Information Technology

If the future is today, what will be tomorrow?

By Keshav Murugesh, CEO, WNS
Information Technology
Published: 20 September 2017

At Halloween the question is “Trick or Treat?” In today’s business landscape, we grapple with disruption. “Threat or Opportunity?” – this is the question that is being asked. Based on how you look at it, the next steps unfold.

The shape of the new ecosystem
Viewing it as an opportunity opens the pages to an exciting future. The events of just the past year seem to corroborate this choice. Driven by store experience, brick-and-mortar stores re-imagined themselves for the digital consumer. Spurred by new technologies, smart meters transformed the passive energy and utilities industry into an ‘internet-of-everything’ candidate. Telemedicine, wearables and connected devices made health and well-being an exciting topic. Industry 4.0 came alive with transformative algorithms and smart machines in manufacturing.

The reverberations of disruption echo in Standard and Poor’s (S&P) index. On an average, a company is being replaced every two weeks in the S&P index. By 2027, it is estimated that 75 percent of the S&P 500 firms will be replaced by new firms.

The connectedness of everything
With sensors and implantables, the Internet of Everything (IOE) is poised to re-invent industries at three levels – business process, business model and business moment.

Be it in transport manufacturing, energy, sport, farming, medicine, homes and cities – IOE will generate real-time data to make significant changes to productivity and lifestyles. Apple’s Home Kit, and AT&T’s connected cars represent this trend.

With connectedness comes more advanced data analytics to enable extreme personalization of services to consumers. Brands will go out of the way to tailor products to individuals. Today, Nike customizes sneakers and Tesla allows customers to build and personalize every detail of their new automobile from scratch.

Artificial intelligence that makes automation natural
Guess who knows best how you like your coffee? Or how cool you like your home be kept? Your digital assistant, of course!

From driverless cars to robot-served banks, automation through AI will disrupt all industries. Social robots will become coworkers and robo-advisors will take over as financial advisors. A recent study by Citigroup estimates that automated banking could replace 30 percent of bank jobs over the next decade.

Machines and systems will become smarter and highly cognitive through sophisticated algorithms and artificial neural networks. As machines teach machines, data-driven statistical models and feedback loops will generate algorithms for more efficient automation,

Move over apps, web interfaces and contact centers, here come the chatbots. AI-fuelled machine learning will boost chatbot performance to be the face of a company’s digital brand.

Virtual or augmented, it is reality
Imagine reaching for a VR headset and being in a face-to-face meeting with your team from all across the globe. Virtual reality has moved from the entertainment and gaming sectors to redefine marketing and customer experiences across education, healthcare, travel and real estate industries.

In just a year, VR has moved to augmented reality (3D holograms from Microsoft HoloLens is an example). We will now see it sprint to mixed reality (MR).

Identity goes digital now
Very soon we will have our personal information biometrically stored – credit cards, ID cards, driver licenses and retail loyalty information, to name a few. The day of the biometric payment is just round the corner too.

Blockchain technology will play a big role in digital identity innovations. It is all set to expand beyond the payments domain and government digital initiatives to the music and fashion industries.

Drones will don a business suit
Drones have made a commercially viable transition to business, and the coming years will see a dramatic increase in their deployment. Delivery systems, safety inspections in the airline and oil drilling sectors, media and news coverage, store and warehouse inventory, environmental studies…the list will expand.

Making disruption a collaborative partner
IT solution and service companies will need to move away from being mere providers to stand by their customers as partners. They need to adopt engagement models that are investment-, risk- and gain-sharing, and focused on outcomes.

They must create industry offerings and niche solutions leveraging the interplay of domain expertise, design thinking, process excellence, technology and advanced analytics. Greater adoption of digital-enablement through social, mobility, analytics, cloud and robotics will become imperative – as will bolstering investments in proprietary tools and platforms. Above all, it will require developing future-ready talent through effective new talent acquisition and re-skilling of existing talent.

Cohesive collaboration will be the name of the game – both between individual business functions and external stakeholders. For the choice is simple – disrupt or be disrupted.