Editor's note: The following is a guest article from David Glazer, practice lead at Info-Tech Research Group. He leads digital strategy, innovation and emerging trends research.
It is the start of 2020, and by now we've all had a moment where we thought our devices might be spying on us. Artificial intelligence has already delivered the ability to predict our needs and wants with incredible accuracy.
While AI and other emerging technologies afford us the prospect of automating nearly everything in sight for the sake of efficiency, there's also an amazing potential for stakeholder value. Delivering stakeholder value implies a long-term approach that prioritizes the human benefits of technology: experience, resilience and trust, as opposed to only business benefits, such as scale and efficiency.
2020 marks the decade IT adopts its role in business transformation, and the shift toward the human benefits of technology is the major transformation that needs to occur. Platforms will enable this transformation.
In 2020, organizations considering platform strategies must learn that under certain conditions a platform may achieve market dominance. Dominance, or "tipping," will occur when the network effects (the degree to which platform users benefit when there are more users present), and the multihoming costs (the difficulty in switching platforms) are high.
This dynamic will continue to have a major effect on business strategy over the next decade, and the stakes are going to get higher with the arrival of AI-driven competitive advantage, which in 2020 will happen at the network's edge. It will impact workplace transformations as environments where people can work with machines in symbiotic relationships will emerge.
Where centralized approaches may have worked in the past, the advent of new reinforcement learning techniques will create a need for distributing trust and validation across networks. This will all be reliant on the organization's access to the data sets required to train their algorithms, which in 2020 will be dependent on their digital ethics.
While these changes take shape, IT teams can expect more tasks supporting business transformation, as business stakeholders consider innovation three times more important compared to those in IT.
IT will face the challenge of catching up and keeping up with this new task.
Here are five ways CIOs can do that:
1. Get processes ready
It's difficult to automate a process that hasn't been standardized, but before standardization can occur, the process must work well. An organization shouldn't scale up a process that isn't delivering benefit.
2. Rebrand IT as a collaboration engine
Command and control is so 2019. It's time to reposition IT as the trusted advisor, mediator and negotiator on behalf of all stakeholders to ensure business value is achieved from the emerging technologies.
3. Define and manage cybersecurity and resilience
Make sure the organization can bounce back quickly if there's a breach, because at some point, there probably will be.
4. Build a workforce plan
Companies are making the adoption of emerging technologies a business priority, but few have the skills on deck, to take advantage. It's time to fill this gap whether it's through a dedicated training program for existing staff, or through talent acquisition.
5. Become a steward of human benefit
The pace of change has never been faster and will never be as slow as it is right now again. In order to avoid the unintended consequences of over-automation, IT leaders must leverage their influence to ensure that if a technology is being adopted, it either makes someone's life better, improves trust between partners or helps the organization become more resilient.
In 2020, it's time to redefine what is "core" to IT. Hiding in the back-office is the path to obsolescence. If someone is looking for a stable career where nothing ever changes, they should not be in IT. The new core involves business transformation, and that's an exciting change.