility, automation, container management, the various cloud technologies, and so on. Migrating to a hybrid infrastructure requires in-depth planning and adequate capital. However, the greatest benefits organizations will gain include agility and adaptability during times of disruption.
Cybersecurity is also making a comeback as more cyber hackers emerged to exploit businesses and consumers during the global pandemic shut-down. 2020 saw a 238% increase in attacks on banks and a 600% increase in attacks on cloud servers. Digital cybersecurity is especially critical to protect remote collaboration, customer data, and other sensitive information being shared among business platforms.
A critical component in upping the cybersecurity game for 2021 will be confidential computing. The idea is to implement encryption throughout the entire computing process, adding additional levels of cybersecurity around sensitive information beyond data. Companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others are currently developing new protocols for confidential computing. While these new protocols are still in the early stages of development, we will be witnessing confidential computing becoming mainstream this year.
Automation has been climbing up the ranks for some time as it drives operational efficiency, thereby improving business processes, leading to an overall improvement in productivity. It’s also becoming a part of every aspect of business processes, from finances to cybersecurity.
Automation is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several related trends within the category. The latest automation trend that we’re seeing increasingly being adopted by business across sectors, revolves primarily around contactless and touch-less mechanisms. As we entered into the pandemic, contactless support mechanisms became a top safety and efficiency priority and will remain as such as we enter the post-COVID world.
Arguably the biggest concern with contactless/touch-less solutions is the security behind the technology to provide such a solution. Additionally, technological malfunctions with contactless solutions can lead to user frustration, which is why a secondary automation trend has emerged around the push to reduce complexity on a fundamental level.
Microservices allow for independent deployment which increases production and the overall customer experience. Businesses are increasingly employing microservices in their production to enable scalability and flexibility to their workflows.
This loosely-coupled architectural style aims to make service-to-service communication more reliable, secure, and fast. While most mid to enterprise-level organizations are rolling out microservices to gain a competitive edge, they come with a number of challenges including management, monitoring, and interservice communications.
Collecting and curating accurate data gives businesses insight into the buyer’s journey and more. Organizations of all levels are increasingly investing in data analytics software to transform the customer experience which increases their bottom line.
The greatest challenges with data analytics are universal access among teams and implementing a sufficient system to handle big data through one single platform; hence the need for hybrid cloud infrastructure and microservices. Of course, to make the best use of data analytics, the proper training and technology to sift through the information are also critical.
Remote work has been on the rise since before the pandemic and it has now become a mainstay as it allows for a safer and more flexible option to keep businesses running as we enter 2021.
Flexibility is the operative term as we move forward this year, but it also means keeping the “digital office” secure and implementing connected solutions that serve for the best possible team collaborations among multiple time zones.
Having said that, you can’t have this flexibility without mobility. In other words, modern communication—whether it be at home or in an office—revolves around fast communication and collaboration via multi-device technology and open platforms that support a more productive workflow.
Digital Customer Experiences
The customer experience has always been at the epicenter of every organization’s success. As far as digital transformation trends go, customers’ needs are geared more towards convenience and comfort, rather than strict loyalty. That’s why a major trend we’re seeing is improving the overall digital experience.
As we become more dependent on digital processes in business and in life, there’s less of a need for face-to-face contact and more of a need for faster, intuitive, self-serving solutions. With data driving every aspect of the digital footprint of customer engagements, business are looking to create connected ecosystems using multiple platforms to create more visibility and a unified and immersive experience for the customer.
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