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2018 Technology Prediction: The Year of Digital Transformation Through Empathy

My prediction is that 2018 is the year of digital transformation through empathy.

Why empathy? Everything we do as human beings starts with people. But currently, technology efforts don’t often start here. Without incorporating the human element, the real “why” behind an effort can be missed. Missing the why can lead to the wrong outcome or no outcome at all.

With emerging digital technologies on the horizon such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and more, now is the time to incorporate empathy into technology efforts. Start by asking if you really know the people and the need for the technology effort. In this post, we’ll walk through how to get there.

2018 Tech Enabling Digital Transformation
First, we’ll highlight where we’re going by quickly recapping some of my favorite technology that is enabling the digital transformation.

  • IoT – We are moving swiftly to edge computing with all the devices on the IoT. Data generated never needs to travel to the cloud for consumption. The IoT will only grow from here.
  • AI – Though AI may seem like a distant reality; it’s today’s reality in consumer tools such as Alexa, Google Home, and Netflix. (AI’s driving Netflix movie recommendations!)
  • Blockchain – Still a mystery to some, blockchain is the secure transportation of bitcoin, records, deeds, contracts, and more through decentralized ledgers. Blockchain has actual power to disrupt digitally. (Learn more on the KSMC blog about blockchain for business and government).

With technology rapidly changing, the key is to build a digital transformation plan.

2018: The Year to Fail Fast and Digitally Transform
Technology ebbs and flows – advancements are made, and consumerism has changed the technology landscape.

For instance, 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that these devices are often used as part of their daily routine.

With these realities, 2018 is the year to have a digital transformation plan.

How do you achieve “a digital transformation plan?” It’s important to first understand the need for the technology undertaking. How do you take an abstract idea, make it concrete, and create something the market needs? It follows this tried and true advice:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.” – Lewis Carroll

My advice is to take the road that starts with empathy.

As an example, AI is about transitioning from our smartphones to voice-enabled technologies. Why stop there? Why do we need to use physical interfaces, such as a keyboard or glass, at all? What is the experience the client wants? Is voice simply easier?

To answer these questions, we must remind ourselves how humans interact and think. Attempting to fulfill needs when the person with the need doesn’t even understand it is difficult.

Start with Empathy…
Technology is not the place to begin to achieve organizational change. For many organizations, it’s a distraction from the desired result for the organization. Organizations that begin with empathy will find themselves on the path to success.

What is empathy? It is not mushy, gushy, let’s cry together. Empathy is understanding someone else’s perspective, problems, reality, and constraints (real and imagined) at a fundamental level. Empathy is incorporating the human element – the key starting place for digital transformation.

Using tools or a framework to guide the process is one way to incorporate empathy. For example, the Design Thinking framework gets to the “why” behind a digital initiative and leads to the right outcomes.

…Then Fail Fast
Design thinking starts with empathy and is an iterative process that encourages forward momentum focused on the needs of the end user. The methodology focuses on failing fast and failing often – all to achieve better outcomes.

Forbes talks about a new dimension of failing fast, iterating, and moving forward, which they deem Failure as a Service (FaaS).

Failure will soon be a service on the -aaS menu. The reason: failing fast is one of the most important elements of success in today’s quick-moving digital transformation environment. Failure-as-a-Service (FaaS) will provide visualization, rapid prototyping, and other fast-fail methods that will help companies strategize fast for greater success.” – Daniel Newman, Forbes Contributor (Source)

2018 will be all about failing fast in order to get to the right outcome. Successful organizations will embrace this.

Conclusion
As emerging technology moves into mainstream digital use, 2018 brings with it much excitement.

My prediction is that 2018 is the year of digital transformation through the application of empathy. Organizations should create their digital transformation plans first and foremost from a human perspective. Begin with empathy and use tools and frameworks like Design Thinking to guide your development process.

A human-centric approach will change technology end users and the companies that embrace it in a positive way as they grow, fail fast, and digitally transform.

Want to learn more about how to create a digital transformation plan that starts with empathy? Contact our team.


Michele Hovet is the Client and Partner Innovation Director for KSM Consulting. Michele serves as a thought leader and solution innovator. Connect with her on LinkedIn.