Global advisory services group Deloitte has released its twelfth yearly technology trends report, outlining the evolving technology landscape and the industry disruptors for the next 18 to 24 months.
This year’s edition of the Deloitte Tech Trends 2021 report showcases nine trends such as technology enabling strategic design, supply chain transformation, embracing diversity, equity and inclusion as business imperatives, rebooting the digital workplace and realising the full benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
One key insight emerging from this year’s edition is the need for businesses to align their strategies with that of technology.
Businesses and technology strategies are becoming increasingly inseparable, as technology choices bear a greater role in enabling or potentially constraining organisational strategy.
Under the trend of ‘strategy, engineered’, the report pointed out that there is a need to close the technology and business strategy chasm.
The past technology choices of many organisations are limiting strategic options and business agility, which now necessitates a “lean in” to technology architecture and technology implementation and an alignment of technology choices to support the overall business strategy.
“Ultimately, strategists should collaborate with technology leaders to confirm that the organisation’s critical technologies support the organisational strategy and that the organisation’s technologists have the right framework and understanding of the corporate strategy to make their day-to-day technology decisions.”
In the second trend, “core revival”, Deloitte outlines how the modernisation of legacy enterprise systems and migrating them to the cloud may help improve an organisation’s digital potential.
“In a business climate defined by historic uncertainty, these innovative approaches for extracting more value from legacy core assets may soon become standard components of every chief information officer’s digital transformation playbook,” Deloitte said.
“For many, the cost of needed cloud migrations and other core modernisation strategies can be prohibitive. This is about to change. In what we recognise as a growing trend, some pioneering companies are beginning to use clever outsourcing arrangements to re-engineer traditional business cases for core modernisation.”
Meanwhile, under the “supply unchained” trend, supply chains are moving out of the back office and onto the value-enabling front lines of customer segmentation and product differentiation.
Future-focused manufacturers, retailers and distributors, besides others, are exploring ways to transform the supply chain cost centre into a customer-focused driver of value, increasingly extracting more value from the data they collect, analyse and share across their supply networks.
In addition, some organisations are exploring opportunities to use robots, drones and advanced image recognition to make physical supply chain interactions more efficient, effective and safe for employees.
Another trend predicted by Deloitte is that of industrialised AI, where sophisticated machine learning models help companies efficiently discover patterns, reveal anomalies, make predictions and decisions and generate insights.
These are increasingly becoming key drivers of organisational performance.
“With machine learning poised to overhaul enterprise operations and decision-making, a growing number of AI pioneers are realising that legacy data models and infrastructure – all designed to support decision-making by humans, not machines – could be a roadblock to machine learning success. In response, these organisations are taking steps to disrupt the data management value chain from end-to-end.”
“As part of a growing trend, they are deploying new technologies and approaches including advanced data capture and structuring capabilities, analytics to identify connections among random data and next-generation cloud-based data stores to support complex modelling,” the report highlighted.
The combination of these tools and techniques can help organisations turn growing volumes of data into a future-ready foundation for a new era in which machines will not only augment human decision-making but make real-time and at-scale decisions that humans cannot.
The report also outlined trends such as zero trust, always verifying security architectures to help strengthen security, and simplifying security management and improving end-user experience as sophisticated cyberattacks and shifting enterprise environments undermine the traditional approaches to cybersecurity.
“In zero trust architectures, every access request should be validated based on all available data points, including user identity, device, location, and other variables that provide context to each connection and allow more nuanced, risk-based decisions.”
Further, companies will be looking to “reboot the digital workplace” as they determine what the future of the workplace will be following the world’s largest unplanned work-from-home experiment.
The report also talks to “bespoke for billions” where digital meets physical, with consumers increasingly expecting a blend of both physical and digital brand experiences that offer highly personalised, in-person experiences without sacrificing the convenience of online transactions.
Lastly, organisations are increasingly embracing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) technology as business imperatives, with a growing number adopting holistic, organisation-wide workforce strategies that address biases and inequities to enhance enterprise and employee performance.
“While human resources professionals often lead DEI strategies, technology leaders play a critical role as a strategic partner by designing, developing and executing technology-enabled solutions to address increasingly complex DEI workforce challenges,” Deloitte explained in the report.
“Over the coming months, we expect enterprises to adopt new tools that incorporate advanced analytics, automation and AI, including natural language processing and machine learning, to help inform, deliver and measure the impact of DEI.”