External disruptors and start-ups are constantly shaking up the business world, pushing technological boundaries and reimagining the future.
According to Leona Mentz, regional operations manager: Asia, Middle East and Africa at BT, it has become crucial to not only identify the most relevant digital trends that will redefine the world in the new normal, but to find ways to best harness their potential.
By more rapidly embracing digital change and the associated innovation this entails, businesses can make themselves more resilient against future events. We have found, for example, that businesses further along the digital journey are weathering the impacts of the pandemic and resulting lockdown measures with far more flexibility and resilience.
There are five innovation priorities business leaders must be mindful of if they intend to ensure they are built for resilience. These are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML); big data and analytics; 5G; the Internet of Things (IoT); and security.
AI and ML have already become an everyday part of our lives. And Gartner predicts that by 2024, 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting AI to operationalising it1. Already, companies are developing AI that draws on the large, open, and free data repositories which the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple are creating. These pools of data can be used for new types of modelling to help communities plan and manage resources better.
Incorporating AI and ML into the business isn’t a question of simply flipping a switch and powering ahead. Getting it right takes a radical rethink of how data is managed throughout the business to make sure it’s accurate.
Secondly, big data and analytics are transforming the customer experience. For businesses, these components are used to gain a comprehensive view of the customer and facilitating the development of products and services that best meet their needs. Along the way, this helps the business grow loyalty and reduce churn which are vital in a challenging economic environment.
But big data nowadays goes beyond just that. It also means businesses can make better decisions, faster and more cost-effectively. From matching resources to where they’re needed, to preventing events rather than just predicting them, big data, together with AI and machine learning, are automating complex processes that would otherwise be too expensive to contemplate. This frees people from tedious and time-consuming tasks to do something more productive.
The third priority, 5G, is enabling more sophisticated and flexible services that have ultra-low latency. Think things like network splicing and edge computing, automating production lines, and proactively identifying faults.
And, as industries search for ways to operate safely and effectively throughout the pandemic, 5G is emerging as the smart choice in many scenarios, such as where businesses need new ways to collaborate remotely. It has become the linchpin of an ecosystem that has data at its heart. This technology will help any business get the most from other emerging technologies that are maturing now.
With reliable, high-speed connectivity in place, IoT becomes a given. Thanks to affordable chips and sensors, as well as widespread wireless networks, it is now possible to connect anything to the Internet. Machine-to-machine network connections are expected to grow globally from just under 1-billion in 2017 to 3,9-billion in 2022.
For example, smart cities are increasingly managing their own infrastructure to improve life for residents, influencing everything from parking to crime detection. The pandemic has also accelerated IoT adoption as companies are using the likes of smart wearable devices and workforce tracking systems to keep employees apart.
Finally, security has become a mission-critical aspect of the new operating environment. With an increasingly disparate workforce relying on cloud usage more than ever, businesses have opened themselves up to the potential risks of cybersecurity attacks. Businesses must understand how their risk profiles have changed and what they need to do to remain operational while still safeguarding data and network access.
The urgency to adapt to the ‘new normal’ for sustained business continuity has made businesses more receptive to new possibilities – and businesses should not return to how things were before. Instead, they are presented with an exciting opportunity to transform into completely different organisations – and towards increased resilience.