Predictions: 2019 Digital Transformation Trends

by Peter Barker Rufus Leonard

This year, 2018, was one of companies diving head first into digital transformation programmes, often, without a clear strategy. In 2019, those same companies will have to sit back and evaluate, connecting all the work done in 2018, before pushing on with a clear, holistic transformation strategy. This will include incremental progress on building the foundations for hard-to-use but impactful technology such as A.I, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, to name only a few.

Next year should be taken as an opportunity to connect and combine individual, separate digital projects into one digital transformation strategy. The coming year will provide the freedom to make progress on key areas, before a monumental year in 2020.

Along with this general theme, there are a number of key trends set to make an impact:

1. CIOs will need to reinvent their roles and become more predictive about the most effective ways to harness emerging technologies to drive strategic enterprise goals. Tech KPIs will be aligned with broader organisational goals as the lines between business transformation and digital transformation blur.

2. Digital transformation will move from whole enterprise efforts to pragmatic, surgical investments — making incremental, necessary changes to operations. Innovation will be key to the success of this (CIO). Firms will successfully cross the digital bridge by embracing a fundamentally customer-driven, agile delivery model.

3. Purpose will once again become a strategic priority, acting as the north star — guiding business and brand decisions during transformation efforts in increasingly difficult, turbulent times, before a potential economic downturn in 2020.

4. New forms of leadership and management are required for business transformation efforts. Increasingly, C-suite leadership (specifically CEOs, with the help of CIOs) will be tasked with leading the change. New roles, like product and experience managers, will be responsible for managing the relationship between Marketing and I.T. functions during transformation journeys.

5. Data, analytics and machine learning again grows as a top priority for the CIO and the business — 60 per cent of CIO’s are growing their budget for analytics, data science and machine learning. 2019 will be a year of progress for businesses in this area, using other technology to leverage information to support decision makers.

6. Building a better understanding of the holistic tech stack will be essential with more technology being integrated into processes, and a general shift to connecting these constituent parts with I.O.T. To facilitate this, digital ecosystems are essential. They will guide and inform customer-facing experiences, but also improve business operations.

7. Lack of expertise and skills is continually a major barrier to digital transformation success, impacting around 40 per cent of organisations, so upskilling and educating workers will continue to be a priority in 2019. Alongside this, CIOs will turn to platforms and applications to help — for example, enterprise service management platforms like ServiceNow.

8. More companies will focus on two-tier digital transformation approaches — using multiple systems for different functions, rather than assuming a single software solution can deliver what’s required. For example, parent companies could integrate standard back-office systems, while departments could use more customer-facing systems, closer aligned to their needs and how they want to use the technology.

9. Due to the increasing complexity of digital transformation and technology integration, many successful companies are beginning their transformation journey with a ‘Phase 0’. This is a preparation phase which ensures the organisation is ready for implementation, avoiding the mistake many companies make of jumping right in with multiple, siloed digital projects, with no clear strategy. (

10. A.I. is a potentially transformative tool but there were many barriers to its adoption in 2018. 2019 won’t be the year of wide implementation of A.I. but the building blocks will be made for future integration. Quick wins like automating standard, back-office processes will be common, as a way to get businesses off the mark with A.I. adoption.