Digital transformation is certainly not a new concept. In recent years we have seen business technology go through a breathtakingly rapid evolution, from blockchain, chatbots and the Internet of Things (IoT) to virtual reality and machine learning. These will continue to have a huge impact on the world of work for us all, so what is coming next in terms of this business buzzword?

A recent survey of IT industry leaders around the world suggested that only 8 per cent consider their organisations digitally transformed and almost 25 per cent are still in the very early stages of the journey. They all agree on one thing, however – businesses will have to change to survive and truly embrace new technologies. The generally slow pace of uptake will mean that 2018 will be a year of continuing digital transformation, with businesses beginning to understand the innovative ways they could look to revolutionise their operations by executing this essential technology shift.

1. Blockchain is a game-changer

Blockchain has come a long way from its original purpose behind the scenes of bitcoin. It has had a significant impact on financial services in recent years and is set to transform just about every area of our lives, from business operations to space travel and even the way we vote.

In simple terms, it acts as a shared transactional database and exists across a global network. It does not have a centralised control or recording system; instead, every participant has a record of every single transaction. 2018 will see blockchain become far more accessible for both businesses and consumers and enable applications such as smart contracts, better cloud storage, peer-to-peer insurance, and transformed digital payment systems.

Blockchain offers fast processing speeds, exceptional security, increased transparency, and fraud protection. This will be incredibly valuable for many industries, including healthcare, manufacturing and insurance services. As the offices of the future will see the continued growth of IoT, blockchain will also be invaluable in providing a solution for network security concerns and continuous connectivity.

2. Digital strategy will transform businesses

As technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and big data infrastructures become more mature, businesses will be forced to create new partnerships and ways of working that will transform both the customer experience and jobs at all levels. As organisations fight for survival in an ever-more competitive environment, with many appealing and innovative startups undercutting prices for traditional services, they must embrace a ‘digital-first’ mindset and a crystal clear digital strategy.

This must be a good thing. Companies will gain the flexibility needed to grow and thrive, while consumers will reap the benefits of increased choice and better value. A recent survey by Gartner reveals that 56 per cent of decision-makers link digital improvements and a digital-first attitude to an increase in profits.

3. Data-driven strategy is key

This approach has a great deal of untapped potential, with over two-thirds of businesses not yet using quantifiable, data-driven approaches to identify new markets, optimise supply chain and distribution methods, or enable multichannel experiences for their customers. High-quality data is the key factor in the digital transformation journey and can mean the difference between success and failure.

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