What does digital transformation look like in 2020?

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For companies trying to keep up with technology, it can be like looking into a crystal ball. The plans you make now and the products and services you release in the future both depend greatly on how the digital landscape changes. Miss a trend in technology, such as 5G networks or chatbots, and your company might be left behind.

This is one reason why it’s so important to keep track of the digital transformation trends on the horizon, as these can impact the plans you make today and help prepare you for how business is changing, evolving, and expanding. 

Fortunately, the big trends in digital transformation are not too difficult to track, as they've already started to impact business and will continue to do so in 2020. We’ve highlighted the trends that will have the biggest change on your business.

1. The Wi-Fi expansion continues

One trend set to continue into 2020 that has already begun is the emergence of faster, more reliable Wi-Fi. This is largely thanks to the approved Wi-Fi 6 standard, as after months and years of deliberation, the industry settled on a standard that improves on 802.11ac because of how well it works in congested areas such as stadiums, inside large companies and at public events.

Wi-Fi 6 also promises much faster speeds, which should help usher in a new age of widespread video streaming in business and in the home. We’re on the cusp of 4K and even 8K video emerging as not sideline or ancillary to the well-known 1080p video resolution, but as much more common for high-end videoconferencing, use in presentations, and in every aspect of business.

 2. Chatbots become more conversational 

Business leaders in Information Technology and beyond know that there is a second wave of chatbots on the horizon. Today's level of natural language processing is good but not great, as bots like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can converse somewhat - so if you ask a question about the weather, then ask “what about next week” the bot knows you’re still talking about the weather. 

That much we know. In 2020, bots will start to go several steps further in terms of intelligence level. By the end of 2020, users might ask a bot to engage in a conversation about politics. The user might start by asking questions related to political trends and news, but the chatbot will guide conversations with more statistics, helpful anecdotes, and even funny asides. In short, bots will act more like humans in how they converse and pick up on topics.

3. Social media analytics becomes more affordable

Social media analytics have become a normal part of the communication strategy for most companies today, with tools such as SocialFlow and Sprout Social integral if a company wants to understand user engagement on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The key question businesses are asking is about per-seat costs for these tools, which have become increasingly AI-driven, helpful for decision-makers, and ubiquitous.

In 2020, a new trend will emerge: Lower cost analytics. We’ve seen the trend already in 2019 with add-ons like Buffer Analyze which is a low-cost platform for social media analytics, and with emerging tools such as Agorapulse, which has the ability to track and analyze conversations, comments, and reactions to social media posts from a business.

4. 5G becomes viable

In 2019, companies watched as 5G debuted in major cities and became an actual, legitimate technology that shows up on the phone of end-users, as companies like Verizon flipped the “on” switch and made the faster, more reliable standard available. (At least to Android users; the Apple iPhone will be very late to the 5G launch party.)

As anyone who has researched the 5G landscape knows, this leap forward for the cellular data industry is not just about faster speeds. 5G is considerably more reliable especially in congested areas. The cellular technology is built for digital transformation because it can handle extreme levels of traffic without suffering from slowdowns or drop-outs.

 5. Artificial Intelligence improves 

Apart from chatbots (which tend to get the most attention), there’s no question that artificial intelligence will start to encroach into other areas of business. The trend here is that AI will expand in ways that are quite surprising, showing up in accounting apps, logistics programs, and even with kiosks we use at the front entrance of a building.

It’s hard to predict exactly how AI will invade in every aspects of business but it is a given that this will occur in ways we don’t expect - such as project management, or human resources, or on websites used for customer support - guiding customers through the support process in ways that seem highly automated and hard to distinguish from a human technician.

6. Privacy makes a triumphant return

Businesses have been concerned about privacy for some time, but 2020 will hopefully continue the trend of actual efforts and changes being made to address the problem. As you may know, in the U.S there is a presidential election that was hampered in 2016 by social media bots that were able to capture personalised data and feed that information into political campaigns.

In 2020, privacy concerns will extend far beyond politics, but the security field is not sitting idle. New forensic technologies will emerge including those for facial recognition and in other areas of biometrics to help verify the identity of individuals but also keep them secure and safe.

7. Biometrics advance even further

Speaking of protecting the identity of individuals: 2020 should see a digital transformation taking place in biometrics in terms of protecting our devices and systems from hackers in ways we haven’t seen before. One recent trend in security has to do with how we login to a computer and printers, relying on facial recognition or a fingerprint. The technology is improving such that it is faster, more reliable, and more secure for the end user.

However, this is also an advantage for the company itself trying to secure systems and interfaces. Data breaches are on the rise year after year, but biometrics will continue to improve and become more prevalent for all devices used in a corporate setting.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.