Analyst Watch: IT predictions, or parlor tricks?

I think it’s about time that we addressed the elephant in the room: predictions are a bit of a parlor trick!

The problem is that we humans are horrible at predicting the future. There are several reasons for this, including challenges such as optimism bias, the curse of knowledge, and distinction bias.

As analysts, we’re always focused on what’s coming next. That means that we’re always looking to the future — and the future is changing very quickly!

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But things develop on the ground much more slowly. And that makes the game of predictions challenging. After all, who wants to predict that things will be much the same as this year, but just a little bit different!

With that elephant now gloriously on display, you may wonder why we even bother doing these sorts of prediction pieces if we’re sure that they’ll be (mostly) wrong.

That said, I see three macro trends converging and beginning to settle into some semblance of reality in 2020:

Digital transformation loses its mojo
First, I think that we’re going to see the term ‘digital transformation’ lose its cachet. We’re already seeing this start to happen (makes it easy to predict, right?) as tech marketers begin to look for new terms to use in their marketing salvos.

A bit like Dr. Seuss’s star-bellied Sneetches, no one wants to be talking about digital transformation when everyone is talking about it.

Ironically, however, this is probably going to be a good thing. As leaders get over the hype of the term, they’ll start getting down to the real business of actually transforming. The fundamental drivers that have always been at the heart of digital transformation are more real now than ever before, so this is a story that is just getting started.

The customer experience finds its place
One of those fundamental digital transformation drivers is the now-critical importance of the customer experience. The challenge is that most of the industry has taken the term to be synonymous with the sales experience.

This view is finally starting to shift (you see what I’m doing here, right?).

As digital transformation starts to get real (see prediction #1), organizations are getting their heads around the fact that the customer experience actually represents the totality of the customer journey — and that it’s at the center of real transformation.

As a result, I believe that we’ll see a fundamental shift in 2020 as organizations start to dig into what it will really take to create a differentiated customer experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle. And this reckoning will lead to my third prediction.

Technology evolution gives way to business evolution
Up to now, talk about transformation (digital or otherwise), has really been a conversation about technology evolution. What has been fascinating and gratifying over the last several months, however, is the number of tech companies that are finally moving past the hype and hyperbole and acknowledging both the real role — and the limits — of their given software when it comes to real transformation.

I’m not quite sure if this is because enterprise leaders have finally wisened up or if tech company leaders have finally realized that they don’t need to oversell anything (we need their solutions!). But whichever it is, it’s been a nice change of pace that we’re actually talking about the need for business transformation rather than just another technology project.

I believe that in 2020 we’ll see this come to fruition as enterprise leaders start to fully embrace the need for business transformation and see technology in its rightful role as part of the rapid business evolution that they require.

The Intellyx take: It’s about time
While producing these kinds of prediction pieces may be an end-of-year tradition, I’m genuinely excited about what I see happening this time around.

Paraphrasing futurist Daniel Burrus, it’s easy to predict the future as long as you see what’s already happening and follow it to its natural conclusion. That’s what I’m doing here this year.

These predictions are things that are already starting to happen. The critical question, however, is what it will mean to you.

As an enterprise leader, you should first look at these predictions (and the countless others that will be published) and critically ask yourself if you see them happening as well. Then, and most importantly, play out in your head the ramifications to you and your organization if they do happen as predicted.

Going through this process will help you prepare yourself and your organization for the future — whether any of these predictions are right or not.

Here’s to a transformative 2020! See you on the other side.

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