On Wednesday December 16th, I will participate in another Game Changers radio program with host Bonnie D. Graham. She will be joined by 16 guests that will share their predictions for 2016. To prepare for the show, I pulled together my predictions across six broad categories. These predictions are a mixture of leading indicators and hope. Here it goes…
Digital today has a bolt-on feel to it. Dominated by Marketing, the initial focus was channel oriented, isolated in nature, and layered on top of that which existed. It expanded to support a narrow customer experience and efficiency agenda. I say narrow, because digital is primarily applied to existing process, as opposed to leveraged to re-imagine process. As the main digital forces converge (Social, Mobil, Big Data, Analytics, and Cloud), a platform emerges to enable re-imagination. Yet Digital to date remains isolated on two levels: within company silos and across the main forces.
My prediction for 2016 is that isolation gives way to platform thinking. I’m seeing signs that the lines between business and digital strategy have blurred. The Breadth of digital is therefore expanding , and a holistic digital platform view is emerging. Time is of the essence, as right on the heels of this digital platform are a series of innovation accelerators that converge with the platform. These accelerators (Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 3D Printing, Internet of Things, etc.) are game changers, accelerating at a pace far greater than we experienced with the digital foundation. As such, this shift to platform thinking must occur, and 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the shift, embracing a holistic vision that addresses the pillars of transformation.
Customer experience broadens
Efforts that establish customer experience as the main source of differentiation are expanding; but it’s an elusive moving target. The organizational challenges that hinder optimal experiences will grow more acute, as a growing list of drivers (see visual below) raise the experience bar. This creates the need for next generation experience strategies and tactics. My prediction for 2016 is a broadening of the experience lens, with a greater focus on the experience enablers that align with the drivers in the visual below. This will represent one leg of a three-legged digital stool, alongside innovation and productivity. This broadening of the experience lens coincides with a broader view of digital strategy, and fuels the move towards organization redesign in 2016.
This breadth of focus will shine a light on the analytic and collaboration weakness in most organizations. It will underscore the need for an emergent mindset and the use of both foresight and insight. In 2016, we will see a shift from traditional omni-channel initiatives to programs that incorporate many of the experience enablers identified above.
2016 will be a year of shifts, setting the stage for rapid change in the latter half of the decade. One such shift is a focus on next generation productivity gains; and at the heart of these gains is automation. With the rapid advances in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things, we will see an increased focus on re-imagining not just how we drive efficiency, but how we create effectiveness. In 2016, automation efforts will begin the shift from digital window dressing to a complete re-thinking of how we do things. We will see the early stages of an intense focus on automating knowledge work; the use case specific application of artificial intelligence (think IBM Watson in diagnosing cancer). This will build the foundation for a rapid expansion of AI in 2017. These automation efforts will combine several building blocks to lay the foundation for the decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) of the future.
Business model innovation
The focus on growth (offense) and avoiding disruption (defense) has increased the dialog around future scenarios like smart homes, connected healthcare and connected cars across industries. Business model innovation has therefore become an imperative, especially in the context of emerging categories. Leading indicators tell me that 2016 will see an increased focus on understanding the future in a way that enables this innovation. In this context, I expect to see more experimentation in various value ecosystems, and the monetization of core assets and capabilities in new and creative ways. This in turn will make 2016 the year of the prototype. Rapid simulation and prototyping will be a key enabler of business model innovation.
Operating model innovation
The tensions within organizations that come from a need to perform in existing spaces, while penetrating emerging categories with speed, will cause existing models to break. In 2016, several emerging models will spearhead a drive towards effectiveness in this multimodal world. The discussions around bimodal and trimodal IT will accelerate, as will the pursuit of incubation approaches that allow innovation to flourish without fear of death via corporate antibodies. Increasingly in 2016, leaders will focus on the characteristics that enable future viability, with an intense focus on speed, agility, adaptability, and responsiveness. The growing pressure on existing operating models will create a burning platform for operating model innovation, and we may see the first significant shift in traditional models beginning in 2016.
Increasing focus on business services
The growing number of future scenarios, accelerating pace of change, and the growth imperative facing every company will drive an increased focus on business services in 2016. The need to encapsulate core capabilities and assets in the form of consumable services – both inside the enterprise and within ecosystems – will force many leaders to rethink traditional approaches. This will accelerate a focus on API management, Cloud adoption, and service oriented architectures in 2016.
That’s my quick look at 2016 based on the leading indicators that I have seen, specifically in the last four months. As society, government, business, and technology converge, we find ourselves at an interesting place in time. I believe we will look back at 2016 as the tipping point towards a very different future. Looking forward to the ride!
Updated: Here is a rebroadcast of the Game Changers 2016 predictions show