Six Ways Digital Transformations Will Change in 2019

It exploded onto the scene, turned the status quo upside down and left behind the seeds from which a new future could blossom. Yes, we’re talking about The Big Bang…the IT version, that is.

With 2019 just around the corner, experts predict “big bang” approaches to digital transformation—mountain-moving investments into IT—to die off, giving way to what Forrester Research analyst Allen Bonde describes as more practical, short-term initiatives:

“There is some fatigue around big brush digital transformation and there is a need for tech leaders and e-business leaders to make it smaller,” he says. “Executives are now saying, ‘We get it—we’re going to be disrupted, but what can we get done quickly or more practically?’”

1. Digital Projects Turn into Sprints, Not Marathons

CIO.com’s Clint Boulton suggests that digital transformations will take the form of iterative, 18- to 24-month sprints rather than multi-year marathons. Leaders will look at ROI with a fresh perspective, too, as organizations start prioritizing digital KPIs—highly specific metrics tracking the progress of a digital investment, not its profit.

Smaller-scale digital investments aren’t all that’s on the horizon for 2019. Experts forecast a flurry of other activity that will surely impact the way organizations spend their digital dollars.

2. Artificial Intelligence Becomes a Must-Have

As widespread as it is, AI is still a relatively taboo concept for many decision makers. Next year, it won’t be. Bonde cites mainstream products like Adobe’s Sensei and IBM’s Watson as examples of how AI technology will become staples of companies’ tech stacks.

3. The 5G Wait is Over

Much has been written about the race to 5G technology: Are we ready? Do we have enough spectrum? How should it be regulated? How long before we realize its full potential? 2019 might be the year that we see some of these loose ends get tied up, at least according to Forbes contributor Daniel Newman. Over the coming year, Newman predicts 5G zones to spread everywhere, expansion that will largely be driven by companies like Qualcomm and Intel, with upstarts like Mimosa Networks pushing giants like ATT and Verizon toward innovation and acceleration.

4. A Plug-and-Play Blockchain Model Goes in Motion

Despite being one of the biggest buzz trends of 2018, blockchain is still a few years removed from hitting the mainstream. In his Forbes article, Newman suggests that the only way for users to realize the full potential of blockchain is by having access to a commodity version that is both easy to understand and easy to use.

5. Consumption-Based IT Continues to Rule

The quest for greater efficiency, flexibility and scalability is driving most IT spending right now, and this isn’t expected to change in 2019. For this reason, Newman forecasts that investments in “as-a-Service” solutions, which allow organizations to reap the benefits of cutting-edge technologies without incurring fixed overhead costs, will continue to be a hot budget item for organizations this coming year.

6. CEOs Call the Technology Shots

Shockingly, digital transformation efforts have largely been quarantined to specific departments, where IT, marketing or HR teams are forced to drive initiatives that require a lot of time, money and expertise. Naturally, this is what leads big bang digital transformations to take so long to come to fruition (if they do at all).

Newman implores the C-suite (particularly CEOs) to take back control of the digital transformation, investing more in hiring specialists to support digital initiatives, leveraging data like never before and building workplace cultures that embrace agility and change.

What Are Your Digital Priorities for 2019?

There’s no telling how (if at all) these projected changes will impact digital spending in the future, but they provide a great conversation starter for decision makers who are finalizing their 2019 technology budgets.

To compare, check out a similar we posted this time last year: Collaboration Technology Trends to Watch in 2018.