Digital Trends

Digital transformation is here to stay, and as long as new technologies emerge it will continue to take on new shapes and impact enterprises across the globe in every sector and geography. As this disruption extends to new markets and calls for enterprises to become more agile and efficient in their operations, product development and customer-facing activities, the need for CIOs to become leaders in implementing frontier technology is skyrocketing.

Today, if something is not upgraded, it becomes obsolete. A CIO should be equipped with the tools to run an IT department like a business—a scalable, secure, digitalised business. To do this, CIOs need to stay on top of or get ahead of the latest digital trends.

Here are a few digital trends for CIOs to keep at the forefront of current or future, strategic implementation plans:

Balancing AI and Human Skills

CIOs play a pivotal role in how businesses integrate AI and automation into the workplace IT leaders need to be at the helm of AI implementation, because AI will inevitably replace many functions of an IT organisation, particularly on the operations side.  According to Forrester Research, automation will take the place of seven percent of jobs in the U.S by 2025. In the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 41% of participating companies reported they have fully implemented AI into their workforce.

Regardless of how fast and efficient AI and machining learning are, the human aspects of business such as empathy, ethics and personal service will never be replaced by digital transformation. Too much AI-driven activity will make enterprises rigid, and unable to adapt to changing industry landscapes.

Rather than discarding people in order to embrace robots, it’s crucial for companies to create ways for people and non-human workers to collaborate. This will start as a trend, and steadily grow into a means for businesses to sustain themselves and invent new jobs, while developing and maintaining happy customers and a healthy workplace culture.

The VR / HR Revolution

VR is going beyond gaming, entertainment and the medical field, and is being used to improve human resources. From recruiting to corporate training, VR is becoming a core aspect of employee management. The realistic scenarios made possible through VR allow for immersive, hands-on learning. In some cases, they also eliminate the need for dedicated physical spaces and equipment, which are costly for HR departments.

In 2016, Fidelity labs, the research arm of Fidelity Investments, built a business app for the HTC Vive VR headset to help HR managers monitor their employees and their retirement plans better. Before that, Fidelity launched a VR app for Oculus Rift to help investors keep track of their portfolios.

Tracking Productivity & Happiness

Research company Tractica expects the use of wearables in office environments and industrial settings to surge, predicting that more than 75 million of such devices will be deployed in work settings by 2020.

Not long ago, strapping on a pedometer during a lunchtime walk was the cutting edge of using wearables on the job. As the technology has evolved, wearables have moved beyond employee fitness programs and into emotional well-being. In 2015, Hitachi created a sensor that gathers and analyses data on human behaviour, and quantifies the “happiness level” of a group by the patterns of their physical movements.

This is just the beginning. As more corporations look for ways to motivate their teams, alleviate stress levels, and cater to Millennials, who seek purpose-driven work, happiness-tracking tech will be in high demand.

Diving Into Deep Learning

All this new use of technology means an onslaught of data will be available and necessary to mine. Couple this with the infiltration of predictive analytics added to enterprise software, and it’s fair to say that in the near future IT will not function without AI, machine learning or deep learning—a subset and strategy of machine learning used by the research community to find patterns in big data not visible to the human eye.

Currently, the algorithms of deep learning systems are capable of image recognition, speech recognition, identifying landmarks, recognising diseases and analysing pollution. Imagine what deep learning could discover about a business’s productivity, consumer base, carbon footprint and employee engagement.

As mentioned above, machines and humans will be collaborating in no time at all. This will be when digital transformation and human intention collide. The companies that succeed at this intersection will win over their customers and their employees. And that above all else is a trend worth following.

Melissa Jun Rowley is an entrepreneur, writer and world-leading expert on intersecting entrepreneurship, technology  and media to promote social justice. Melissa is co-founder of Resolve, a specialist accelerator aiming to help startups and business hubs achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. For more information see www.weresolve.co

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