When we introduced the 2020 edition of our yearly TechnoVision trends analysis early January, we did as we always do: select a key story – a leitmotiv – to weave together different technology components and dedicate a separate editorial to it. This is meant as a practical illustration of how to create digital storylines (the very essence of TechnoVision), as much as it highlights a striking technology business challenge that we anticipate for the year ahead.
For 2020, we even selected two: next to a plea for simplification (both in considering, selecting and applying technology solutions as in the overall transformation mindset), Being Architects of Positive Futures featured as a call to action to thrive on technology to battle climate change, to improve digital inclusion and diversity, to create more, positive societal impact. All in all, this made for a rich, relevant funnel of business technology initiatives that would keep the digital world busy and engaged throughout 2020 and beyond.
Well, so we thought.
Then came the pandemic crisis. Out of the blue. Like a true, undeniable Black Swan. And away goes funnel down the drain. In its place comes a shortlist of business priorities that range from plain survival and radical cost-cutting via alternative (often digital) ways of selling and delivering services and products, all the way up to planning for renewed growth after the crisis and even rising to the occasion: envisioning innovative business models that still seemed far-fetched and risky back in the good old days – you know, only a few weeks ago.
Whatever priority, it requires a lot of brainpower and creativity to understand and select the technologies that can drive the efforts. TechnoVision will help, as it is a framework that can underpin any digital story, even the very unexpected ones.
Over the course of time, technology has been used a lot to improve cost-effectiveness (as a matter of fact, the leitmotiv of TechnoVision’s 2009 edition was – for obvious reasons – exactly that). And there are many opportunities in the current digital landscape as well. Clearly, making even more, real-time data available to the organization will be key to making informed, fact-driven decisions in terms of where and how to increase effectiveness. And the closer this data is infused in the actual business, the more power to the people there is, the quicker impact can be achieved. Furthermore, many implementations of more or less intelligent process automation have already proven their business case in the past few years – and there’s definitely much more out there.
Of course, the IT department should apply these technology drivers to improve its own cost-effectiveness as well (after all: nothing sells better than drinking your own champagne). There is also the move to the cloud and continuous, automated infrastructure delivery that probably could be accelerated, delivering quick benefits. Then, rationalizing the existing applications landscape – getting rid of expensive, redundant, and outdated applications that spark no joy – is an activity that is often long overdue and should now be put front of the line.
The virtual way
Working from home, collaborating and creating online, delivering services and even products through alternative digital channels: we all knew it could be done. But it is obvious that the pandemic crisis is unleashing the full power of it, increasing its intensity day by day. Online delivery of food and goods is surging, and many organizations find themselves in a pressure cooker to deliver much better, more compelling, and effective digital user experiences and the fine-tuned supply chain that is needed to deliver on it. They will definitely need to turn to real-time analysis of social media in order to understand the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior and preferences. They will also need to assess their current supply chain, both to identify risks that might occur from players falling out and opportunities to organize supply flows differently.
Companies rely on the scalability and elasticity of cloud and collaboration technology to enable a fluid, remote workforce. (Anybody mention “Black Swans” there, by the way?) And as many of us (thanks, Suryanshu, for an interesting blog post) rapidly turned to the likes of Slack, Teams, Zoom, Stormz, and Klaxoon to work and co-create together (or have Friday evening drinks, for that matter), we realize indeed that the Team now has become the Canvas.
Preparing for the renaissance
Every crisis has an end, the pandemic will eventually go away. As this swan tends to be quite black, it is impossible to predict what business life will look after it. But that shouldn’t stop us from preparing for it. Organizations may simply look to reinvigorate what they already have been doing, aiming to quickly scale up again, and have their value chains up and running as soon as the opportunity arises. Others may find inspiration in the alternative digital channels and ways of working they have been forced to explore. They will reimagine and envision new, resilient business models – possibly AI-first or even completely hands-free.
Let’s share stories
Dealing with the pandemic is the undisputed digital leitmotiv for quite some time to come – involving highly various scenarios, from plain survival to reinvented business models. TechnoVision is a powerful framework to identify and combine technology drivers for each of these scenarios, weaving together the components of a compelling digital story that can be told, shared, and experienced – not only within the boundaries of your own organization this time, but across businesses, industries, domains, and regions. We are all in this together, after all – and as we will continue to share our stories in the forthcoming days and weeks, we invite you to do so as well.