21 “You Can’t Afford to Miss” Digital Transformation Trends to Implement This Year: 7 Experts Weigh In

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  • Is your business struggling to stay relevant in the digital age?
  • Are you struggling to retain employees, gain enough new customers, or fulfill all the orders you have?
  • Has the pandemic left your operations stretched to the max?

If so, you’re not alone.

Thousands of companies are feeling this way over the last few years. The pandemic hit businesses hard, and it forced many to go digital in a more meaningful way than ever before. From now on, companies must follow the latest digital transformation trends in order to survive. That’s due to many factors and reasons, including the increase in remote work, digital communications, and automation. If you don’t have a digital transformation strategy in place, now is the time to implement one before you get left behind.

Digital transformation is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot. It can be a tad confusing when discussing everything that digital transformation can mean. I recently wondered what my colleagues thought about the current state of digital transformation services. That’s why I reached out to the top experts in digital transformation and asked these questions:

  1. Who would you vote for as the company delivering the best digital transformation services? And why?
  2. What are the top 2 digital transformation trends companies must take notice of? And why?
  3. What myths are there about digital transformation that need to be dispelled? And why?
  4. Any other advice would you recommend for those on their digital transformation journey?

I was able to get a number of intriguing and insightful answers, which I’ll share with you as soon as I break down the top 21 digital transformation trends that you need to follow in the future.

What Is Digital Transformation & Can We Afford To Skip It Any Longer?

Which Section Do You Want to Read First?

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In broad terms, digital transformation is effortless to understand. It simply refers to using technology to transform your services and processes. That could be as simple as replacing a notebook and pen with a spreadsheet on a computer. It could also be as complex as using machine learning to improve efficiency in your factory. Therein lies the complicated nature of digital transformation. It’s a very loose term that could mean thousands of different things, some simple, some complex.

The qualifying factor for digital transformation is that it uses tech to modify:

As long as you’re using a form of technology to change one of those three things, then you’re engaging in digital transformation.

So are digital transformation solutions something that a business can ignore in today’s age? Absolutely not! The pandemic made sure that no company can skip the process from now on.

Why are businesses experiencing a digital transformation? Well, they could no longer serve customers in person, for one. Thanks to COVID-19, many companies had to venture deeper into the online space. As you probably guessed, selling your products or services (B2B or B2C) online is a form of digital transformation.

Now that you know why digital transformation is a crucial part of any modern business strategy, let’s look at the top 21 trends that you should follow going into the future.

1. Widespread 5G Adoption

We can expect to see a lot more of 5G in the coming years. The plan is to expand or replace the current 4G LTE connection for a significant increase in speed. Just how fast is 5G? Here’s a quick comparison:

  • LTE peaks at 300 Mbps
  • 5G peaks at a whopping 2 Gbps

With this enhanced speed comes quicker streaming, downloading, and uploading. That’s good news for emerging technologies such as self-driving vehicles. For them to work correctly, they need the speed to process loads of information at once. 5G will also help to make smart cities a reality.

It’s also great for traditional manufacturing companies. 5G has a lot of potential to improve production speed and communication capabilities for factories. It will also add a much-needed boost to automation. With higher processing speeds, companies can scale their automation efforts.

2. A Higher Emphasis on Machine Learning & AI

Any given company produces a whole heap of data every single day. Yet, we’re currently able to use only about 1% of the data for analytics. Just imagine the potential that the other 99% has for your company!

If you want to use this vital data, you need to invest in machine learning and AI processing. When you combine the two, you can process unbelievable amounts of data. It works like this:

  • You use AI to process and make sense of all the data
  • You use machine learning to automate the tasks involved in analyzing the data

It’s as easy as that!

3. Shifting to a Digital Economy’s Blistering Pace

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As stated before, the pandemic accelerated a new age in digital transformation. The quarantine effectively rewarded companies that were frontrunners of digital communication and had digital services in place. If customers were able to buy goods or services online (or could do so more efficiently/effectively, your company will survive.

For other companies, digital transformation strategy came in the form of remote work. Being able to set up your employees to do their jobs at home was no easy task. The companies that weren’t able to keep up either didn’t make it or are struggling.

Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve seen the birth of a digital economy. You can expect the changes that accelerated to become our “new normal”.

4. Multi-Cloud Solutions Minimize Data Loss

The cloud continues to see a rise in popularity as time marches on. What’s different is that many companies are opting for a multi-cloud solution. Instead of going with a private or public cloud, companies are beginning to mix and match. In other words, they’re going for the best of both worlds.

In the future, you can expect to see more businesses going multi-cloud. The major tech companies are taking note, too. Lots of them, such as IBM, are offering multi-cloud architectures for users.

5. Exploding Blockchain Applications

Blockchain has been one of the most critical recent digital transformation trends. The only problem has been its usability, but that’s planning to change going forward. Lots of companies have been coming up with more uses for the technology. Businesses have been using Blockchain in:

  • Food safety
  • Real estate management
  • Intellectual property
  • Food safety
  • Accounting
  • Among others

As lots of companies strive to make Blockchain more accessible, we’re bound to see more uses for it in the future.

6. Edge Computing Supercharges Things

What is Edge Computing?

It can be very time-consuming to have your data on your central platform. To increase speed and reduce latency issues, move your crucial data to the edge. This process is what we call edge computing. The rise of 5G and faster speeds will encourage lots of edge computing to mitigate issues.

You can think of edge computing as more of a topology than a technology. It’s about bringing computation and data storage closer to where you need it most. That does a lot to improve response times.

If you have to dive into the center of your platform for every transaction, you can expect lots of lag and slowdown. Since your users are out on the edge of your system, your data should be, too.

7. More Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

Customer data platforms have been on the rise, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The reason is quite simple. Taking in data from numerous sources is an easy way to get disorganized. Using a CDP will help you tag, organize, and make data usable. Data will only continue to grow as time goes on, so the need for CDPs will grow as well.

If your company struggles to keep up with all your fragmented data, then a CDP may just what the doctor ordered.

8. Advanced Cybersecurity Solutions Required

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Solid cybersecurity is a critical part of any robust digital transformation strategy. COVID-19 has only accelerated that trend.

During the pandemic, attacks on banks and businesses saw a considerable rise. Hackers preyed on the fact that many companies didn’t have employees on-site or didn’t have robust software safeguards in place. Lots of data and information were vulnerable, and hackers took full advantage.

In the future, expect AI and Machine Learning to play a significant role in automated security measures. I also think we will see a lot of advancements in firewalls and intrusion detection.

9. A Rise in “Confidential” Computing

Another attractive cybersecurity measure is to make use of confidential computing. That refers to encrypting the entire user experience. You see, in the past, private computing only encrypted the data.

Trustworthy confidential computing will encrypt everything involved in the computing process. That will add much-needed layers of additional security for users.

While this technology is still new, lots of companies are chomping at the bit to get started. Confidential computing is a tremendous digital transformation strategy for companies all about privacy.

10. More Intelligent Smartbots for E-Commerce

Chatbots have been one of the most popular digital transformation solutions in recent years. That’s because they add so much value to online businesses. Chatbots can solve user problems, finish transactions, and more without requiring human interaction for many of those.

We’re seeing more innovations in chatbots. For one, they’re getting a lot smarter. While they’re still quite a ways away from holding a normal conversation, they’re getting closer. Tech companies are working hard to improve chatbots’ hearing, language capabilities, and functions.

11. Self-Driving Cars

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It doesn’t get much more futuristic than a car that can drive itself. Thanks to the rise of 5G and AI capabilities, we’re closer now than ever. With widespread 5G, autonomous cars can process vast amounts of information on the fly. They can communicate with all the other vehicles on the road.

Beyond consumer use, self-driving cars can help a lot of businesses. For this reason, they’re a form of digital transformation. Taxi or ride-sharing services, for example, can implement self-driving cars to revolutionize their industry. And this has application in the manufacturing space, from forklifts to other types of equipment.

12. Headless Tech is the Future of Commerce

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While the term may conjure up images of horror movies instead of e-commerce, headless tech is here to stay. So what does it mean? Well, headless tech refers to:

  • Separating your customer-facing storefront from your back-end payment processing and storage
  • Drastically improving the loading speed of your website
  • Merging your sales channels together as one
  • More flexibility in how you visually present your products

Say that you have a Shopify store that you’ve continued to scale. After reaching a certain level of business, you feel that you’ve outgrown the platform. Yet, you’d like to retain their fantastic payment processing. By going headless, you can have the best of both worlds. In other words, you can use another platform such as Contentful for your customer-facing store. At the same time, you keep Shopify’s back-end payment processing.

What you’ve done is remove Shopify’s ‘head’ and replace it with Contentful. Make sense? Headless tech can also provide quick and easy marketing for your company through increasing your channels.

13. Remote Work is the New Norm


2020 saw a massive boom in remote work across the country. That was a huge form of digital transformation for many companies. The thing is that lots of remote positions are here to stay. Employees have enjoyed the work flexibility, and they weren’t the only ones to benefit.

Independent remote consulting saw a huge upswing in 2020 as well. Currently, there’s a huge trend toward collectives instead of the traditional agency model. If you’re a budding independent consultant, then check out this company to accelerate your journey.

Thanks to the widespread deployment of remote work technologies, it’s easy to set up a home office. Companies also benefit from not having to pay for physical office spaces.

As remote work continues to rise, you can expect to see people migrate from busy cities to more open local areas.

14. A Massive Surge in AI Democratization

Remote work wasn’t the only effect of COVID-19. During the outbreak, leaders needed all hands on deck to stop the spread. They turned to machine learning processes and AI to get the job done which also moved towards democratization as a result.

We’re bound to see this trend continue well into the future. After all, AI plays a huge part in our everyday lives, whether we can see it or not. Everything from your recommended movies on Netflix to manufacturing products benefit greatly from AI. It’s also a great way to bring digital transformation services into your company as AI continues to democratize.

15. Collaborative Leadership & Expanding the Role of CIOs & CMOs

Digital transformation is changing a lot more than technology. One of the biggest areas affected is the world of leadership. Going forward, leaders are going to need to rethink their roles.

In particular, there’s a push toward expanding the role of a Chief Information Officer.

Since technology and digitization will be at the forefront of most companies, CIOs will have more influential roles. This study claims that it’s no longer enough for CIOs to be trusted operators or strategists. Instead, they’ll need to be the drivers of change throughout the entire enterprise.

There’s also a growing emphasis on collaborative leadership through tools such as Mural or Miro. As the complexity of technology continues to grow, collaboration becomes more and more crucial.

16. The Rise of Wi-Fi 6

There’s a new form of Wi-Fi on the horizon, and it has some fantastic features. Also, the Wi-Fi Alliance has recently made the naming scheme for Wi-Fi much easier to follow. The versions of the technology are now referred to as:

So what’s new with Wi-Fi 6 besides the name? For starters, it has a download speed that’s 4x faster than Wi-Fi 5. It can also support more devices than ever before.

17. Automating Sales Workflows & Email Automation

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The world of sales isn’t immune to digital transformation, either. Compared to just 5 years ago, the number of software tools for sales is staggering. As a result, a common sales rep has around 5-10 software tools to use for their tasks.

These include programs like Salesforce, Client Success, Gainsight, and more.

Due to this over saturation of software, sales reps can find themselves a bit bogged down. Sure, they have 9 million tools that claim to ‘boost productivity,’ but they can backfire when there’s too many.

That’s why it’s crucial to sit down and come up with detailed workflows for your sales staff. That way, you can determine which tasks are necessary, which you can automate, and which you can do without.

And don’t forget about email nurturing workflows to warm up prospects who aren’t quite ready to buy just yet.

18. Smarter Programs for Talent Acquisition

Recruiters can rejoice, as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) keep improving. These programs track all applicants as they go through the recruitment process. There’s a huge demand for employment, and recruiters can find themselves overwhelmed.

For larger firms, it’s not unheard of for one position to receive thousands of applications, but it remains a challenge to sift through those and find the needle in the haystack which frutstrates both companies and candidates alike.

It’s critical to improve these ATS programs to help with sorting through candidates but also to recognize that we cannot afford to lose the human element to this exchange of information. If we don’t lose sight of this, ATS programs have the ability to assist recruiters to find unicorn-level candidates.

19. Enhanced Data Protection & Privacy Laws

Your data is absolutely critical to your business. If you don’t take protecting your information seriously, you could stand to lose everything. While the importance of cybersecurity is becoming more known, protecting data is a huge issue. You probably remember the massive data breach that happened to Facebook in 2018.

More recently in 2020, video game behemoth Nintendo suffered a cyber attack. Despite their security efforts, more than 160,000 accounts were hacked. Well, it’s for these reasons that more stringent data protection methods have come into play.

Thanks to the new laws in place such as the GDPR & CCPA, we’re bound to see continued efforts toward protecting data in the future.

20. Virtual Reality for Educational Purposes

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Digital transformation trends aren’t exclusive to the commercial sector. The education field has seen some incredible innovations recently. One of the most exciting is the implementation of augmented and virtual reality.

Picture being whisked into the cosmos to study the stars in science class. That’s entirely possible with the implementation of VR! The possibilities are virtually endless, no pun intended. Augmented and virtual reality could replace the traditional field trip. Instead of paying for the children to leave school, a visit to the zoo can happen in a virtual environment.

VR has massive potential for businesses too. Now you can train your employees through VR before putting them behind the wheel of a risky machine. That way, they know precisely what to do when operating the machine for the first time. You can also use VR to simulate different emergency scenarios to see how well your employees respond to them. The training potential that VR has for B2B companies is nearly infinite.

21. The Prominence of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing played a part in containing the outbreak in 2020. It was used to create vaccines and develop therapeutics. IBM and Honeywell have been hard at work honing the massive potential of quantum computing. With it, you can easily:

  • Query data
  • Analyze data
  • Monitor data
  • Act on data

You can perform all of these actions at scale and at any time. Thanks to these amazing capabilities, quantum computing is sure to see a rise in prominence in the next few years.

There you have the top emerging 21 digital transformation trends that you can no longer afford to ignore. Now, back to those 7 digital transformation expert responses:

7 Digital Transformation Experts Weigh In On Current Trends and Myths

Ask The Expert

I reached out to the top digital transformation gurus to see what they thought about the current state of things. As stated before, digital transformation is a massive topic that can encompass a lot. That’s why I was so curious to see what these fellow experts thought about the most recent trends.

Read on to check out what experts had to say to these 4 questions:

  1. Who would you vote for as the company delivering the best digital transformation services? And why?
  2. What are the top 2 digital transformation trends companies must take notice of? And why?
  3. What myths are there about digital transformation that need to be dispelled? And why?
  4. Any other advice would you recommend for those on their digital transformation journey?

1. Scott Taylor (The Data Whisperer at MetaMeta Consulting)

  1. Carvana – Completely transformed the car selling process from one filled with angst, stress and mistrust – to a seamless almost magical process.
  2. Data management and data management – If you do not have a solid data foundation none of that other cool stuff will work at scale. Watch this 3 minute video for more explanation: https://youtu.be/mMs8iTUkVS4.
  3. All you need is software and a high priced consultancy!
  4. I only have one piece of advice for any of these companies – get your data mastered or you are in a world of hurt.

2. Miles Anthony Smith (Why Stuff Sucks®)

  1. There are a lot of great companies around today, and What Stuff Sucks® is one of those leading the way. Going digital isn’t just about installing some software or improving a process and calling it a day, it’s an entire way of doing business. That’s why internal team alignment is so important. Our digital transformation strategies completely align our clients’ resources, staff, and digital systems.
  2. It varies from company to company. I will say that migrating to cloud solutions is a must for any company in today’s age. Another big one is equipping your staff for remote work and remote consulting so they can truly thrive in today’s fast paced, ever changing environment. Finally, embracing the things that suck and figuring out how to adapt to our circumstances, rather than resist or shrink back, is key to future success.
  3. A big myth is that it’s an entirely process driven experience. Digital transformation involves leadership, development, marketing, sales, and more. It goes above and beyond implementing new programs and products to changing the way people think and act. A smart digital transformation strategy involves onboarding and training your people for new ways of doing business.
  4. This is a marathon, not a sprint so pace yourself and keep going. Resist the urge to make this an event and turn it into a long term, ongoing habit.

3. Dave Bondo (Managing Partner at Liftoff IT)

  1. The one that best understands the variables in your business and is unbiased in their recommendations.
  2. 1.) The number of solution providers makes choosing partners very difficult. 2.) Moving to a cloud solution means that you are outsourcing. You have to get over thinking this is a dirty word.
  3. 1.) Security – Cloud services often times have better security than an operator can provide. So, instead of being worried about security from a cloud provider, operators should worry about trying to do it themselves.
  4. Understand what the future state looks like before starting and understand that there are three phases 1.) Just getting started 2.) Growing the cloud footprint and figuring out how to control growth and expenses… “guard rails.” 3.) Mature cloud-oriented operators who now would like to figure out how to automate and provide more self-service.

4. Felix Holzapfel (Founder of Quovabiz Inc.)

  1. Unfortunately, there is no one answer that fits this question. Instead, the choice depends on the size of your business, region of operation, targets, what type of digital transformation services you are looking for, et cetera. Full-Service, international scale, for corporate clients: Accenture or Cognizant, both have plenty of experience and the necessary scale to deliver these types of projects. They also have offices in most areas of the world to collaborate on a truly international level. Selected digital transformation services, national scale, for corporate clients and SMBs: Medium-sized agencies with 50 to 250 employees, best-case the headquarter of the agency is located close to the headquarter of your business because these sorts of projects are people business. Digital transformation sparring partners, national or international scale, for corporate clients and SMBs: Digital transformation boutiques like Quovabiz, with experienced founders who advise you personally, usually create the best value.
  2. Artificial Intelligence. AI will fundamentally transform how companies will operate in the future. End-to-End customer experience. End-to-End CX is anything but new. But, unfortunately, many companies still don’t do it right.
  3. If you don’t act today, you’ll be extinct tomorrow. At least most of the time, change happens relatively slowly. Running a successful business is not a sprint but a marathon. We don’t need any external support when it comes to digital transformation. However, the way you prepare your business today for the digital transformation will decide if your company will still be successful in three, five, or ten years. Thus, you should integrate the best people you can get. Usually, not all of them will be on your payroll.
  4. Don’t be scared about the future and the change ahead. Instead, watch out for the plenty of opportunities that digital transformation provides to outperform current and future competitors and dominate your market.

5. Shelly Kramer (Founding Partner at Futurum Research)

  1. This is a very odd question – there is no one company that “delivers the best” DX services – the thought that there might be is really kind of absurd.
  2. The journey to cloud is inevitable, and embracing moving operations to the cloud sooner rather than later is important, as is understanding that hybrid cloud and multi cloud is quickly becoming the norm. In addition, customer data platforms (CDPs) are becoming an integral part of business operations and customer experience, and exploring options that exist in the market sooner rather than later will be a key component of business transformation and DX success.
  3. A primary myth about digital transformation is that it is something that can be completed. DX is a journey that, once started, never ends. It’s about the integration of technology into business processes and operations, creating a culture around the power of data and innovation, along with embracing change and continuous learning. Technology will continue to evolve and change at a rapid pace in the coming years, and businesses (and humans) will need to understand that, and realize that change is a given and DX journeys will be ongoing as a result.
  4. Successful digital transformation journeys need to be based on a solid strategy and one that begins at the boardroom and emanates through the organization — not just something that resides and/or is driven by IT.

6. Vitali Likhadzed (CEO at ITRex)

  1. Perhaps I would not be original here, but my money’s on Accenture to win this race. For one thing, the company is familiar with all the technologies that lie at the heart of digital transformation 2.0 — i.e., data science and analytics, intelligent automation, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. And for another, Accenture is willing to share their insights with clients and competitors alike, promoting further digitalization of workflows and processes in enterprises and bringing us all closer to a smart, interconnected future.
  2. Here at ITRex, we’ve noticed a shift towards the integration of previously siloed technology and information systems, which are now evolving into end-to-end data ecosystems providing access to critical information — exactly when, where, and how a company’s employees need it. Coupled with AI algorithms, such ecosystems help pinpoint inefficiencies, reduce bottlenecks, and optimize operational expenses. Another digital transformation concept that’s been trending up is intelligent automation. Here I’m talking about IT systems that build on traditional business and robotic process automation solutions and, with the help of artificial intelligence, help tackle unstructured data, which comprises up to 80% of all information accumulated by a modern enterprise.In fact, data ecosystems and intelligent automation solutions walk hand in hand, assisting companies in processing large volumes of data and acting on it while freeing up employees’ time for strategic work.
  3. What most companies get wrong about digital transformation is that it is by no means a destination; instead, a company’s C-Suite should treat digitalization as a process that requires dedication and hard work — and seldom yields immediate results. That’s why the wise approach to digital transformation would be starting small, giving a digital overhaul to a single application or process, testing the new solution on real-world tasks, gathering feedback from a company’s stakeholders, and scaling the system to new use cases.
  4. Think big, start small, and iterate to innovate!

7. Hans Vander Elst (ServiceNow Practice Leader)

  1. Advanced Service Provider – I work here 🙂
  2. Employee experience : Happy employee = happy customer. Mobile. True Mobile. Easy but value.
  3. because no paper is involved = digital …. It needs to be clear and simple. Replacing paper complexity with digital complexity is not the answer.
  4. Keep what is good. Do it gradually. Communicate. Lead by example.

How Can We Leverage Digital Transformation Trends to Catapult Our Company Ahead of Competitors?

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By now, you should have a strong idea of the importance of digital transformation trends. In our modern post-COVID age, incorporating digital technology into your business is more important now than ever.

By implementing these trends, you can drastically improve the processes, efficiency, revenues, and profits at your company. And best to do that before your competitors do!

To learn more, check out our digital transformation service offerings.