As companies gear up for 2017, digital business opportunities abound for forward thinking leaders. For Sales Growth, Efficiency, and Security (+speed) - the digital landscape holds a number of strong opportunities in the year ahead. Understanding the possibilities, and how they add value to the broader business, is key to any digital transformation.
For Growth - Sales Engagement Platforms
The number one thing that drives corporate growth is sales. And the growing number of sales engagement platforms in 2016 was not by accident. The recent Aragon Research report on Sales Engagement Platforms has pegged the market today at $780m, and expected to grow to $5b by 2021. Often times sales engagement (or enablement depending on the marketing twist) – is focused on helping business leaders best identify the ‘hot leads’ and strong sales candidates that can help move a quarter or make a business year.
Why should CxO’s and IT leaders care? The need for better sales techniques and technologies has reached an all-time high as companies have realized static growth through traditional sales processes and solutions. Many of the leading platforms in this area are ‘born on the cloud’ – and integrating with the leading CRM and contracts management platforms. Breaking the mold and finding new ways to identify, connect and engage customers will be key in 2017 for growth minded companies.
This year, solving what your sales engagement platform play will be key to many companies’ growth success.
For Efficiency - Cognitive computing (and the variations of artificial intelligence)
The proverbial genie is out of the bottle with artificial intelligence, and 2016 witnessed a number of tech vendor commitments (and some deliveries) of A.I. for sake of business. The commercial leader, IBM, has brought to market strongly the IBM Watson platform, enabling dozens of industries and thousands of companies in the quest for great efficiency. Salesforce, always a tech leader, will also be introducing Einstein into their platform in 2017. And Microsoft is quick to follow with Cortana and other predictive analytics capabilities.
Key questions to answer on artificial intelligence: In the mash up of buzz words and hype around the capabilities, does your business (and IT group) know the difference between machine learning and cognitive computing? More important, do you know which is right for your business now, and in the future? The efficiency gains (and in some cases, workforce transition or replacement) from the use will be long running. Building a strategy today that embraces the possibilities, with a long term view will be crucial to maximize the efficiency gains possible for your business.
For Security (and speed) – Blockchain
How will blockchain make the world different in 2017? In short, Blockchain helps drive security (and speed) by improving the real time authentication of transactions and removing the ‘middle man’ in the clearing and authentication process. By making the transactions ‘completely trustworthy’, the authentication time and processes can be changed from hours and days (think transferring funds across a banking network or between countries), to microseconds.
Two illustrative scenarios that are impacted by blockchain (and more to come):
First, in Financial Services. The availability of funds, and real time acquisition time possible with the blockchain authentication process, changes the underlying business model for the financial services market itself. The fees, processes, timing involved, and infrastructure of over 100 years is challenged with the adoption of block chain. How does a bank or institution charge for microsecond processing in the future state? More important, how does that impact the flow of capital between individuals and businesses worldwide.
Second, Verification of financial reports and records in the accounting industry. Today millions of auditors and tax processors around the world conduct regular analysis, reporting and auditing processes, mostly still in a quarterly or annual cycle with complex platforms and processes. When the need for ‘trusting the books’ is automatically performed with blockchain capabilities, how does that impact the accounting industry? In short, it can drastically shift the value proposition (and need) for financial review and reporting. And it forces a digital rethink of the industry itself and the value it will provide to companies ahead.
As companies consider security and speed opportunities in 2017 – consider how your company might adopt block chain to transform your business. If authentication, authorization, and speed are priorities for your company, block chain will provide a competitive advantage which you can take up.