Predictions 2018: Digital Transformation Ready to Hit Its Stride

DT may be a cliche, but there's no getting around the fact that the term is very relevant. Enterprises are indeed rethinking and re-tooling their IT systems, because they have to do so.


It’s so, so true: The term “digital transformation” is way past the buzz phrase stage and is now about to be enshrined in the Marketspeak Cliché Hall of Fame, along with “think outside the box,” “disruptive innovation,” “paradigm shift,” “bring to the table” and dozens of others.

But there's no getting around the fact that the term is very relevant. Enterprises are indeed rethinking and re-tooling their IT systems, because they have to do so. Competition in the market and demand from customers is mandating it, in vertical industries all over the globe.

We at eWEEK just wish someone would come up with a fresher description. How about something simple and to-the-point, like “IT reformation”? If that sounds a little too religious, remember that there are already a lot of “evangelists” and “gurus” in this business, so it might fit well with their messages.

DT is a Humongous Market

Now back to business. Here are some numbers to ponder.

By the end of 2019, digital transformation (DX) spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide, a 42 percent increase from 2017, according to the new IDC Worldwide DX 2018 Predictions report published recently.

While IDC continues to see tremendous momentum and influence of DX on technology spending worldwide, across all geographies and industries, 59 percent of companies remain at either stage two or three of DX maturity, or what IDC calls a "digital impasse."  The new report will help CIOs and IT professionals successfully advance their organization's digital maturity.

IDC also predicts:

  • By 2019, personal digital assistants and bots will execute only 1 percent of transactions, but they will influence 10 percent of sales, driving growth among the organizations that have mastered utilizing them.
  • By 2019, 40 percent of digital transformation Initiatives will be supported by cognitive/AI capabilities, providing timely critical insights for new operating and monetization models.
  • By the end of 2018, at least 40 percent of organizations will have a fully staffed digital leadership team versus a single DX executive lead to accelerate enterprise-wide DX initiatives.

Here are a set of predictions about digital transformation from industry experts collected by eWEEK.

Swamy Viswanathan, EVP and Chief Products Officer, ASG Technologies: Businesses will consider more strategic approaches to digital transformation.
“They will begin shifting away from mindlessly adding the ‘latest and greatest’ solutions, and instead thoughtfully incorporate only the products and services that will enhance current operating procedures and systems.”

Dan Hushon, Senior Vice president and Chief Technology Officer, DXC Technology:  Enterprises will start re-platforming.
“In 2018, we’ll see an aggressive move to common IT platforms so companies can respond to market changes faster, be more productive, and make better-informed decisions. These common platforms are rich in analytics, follow the information flow of the business, and are simple enough that users can constantly change the business without writing (much) code. These common platforms provide very suitable if not substantially improved replacements for what used to be a custom build. They enable companies to shift their customization efforts from infrastructure to applications and the user experience. At the same time, they free up talent and working capital for differentiated services — where differentiation comes from information that enhances, or creates new, outcomes and experiences.”

Kevin McCaffrey, CEO and founder of Tr3Dent:

  • Business architecture will become mainstream within enterprise architecture. As enterprises put more emphasis on their digital strategy, the concept of “Business Ecosystems” will become widely used.
  • Digital revolution and business ecosystem modeling will help evolve industries often slow to adapt to digital change (i.e. manufacturing, utility and construction).

Sven Denecken, head of product and co-innovation of SAP’s S/4HANA Cloud: Big data and analytics investment will continue to grow.
A recent study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics found that 94 percent of leaders in business technology are investing in big data and analytics technology, fueling more access to real-time data. This will continue to be a top priority in 2018 for companies on their digital transformation journey, letting them turn insights into actions, for real-time results."

IR Research:  Digital transformation will reach the moment of truth in 2018.
“After years of investing in digital transformation initiatives, companies will finally have to demonstrate a concrete ROI in 2018. Organizations that have rushed ahead with projects that are not delivering ROI, or worse, are resulting in a poor customer experience, will gain public notoriety and suffer damage to their brand.”

Bruce Milne, VP and CMO, Pivot3: We’re moving toward intelligent infrastructures.
“Demand for advanced policy-based management capabilities will continue to grow in 2018, with a focus on platforms that offer a level of intelligence that provide insight into encryption or sensitive data. This is accomplished by predictably determining which updates to make by understanding how IT teams use the system, then automatically making recommendations, or allocating resources to specific applications, on-demand, in real time, and on the fly. Making infrastructure smarter and aligning it with what business leaders desire will be a key theme in the next year.”

Ravi Mayuram, SVP of engineering and CTO of Couchbase: Digital transformations will accelerate, led by a fundamental rethink of data infrastructure.
“Businesses have begun to understand the linkage between customer engagement and digital transformation. And in turn they’ve realized that using old infrastructure will not help them achieve this transformation. Therefore, more and more businesses will evolve their business models by fundamentally rethinking their data: how it is managed, how it is moved, and how it is presented to the customer. This fundamental rethink begins at the data infrastructure level, enabling the agility that will ultimately lead businesses to reach their digital transformation goals. The re-platforming of businesses’ database infrastructure to modern data platforms -- platforms that allow fluidity of data movement and secure management from edge to cloud -- will accelerate at an unprecedented pace.”

Nikita Ivanov, founder and CTO, GridGain Systems: In-memory databases and grids will become prime movers behind digital transformation.
“In-memory data grids are already a mainstream solution in many industries to deliver speed, scalability and high availability for application processing. I expect this trend to accelerate in 2018 as more enterprises recognize the need for greater performance and scalability and the solutions become increasingly affordable as the cost of RAM declines. Further, echoing predictions from industry analysts such as Gartner and others, I'm certain adoption of data grids and other in-memory computing technologies–including in-memory databases and non-volatile memory–will continue to surge as organizations increasingly recognize these technologies are essential to the success of their vital digital transformation initiatives.”

Roman Stanek, CEO of GoodData: Digital transformation and GDPR will push artificial intelligence (AI) further into widespread implementation.
“With the massive rise of digital transformation, businesses are simply not operating how they were 10 years ago. We are collecting more data, which we not only need to keep safe, but leverage for competitive advantage quickly. GDPR and digital transformation are two facets of the same coin; digital efforts will drive the growth of your data and needs to be better protected.  The business driver is customer experience and there’s no better way to improve customer experience than through AI. Robotic advisors, chatbots, active notifications and production recommendations are all examples of how AI have improved the customer experience.”

Forrester Research: Digital business strategy will reach the heart of business.
Forrester predicts that “the rapid maturation of AI, blockchain and conversational interfaces will force organizations to create new customer experiences, transform jobs and forge new partnerships. As technology continues to disrupt business, digital will disrupt the role of the CIO. A new breed of digital-savvy CIOs with digital backgrounds will emerge and demand a new title to fit their transformation.”

Dimension Data’s 2018 digital infrastructure predictions:

  • Speed will trump cost in three ways:
    • IT leaders will intensify their efforts to identify and eliminate the inhibitors of speed;
    • IT leaders will move away from lengthy, in-depth total cost of ownership analyses and instead choose the technology or platform that they can leverage the fastest; and
    • Organizations will identify the technologies and platforms that will deliver the business outcome they need at the required speed.
  • Businesses will need to embrace innovation by leveraging new tools that enable their developers to create new sources of competitive differentiation.
  • The rise of the API economy – organizations will start to see the wisdom in standardizing on a set of APIs.
  • As a result, businesses will need to revisit their architectures and ensure that they’re fit-for-purpose and future-proof.
  • There will be an intensified focus on exploiting the value of data, and ensuring that it’s provided to those who need it, when they need it.

Be sure to save the time/date for our next #eWEEKchat on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern. The topic is one of our favorites: “Predictions and Wild Guesses for IT in 2018.” Bookmark #eWEEKchat for starters; check here for further details.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...