Once the setting for futuristic sci-fi films, the year 2020 is now just around the corner. As a new era approaches, IT leaders anticipate how technology will transform business as we know it.
Technology in business is often driven by customers. It's about understanding customers — their painpoints, their expectations — by addressing these needs, companies are able create deeper, 1:1 relationships with customers, thus building customer loyalty. Today customer loyalty is more complex than it used to be. On the one hand, customers have much higher expectations for their interactions with brands than ever before. Products connected to the Internet of Things have made it so that products can alert the service department when support is needed, before the customer even is aware that there's a problem. But for companies that are able to truly nail the customer experience, younger consumers are more brand loyal than any other generation.
All of this requires the IT department at the center, to power the right technology in business that will power a next-generation customer experience.
In the second annual “State of IT” report, over 2,200 IT leaders share their thoughts on how IT is changing.
What are the top three technologies they expect to transform business by 2020? [click to tweet]
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Customer-facing mobile tech
The reason is clear. Facing unprecedented demand for innovation from business units and customers alike, top IT teams are seeking core technologies like these for increased intelligence, speed, and agility.
Cloud Computing Is More Secure Than Ever
With today’s advanced security capabilities at the infrastructure, network, and application levels, cloud infrastructure is often more secure than on-premises apps. IT increasingly realizes this is the case. In fact, 83% of IT leaders say their IT organization feels more comfortable with its knowledge of cloud security than it did five years ago. Sixty-five percent plan on increasing data stored in the cloud over the next 12–18 months.
Further, 64% of IT leaders say cloud computing has been prioritized as the top technology by the lines of business they partner with. Forbes recently reported on a similar study anticipating that 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions within 15 months.
With a cloud platform, you can gain complete visibility into what your users are doing, easily encrypt data at rest to meet compliance requirements, and even set granular permissions and behavior-based intelligent policies to protect your data.
The Age of AI is Here
AI is now ingrained in everything we do. Any of this sound familiar?
You start your day by checking the weather on your Google Home. You get in your car and fire up the Waze app that predicts which route is best to avoid traffic. You shop on Amazon and receive product recommendations that predict your needs based on your past purchases. And then, at the end of the day, you come home and turn on Netflix, which suggests what to watch next.
More and more, AI is becoming a standard among customer expectations instead of just an added convenience, prompting IT leaders to make it a top priority over the next 12–18 months. Already, high-performing IT teams are 2.2x more likely than underperformers to see AI as a critical or high priority.
That’s because new use cases for AI are popping up all over the business. Already, sales teams anticipate 139% growth in AI that automatically recommends products to customers based on their preferences within 36 months.
It’s easy to see why sales perceives higher AI growth. But we can also understand why IT is less optimistic. Their perception and understanding of implementing AI is that they need a large pool of data scientists and engineers (which are scarce) to build AI and machine learning models. But with a platform like Salesforce, you have all those AI algorithms and predictive models built in, and you can add predictive features to your employee and customer apps with simple point-and-click tools.
Transforming Customer-Facing Tech through Mobile Is Critical
We live in a mobile-first world — which is why it’s rare these days that a customer’s first interaction with a company takes place outside of the web or mobile. In fact, 57% of business buyers and 50% of consumers are likely to switch from brands that don’t provide an easy-to-use mobile experience.
Our mobile phones have turned into a productivity tool. We run our business from our phones. And both consumers and employees have high expectations of their mobile experiences in terms of performance, user experience, and whether they can access real-time contextual data.
Can I see my hottest leads in real time?
Can I get a real-time notification and check the status of my product inventory?
Can I work on my docs and submit approvals without having to open my computer?
These aren’t just initial questions. They’re expectations. And IT is pressured to deliver on them faster than ever. While 81% of all IT organizations are leading the business in digital transformation (up from 75% in 2016), high-performing teams are 2.8x more likely than underperformers to say transforming customer-facing technology is a critical priority.
Increased expectations for customer-facing tech are here and IT is pressured to deliver on them faster than ever. But with a huge backlog to accomplish, it can seem nearly impossible. Low-code platforms like Salesforce make it easy for IT to offload the development of some of those mobile apps to business users who can use point-and-click tools to build beautiful, fully functional apps with minimal involvement, giving IT time to focus on higher complexity consumer-facing mobile apps to deliver engaging experiences.
The Pressure Is On
IT faces mounting pressure to deliver more powerful cloud computing, AI, and customer-facing tech. To deliver, it’s up to IT to prioritize resources and find ways to offload some of the burden. By shifting to a cloud-based, low-code platform, they can make their jobs easier while serving up more predictive and personalized experiences that meet these heightened expectations.
Get more tech insights and research like these by downloading Salesforce’s second annual “State of IT” report. Or, take a look at the “IT Change Agent’s Handbook” to see how IT teams are laying the groundwork for a more productive future.