Temptation is almost inevitable. Everybody is talking about something new, describing wonderful experiences during its implementation, and contributing a futuristic vision of the business world. Those who are paying attention want the very same thing for their organization. And they want it now. Whenever the big technology consulting firms publish their predictions for the new year, many leaders of middle-sector companies seem to be fascinated. However, running blindly after new trends can be a trap for your organization. Let us explain why.
Transforming, modernizing, and renovating a company requires a balanced plan focused on the future without losing sight of immediate needs. This challenge was compounded during the changing, dizzying pandemic. Straying from the plan to invest heavily in the latest “technology trend” could destroy the structure. How can the balance be restored? How do you choose which trends to follow and which to ignore?
Playing it safe
Ubiquitous and mature technologies are not included in the discussion. At this point, no organization discusses whether migrating to the cloud is convenient or not (Gartner estimates that spending on the cloud will grow from the USD 314 billion in 2020 to USD 482 billion in 2022), or whether or not incorporating artificial intelligence (Gartner also calculates that spending in AI software alone will grow 21.3% this year), or opting for predictive analytics (which, according to Facts & Factors, increases 24.5% per year), or incorporating automation in their operations (Precedence Research indicates that the market will grow from USD 2.6 billion in 2021 to USD 3.4 billion in 2022). Blockchain –which allows adding perfect transparency, reliability, and traceability to business processes– is growing steadily. IDC calculates that the global market grew an astounding 50% between 2020 and 2021.
Even with this type of mature technologies, it is not good to “chase after the latest fad.” As technology partners, we can help our clients transition to digital transformation. We frequently hear clients say, “let’s add artificial intelligence.” That is a huge mistake! If there is no good business case, or if the return on investment has not been weighed in, or if there is no plan to obtain value for implementing it, then it makes no real sense to pursue it.
Guarantee for the future
There are technological concepts that only expand in organizations for their very philosophy. Let’s consider high-performance computing. The growth in research, extensive data-based analysis, and the consolidation of applications supported by highly demanding technologies of computational power –such as artificial intelligence or virtual and augmented reality– account for the need for power to grow continually. In its predictions for 2022, Silicon Valley-based Pegasus Tech Ventures –which specializes in venture capital– expects significant progress in business-oriented quantum-computing developments over the next few months, and it will later accelerate.
Another topic that needs to be placed on the agenda is sustainability. According to IDC, by 2025, 60% of the 2,000 most influential companies in the world will have a digital sustainability team. The PitchBook report concludes that the events of 2020 and 2021 led 43% of PEs and VCs to focus on sustainable investments increasingly. In this case, we are not talking about a fad or a passing trend: COVID-19 has led to a more responsible world and more ethical consumption.
When doubt creeps in
Sometimes, the trend does not seem to be so precise. Take as an example the question of what to do with the metaverse. The metaverse is a parallel, immersive, omnipresent, and free-access digital reality that combines social media, online games, augmented reality, virtual reality, and cryptocurrencies. The metaverse could potentially have a higher impact than the internet when launched. It is supposed to revolutionize consumption and allow friction-free access to services. The reality, though, indicates that, for the time being, there are very few companies with a genuine interest and direct investments in the field. Maybe, middle-sector organizations need to be cautious. They need to consider what movements are taking place, what actual opportunities exist in this new field, and how they could structure business models compatible with digital reality. Diving head-first into the metaverse does not seem to be the best option, just for the sake of being one of the first. Neither is not studying the topic at all and being one of the last.
Gamification is linked to the above. Its purpose is to bring the ludic structure of games into the business world to stimulate clients and collaborators, increase engagement, and foster greater participation. Thus, gamification is a key factor to attract, compete and win consumers and collaborators who now have more options within reach. In this case, the main challenge is to understand the actual needs of the target audience, so the proposal is truly attractive. Otherwise, a premature failure when implementing it could trigger a reverse domino effect and damage future projects.
To conclude, it makes no sense for an organization to pursue all emerging trends (in fact, if we look at the forecasts of recent years, we will see that they do not always come true). The best option still is to analyze the specific needs of each business and understand how the new available technologies can contribute solutions and add value. Ironically, in terms of IT, trying to stay at the top of the wave could be the perfect recipe to sink.