Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Digital Transformation: A CXO's Guide

Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark survey found that 97% of IT decision makers are involved in digital transformation initiatives at their respective organizations. The research identifies the most important digital transformation trends for 2020 and beyond, exploring the impact and benefits.

Digital transformation: Why companies need a sense of urgency TechRepublic's Karen Roby talks with futurist Brian Solis about the trends shaping digital transformation.

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Digital Transformation: A CXO's Guide

Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right.

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All digital business transformations must begin and end with improving the stakeholder experience in mind. Company stakeholders are employees, customers, partners, and the communities that we serve. Nearly every CIO is actively involved in digital transformation projects, according to MuleSoft's Connectivity Benchmark survey.  

Ninety-seven percent of IT decision-makers are tasked with using a combination of new technologies to modernize legacy processes and to identify and implement new business model innovation opportunities. How do these IT leaders scope transformational projects? What are business drivers behind their investment thesis? What are the near-term and long-term business benefits of digital transformation? The research outlines the most timely trends for 2020 and explores their business impact.  

The 7 trends experts forecast for 2020 was developed using data from over 850 global IT leaders, 9,000 consumers, and third-party findings. The research identifies case studies of each trend highlighting how CIOs of leading global companies are starting -- or already driving -- these trends.

Here is a summary of the top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020:

Connecting the consumer experience

Organizations need to solve for increasing pressure on IT to open up bandwidth for delivering connected, personalized experiences for their consumers-from customers to partners to employees to developers.

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    Consumer experience is at the core digital transformation initiatives 

    MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

The average number of applications used in each organization is 900, making it very difficult for companies to provide a connected experience. Meanwhile, consumers expect consistent journeys across multiple channels including messaging services and mobile service portals. Omni-channel customers spend 10% more online than single-channel customers. A connected experience means removing friction in the customer journey, and being accessible anywhere, anytime. Customers are also expecting highly personalized experiences. Seventy-four percent of consumers think companies should understand their expectations and needs. 

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As complexity increases, it's becoming more difficult to provide connected experiences

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

Data-driven business

Unlocking and analyzing data is at the heart of digital transformation. Businesses are putting their data to work to improve customer experiences, streamline operations, and quickly launch new products and services. 

Eighty-three percent of IT decision-makers report data silos create business challenges in their organization. The research shows that breaking down data silos is positively correlated with a company's performance. Sixty-eight percent of best-run companies reported on working to eliminate data silos and share insights. 

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Unlocking and analyzing data is central to the business 

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

Companies are putting data to work to improve customer service, streamline operations and innovate at speed. Removing friction and movement of resources is directly influenced by how companies can leverage data to develop their anticipatory muscles. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Organizations are increasingly investing in AI capabilities to expedite and personalize customer service, reduce human bias, and increase productivity. They are learning that the value of AI and machine learning tools are dependent upon the data they are fed.

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Businesses are investing more each year in artificial intelligence

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

The research anticipates a 95% growth projection in the adoption of AI. AI is proven to be a powerful tool for personalizing customer experiences, reducing human bias, and automating tasks. 

Machine Learning (ML), basic task automation and virtual agents/chatbots are the most common use cases of AI. Twenty-five percent of customer service operations will be using virtual customer assistants by 2020. 

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Chatbots are emerging as the standard for customer service

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

The research also highlights the use of surgical robots, warehouse pick-and-place robots, and drone use cases. In financial services, AI uses cases for fraud detection, investing services, and loan approval automated processes that were identified with specific company implementation models. In retail, AI is used for personalized offers and promotions. Fifty-three percent of consumers are willing to allow retailers to track their shopping behavior with and outside stores if it means they can receive personalized offers and promotions. Healthcare institutions use machine learning to enhance disease detection. 

To maximize the value of AI and machine learning, the research suggests that companies begin with data governance. Start by asking these five questions: 

  1. What are your 5 most valuable data sets? 
  2. How does value get created? 
  3. Do you have APIs?
  4. How is your data quality? 
  5. Who can contribute data and how is it tracked? 

Multi-cloud computing

Most enterprises today run on multi-cloud environments, but managing multiple clouds is complicated, specifically when it comes to moving application workloads between cloud environments. API-led application development and containerization are two potential solutions to this problem.

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The majority of large enterprises use multiple clouds

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

Eighty-four percent of enterprises with 1000+ employees have a multi-cloud strategy. The biggest challenges with a multi-cloud strategy are complexity, managing apps, and managing costs. Enterprises struggle to move applications workloads between clouds. The research suggests that APIs help unlock the data and unique functionalities of applications residing in multiple cloud environments. The research also estimates 165% growth in the next 18 months for companies that run their environment using containerized applications. A container is a standard unit of software that packages up code and all its dependencies so the application runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another.

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How to design applications to move between clouds with APIs 

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

Partnering with IT to turbocharge the business

To maximize the full potential of technology, organizations are positioning IT as a core enabler to the business.

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IT efficiency is crucial to the success of digital transformation initiatives

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

There is increasing pressure on IT to deliver more, faster. Every company must operate as a technology company, leveraging a combination of new and emerging technologies to improve the stakeholder experience. This means IT must be agile, fast, and innovative. 

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When every company is a technology company, IT must move faster and be adaptive 

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

As organizations invest more in distributed and emerging technologies, here are the top technology investments in 2019: 

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T

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

Nearly all (92%) of businesses report integration needs to span beyond IT. Research shows that IT can no longer keep up with the demands of the business. Thirty-six percent of IT decision-makers can complete all projects requested of them in 2019. Nearly 7 out of 10 IT departments are simply keeping the lights on. 

Co-creating value with external stakeholders

The best businesses are creating a network effect by building collaborative ecosystems of partners, customers, and external stakeholders. The research suggests that digital ecosystems are on the rise and that companies can seamlessly incorporate new products and services into their customer experiences. Examples of co-creation of value were highlighted with open source, platformification, and data aggregation with specific use cases from Apple, Mastercard, and Plaid. The key takeaway is that open APIs help businesses co-create value with external stakeholders. 

Fueling business performance with APIs

Businesses leveraging APIs are experiencing increased productivity, revenue growth, and room for innovation -- but they must be productized and easily reusable to deliver full value. Ninety-one percent of organizations that own public and/or private APIs are experiencing significant business outcomes as a result. APIs enable organizations to innovate faster and smarter. 

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APIs enable organizations to innovate faster and smarter 

MuleSoft Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping 2020

The research reminds us that the more sophisticated the API strategy, the greater the business outcome. Some companies have increased speed by two-times by reusing APIs. Several customer use cases were highlighted that illustrated significant improvements in IT delivery speed, faster product launches, and an increase in sales based solely on API management and optimization techniques. 

The Top 7 digital transformation trends shaping  2020 report by MuleSoft (a Salesforce company) is quite comprehensive, with numerous customer use cases and technology adoption forecasts for 2020 and beyond. The findings in this report strongly suggests that in order to deliver a connected customer experience, companies must focus on cultivating a data-driven culture and use game-changing and disruptive technologies like machine learning and AI, in multi-cloud environments, to accelerate and amplify co-creation of value within their ecosystems by strongly partnering with IT to better leverage the awesome power of applications networks.