3. Digital Transformation
The digital economy is disintermediating every industry in every geography with no end in sight.
More and more business will be done digitally. However, the phrase “digital transformation” suffers from having no common definition.
The reality it is all about innovation. Small business owners need to keep reinventing themselves or suffer the consequences.
Those that provide innovative leadership will garner market share from the laggards, who are jeopardizing the survival of their small businesses. 2020 will see further examples of visionary firms gaining market share while firms sticking to business as usual (with or without IT-only enhancements) struggle to compete. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a required component to almost all new solutions.
Like digital transformation/innovation, it is ubiquitous and a prerequisite for most new applications that it can be superfluous to call it out in most cases. That said, there are a few areas where AI options are visible – robotic process automation, virtual agents, machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement inference learning.
The use of analytics, and machine learning will help improve real-time analysis, but cybersecurity breaches will still be a major challenge in 2020.
The Capital One and Facebook breaches (and by association, the cloud service providers (CSPs)) continue to demonstrate that companies (and governments) still have significant holes in their cybersecurity structures. Moreover, the successful ransomware attacks have emboldened more attacks, especially at government agencies.
2020 will produce more of the same, with the average financial impact increasing.
On top of that, most users remain oblivious to the impacts caused by poor email practices, use of insecure mobile apps, and insecure IoT devices. It is evident from examining the breaches that organizations have less of a technology problem than people and process failures (including the application of configurations, encryption, patches, and quality code).
Companies need to re-imagine their security practices from all angles and clean up their technical debt. Furthermore, the lack of CSP transparency remains an issue and an exposure in 2020, especially since the CSPs feel they offer secure platforms and the breaches are caused by customers’ failures.
The paradigm shift to a digital economy is not a technology issue – it is a business model transformation.
Small business executives cannot leave these decisions to IT executives or business/technology consultants. Executives need to determine what businesses they wish to be in, create the strategies, and then have the processes and applications designed and implemented. This is a multi-year initiative with a lot of moving parts.
2020 will be another challenging year for small business owners and IT executives. IT needs to work harder to integrate itself with the business and work collaboratively to enhance operations (whether onsite, in the cloud, or at the edge) and innovate new, simpler approaches to doing business.
Additionally, IT executives will need to invest in DevSecOps and other process improvements to help contain costs, enhance compliance, increase flexibility and responsiveness, minimize risks, and improve resource utilization. IT executives should collaborate with business and financial executives so that IT budgets, plans and strategies dovetail with the business and remain tightly integrated with the business throughout the year.