Beyond digital: How companies and people connect and work in 2018?

In 2017, the success for any company was largely dependent on how well it adopted digital technology. While most businesses recognise the need, few knew what was required to get the initiative started and make it a reality. For this reason, organisations must move beyond the digital transformation buzzword and explore “transformational experiences” reimagining how companies and people connect and work in 2018.

Going digital is not achievable overnight. It is often a gradual change — one which becomes easier once the first step is in place. In almost every industry, technology will be disrupted in ways one has never seen before. Technologies like blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud will be the game changers for 2018. These disparate technologies will integrate to create practical business solutions.

2017 was a banner year for AI and IoT; there was a massive boost in the number of connected devices which is likely to grow even more in 2018. Also, various facets of AI such as machine learning and robotic process automation are expected to evolve in 2018. AI will help organisations achieve higher customer satisfaction levels — with chatbots likely to emerge as the key differentiating factor for enterprises to keep the crucial connect with their customers and remain engaged. With the innovations of today providing just a glimpse into future advancements, the robotics industry will rise in 2018 — especially with increased adoption in military and health care.

With all the above technologies taking centrestage, blockchain-enabled solutions have the potential to bridge the gaps of device data interoperability while ensuring security, privacy and reliability. This is mainly due to blockchain’s ability to reengineer transparency, trust and security in the wake of recent cyber attacks, an increased adoption of the technology has been noted in Indian BFSI and many other sectors.

Adding to this, the rise of 3D printing is likely to lead to re-invention of many old products, as well as the introduction of extraordinary innovations. I believe 3D printing is on track to move beyond an emerging technology into a truly transformative one.

Taking a look at the overall printing industry and business, despite the slowdown globally, India’s printing industry promises to grow significantly. The digital printing industry especially is seeing significant transformation with new technologies and innovative applications providing cost-effective and customised solutions. In 2018, with mobile printing, cloud, advanced security features etc. becoming more popular, we will see more such application development gaining importance. Such apps will allow users to control MFPs (multi-function printers) remotely and transmit documents to fax, email and cloud-hosted services like Google Drive and Dropbox.

Also, considering that the SMB market in India is given prime focus and is the backbone of our economy, office printing segment has immense scope. We believe there will be an increased demand for MFPs as companies look for innovative solutions to simplify business processes. Also, we must acknowledge the government’s digital initiatives and other reforms like the goods and services tax. It is surely a game changer for our economy which aims to bring us at par with developed nations.

Over the next 12 months, it is extremely important for an organisation to challenge traditional thinking and look in unexpected places for hidden opportunities to streamline and add momentum to their business. We are so much beyond the hype but there are still a large number of things that have to be realised.

Businesses must move ahead with true spirit, commitment, passion and be re-energised for the new way forward. They must focus on using IoT to digitise imperative assets and processes which will not only help grow their business but also increase operational efficiency, and deliver exceptional experiences to customers.

Businesses must continue to invest in new business solutions and applications that help improve productivity and simplify the work process as well as continue to create meaningful innovations and provide business process services, printing equipment, software and solutions that make a real difference for their clientele.

Director, global document outsourcing, Xerox India

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