IDC Social Predictions 2016: Drivers for Change – Part One

These key trends for social technologies were developed by a team of IDC analysts, including me, Vanessa Thompson, Mary Wardley, Jon van Vonno, Lisa Rowan, Christine Dover and Daniel-zoe Jimenez. The post itself is by Vanessa Thompson.  Predictions2016

There are a number of interrelated trends that are interacting and interoperating to underpin the change and disruption that is occurring to alter the way we interact, transact, connect and collaborate. The pressure to deliver differentiation as a means of competitive advantage is a critical driver for the changing nature of experiences across customers, partners, and suppliers. The ability to link customer experience (CX), workforce, commerce, business networks, and innovation together in order to deliver a holistic view of digital and social transformation is at the epicenter of the differentiation. Technology is at the core of the linkages that need to be made, but it is far from simply implementing some new software/hardware, automating processes, and learning a new workflow.

This week we will discuss the main drivers that influence the way we are thinking about future potential touchpoints for customers, employees, partners and suppliers. Next week we will discuss the top 10 predictions that were derived from these drivers.

Perpetually Connected Consumers Require a Heightened Level of Interaction and Have Increasingly Accelerated Response Expectations

Customers no longer “behave.” They have flipped the way they learn about a brand/product and have a limitless set of online resources to empower them and change or magnify their expectations. Social networks, online communities, social media, review sites, forums, and so forth are drivers in this change. The impact is that it is no longer good enough to reply to customers when you find the information they require. In line with this, exceeding their expectations will become increasingly difficult. This means that as those users continue to vote with their customer satisfaction ratings, all organizations need to be thinking about how to minimize response times but also how to create proactive engagement with future potential customers.

The Sense-and-Respond Business Model Leads to a Data-Driven Decision Process, But Data Is only a Part of the Solution

The sense-and-respond business model was coined in the early 1990s by IBM and describes the shift away from make and sell toward a business that responds and adapts to feedback as well as changes in the business environment. With many organizations now being impacted by business model disruption, it will become critical to understand how data from interactions and transactions can help drive the business forward. However, data is only one part of it. Capturing, analyzing, and implementing feedback is critical and will require organizations to think more broadly about how they are listening to all their business constituents.

Information Is a New Currency in This New Age, But “Big” Isn’t the Point

The amount of information being generated by both individual users and organizations will only continue to grow. Understanding how to capture the “right” information at the right time will help organizations execute against basic business metrics. However, not all information is created the same and finding the value is increasingly critical. Organizations no longer need to “own” all the data that users generate, which would be unmanageable, but they do need to understand where interactions of value are being generated. An example is in the sales process, to close a deal a purchase order (PO) needs to be created, but legal and finance may also have to look at that information. That is now a critical document as it has customer information as well as involved interactions from other business units. Other information like personal notes on the client may not need to be owned by the organization.

Every Employee Is now a Connected “Information Worker”

The term information (or knowledge) worker has been around for a long time, but it no longer describes the challenges of a modern worker or how content and technology can touch those users that aren’t considered information workers today. When thinking about the experiences these connected users expect on their mobile device, the functions should be streamlined and more seamless from an application interaction perspective. The mobile experience needs to be simplistic and basic because the tasks we are targeting on the mobile device are responsive type of activities. Data from IDC’s 2015 Workforce Transformation Survey supports this as we looked at different device types and the types of activities users targeted on smartphone, tablet, and desktop or notebook. Simple tasks like checking email/calendar and social network are the main processes on apps. Prevalent activities on the tablet are note taking and participating in communities, which are more interactive activities than those targeted on the smartphone.

Need to Intelligently Connect People and Other Support Technologies Such as Cognitive Systems and AI to Help Make Decisions

Intelligent information filtering and delivering content and data to users in near real time are the building blocks of more streamlined and seamless business processes. In the past 12–18 months, a new class of technologies has emerged to facilitate the discovery, use, and collaboration of information in decision making. These technologies use information retrieval, machine learning, and cognitive systems to help workers answer questions, predict future events, and provide recommendations. These technologies use a wide range of processes such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide expert assistance in the workplace.

Broad “Platform” Changes Are Very Disruptive — There Are Fundamental Changes at Play

A large part of the future of business software is tied up in the new platforms (PaaS) that are forming and evolving today. With the widespread use of services-oriented architecture (SOA), isolated services, and APIs in loosely coupled systems, modern application development has evolved down a path toward a microservices methodology and what is known as reactive systems. As software as a service (SaaS) replaces old monolithic systems, the need for the older application packaging becomes irrelevant. The new reactive systems are a loose coupling of microservices based on a business process not a collection of monolithic application blocks that can be integrated into a “suite.” Modern systems are an assemblage of microservices that execute a business process, which can be continuously integrated and updated much more easily. Reactive systems are more scalable, flexible, fault tolerant, and adaptable. As the microservices get more granular, it becomes easier to assemble them more dynamically using the new platforms/PaaS into best fit processes. Today, these microservices are preconfigured by software companies into processes, but it’s easy to see a future where these services could be custom configured based on each company’s need and offered in marketplaces that would test, certify, and assemble them into reusable modules of services. This modern approach to services and business processes leads to what we have called the post-application era, where the old functional packaging of apps is not necessary or even desired and where eventually the services can be configured into an individualized business process for each company.

Business Model Innovation Is/Can Be More Disruptive than Product/Service Innovation

Business model innovation based on the Internet and the marketplace (or networked, or community … any of these work well) is more disruptive than product innovation in most cases (that’s my plausible out for the few cases that someone will point out to me later … yes, I know that disruptive product innovation is and will always be strategically important). Said differently, your business is at risk more from new models that can appear almost overnight than from new products/services or changes in pricing. Could you (or maybe the question is, would you in time) react to a business disruption in your industry like what taxi cabs are faced with today because of Uber, Lyft, and others?

With many organizations characterized as a post-industrial enterprise, business modernization can provide a stronger way to discuss the ensuing transformation. Technology is at the core of the linkages that need to be made, but it is far from simply implementing some new software/hardware, automating processes, and learning a new workflow. The changes that need to take place to deliver this differentiation are much more fundamental and alter the way work gets done, the type of work that is done, and the way people interact. Understanding the influence and relevance of these trends on your organization will help distil the critical initiatives to be targeted. This is an extremely complex yet essential exercise. These drivers inform the Social predictions so stay tuned for next week’s post.

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