Digital transformation will “go pragmatic” in 2019, report predicts

A Forrester report predicts that top CIO's will "pragmatically" address the hurdles inherent to digital transformation over the following year

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2019 will be the “year of pragmatism” for many companies undertaking digital transformation. This is according to the market research firm Forrester, which just released its 2019 predictions in a new report.

Reflecting back on 2018

Last year, over 50% of digital transformation efforts stalled. According to Forrester, “although some progressive CIOs and CMOs drove change, most struggled to compel their organisations to see and act differently.”

Over the course of the year, leaders said that they “understood the scope and the magnitude” of the challenges at hand. However, far too many companies lacked organisational readiness and underestimated the work required.

Many companies also had poor data governance. This was often due to a lack of executive cohesion and the fear that it would interrupt quarterly performance.

Looking ahead to 2019

Organisational readiness, technical debt, data governance, and ageing brands will be the top challenges in 2019. “By pragmatically addressing these hurdles, leaders will create a more durable and potent foundation,” the report states.

On the other hand, this trend could “affirm the status quo and reinforce the organisational inertia” holding some firms back. Despite this, a year of pragmatism will be good for traction “if it yields purpose-driven, decisive, and more far-reaching strategies in 2020.”

Digital will become surgical

The report predicts that 25% of firms will decelerate digital efforts altogether and lose market share. In 2019, digital transformation will evolve from “super-wide enterprise efforts” to a “pragmatic, surgical portfolio view of digital investments.”

Tangible efforts will increase in order to achieve this. Shifting customers to lower-cost digital channels, launching digital products, monetising data, and automating processes will all intensify.

15% of firms will achieve digital transformation by embracing this method, the report predicts. A “fundamentally customer-driven, agile delivery model backed with modern development and architecture” will be key.

CIOs take charge

25% of CIOs will expand their remit, the report claims. The CIO will become the head of digital strategy, driving a plan “that harnesses the value of a wide range of new, powerful technologies; and maximising the value and security of today’s environment.”

CIOs will also spend time building their leadership teams and empowering trusted operators to handle day-to-day tasks. To Forrester, the most important outcome of 2019 will be leading CIOs building a “model that translates tech-led innovation into customer value.”

AI capabilities improve

Robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will also join forces to create digital workers for over 40% of enterprises. AI adoption barriers from 2018 will give way to more intelligent tools and an increased awareness of the importance of machine learning.

GDPR and escalating security concerns will move “data governance to a more ambient and contextual” state. In 2019, most firms will improve data governance as a result of AI.

RPA and AI innovations will also combine to “create business value while serving as a test bed for broader implementations” of the technologies. As a result, companies will “accelerate their ability to meet AI’s extraordinary promise.”

How can you make your Digital Transformation easier? CEO Sandeep Raut and Senior VP of marketing Paul Whitelam weigh in