As 2024 picks up steam, we’re seeing new trends rise to prominence in the world of digital transformation. From AI to intranet, EDI to chatbots, opportunities abound for companies to get better at what they do.
But what trends matter most? And where should you focus your transformation efforts this year?
Glad you asked! Here are the top 6 digital transformation trends that we expect to see in 2024.
1. Preparing for AI… and using it with strong cybersecurity controls in place
No doubt about it, AI is here to stay and will be revolutionizing the way organizations work in 2024.
From Microsoft Copilot to ChatGPT, companies have numerous options (and use cases) for integrating AI into existing processes—or using AI to create net-new processes that are more efficient.
But many organizations are not ready for AI. If critical business data lives in siloed systems, it may be difficult to leverage the power of AI—particularly if you’re looking at Microsoft Copilot, which integrates deeply with the entire Microsoft 365 suite.
While Copilot is incredibly intelligent, it’s only as useful as the data it has access to. You’ll get the most out of it if SharePoint, OneDrive, and your organization’s data are all optimized. Companies that want to leverage Copilot and AI should have these systems audited, develop a roadmap to prepare their data, and undertake any recommended optimizations before rolling out these technologies.
But that’s not the only consideration. There’s also the cybersecurity angle. Believe it or not, ChatGPT may pose a cybersecurity risk, depending on how your employees use it. Microsoft Copilot addresses these concerns with a strong organization-first policy on data privacy. Learn more here: Microsoft Copilot vs. ChatGPT.
For every organization, the mandate is clear: 1) You should absolutely leverage the power of AI, 2) Doing so may require some initial digital transformation effort to pave the way, and 3) you must consider cybersecurity. We expect all 3 of these factors to drive a significant uptick in AI-centered digital transformation in 2024. Ultimately, that means more companies engaging strategic AI consulting services to chart their path forward.
2. Streamlining communication culture (and modernizing intranets)
How do your employees communicate today? Where do they find essential files and documentation—and where do they collaborate? Can every employee easily find every file they need?
Here are some problems we commonly see when a client either doesn’t have an intranet solution or their existing intranet isn’t optimized.
- Files get shared multiple ways (for example, local copies attached to emails and cloud collaboration in SharePoint or Google Drive).
- There is no document organization strategy —or if there is, not everyone follows it when creating new files and folders.
- The company uses shared physical hard drives (and local files stored on them) for collaboration.
- The company has no single destination for instant messaging (for example, Microsoft Teams or Slack)—or these platforms are un-optimized and used inconsistently.
- The company uses an instant messaging solution like Slack as the system of record for all collaboration functions, including pinning links to files, rather than using clear folder hierarchies in SharePoint or Google Drive.
- The company has no project management software in place, or this software is used inconsistently across departments.
Creating a good intranet experience is an ever-evolving challenge, but it rewards companies who take it seriously. When it comes to information distribution and process optimization, this is low-hanging fruit. We expect it to become a significant factor in digital transformation in 2024 and to be the new foundation for the AI ready workplace.
3. Integrating systems and data (like EDI)
Many organizations have no idea how much they’re paying for inefficient processes. If any of the following describes your operations, you may have room to grow with data integration:
- Your team has to export CSV files from one internal system, then upload (or rekey them) into another internal system.
- Your team has to work from paper documents and enter that information into an internal system.
- Different systems provide different numbers for essential data, and your team doesn’t have one source of truth.
Whatever the scenario, data integration offers a powerful alternative to manual processes. The efficiency gains empower you to cut costs if necessary or redirect your team to more strategic activities.
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a great example of this. If your organization EDI to accept orders from customers, this is a great source of inefficiency that’s ripe for digital transformation.
For many companies, EDI orders don’t automatically populate to the systems where you need them. Someone has to rekey that EDI order into your back-end software. Or there’s an outdated integration that runs once every night—and creates all kinds of errors. Those errors require manual data entry and callbacks to customers to get proper SKU numbers, allowed quantities, and so on.
In other words, EDI processes can be a nightmare if they’re not optimized.
The good news is that EDI integration doesn’t have to be hard. The key is to find a partner who knows digital transformation inside and out—and who knows EDI too. In 2024, we expect to see an increasing number of companies realizing how much better their EDI processes can be.
4. Reclaiming work-hours with process automation
Do you have continuous processes that depend on repetitive human tasks?
Are you ready to reassign those employees to value-added activities—or downsize as needed?
Process automation is an essential component in the digital transformation journey. Any organization that relies on human labor to perform repetitive tasks should consider ways to automate those processes and reassign resources to higher value tasks.
Here are some common high-level processes that benefit from automation:
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
- Customer support
- Employee onboarding
Process automation has huge potential to drive efficiency across the organization and will be a significant driver in digital transformation projects in 2024.
But there’s an important point here. You don’t have to transform every process from top to bottom overnight. In fact, a gradual approach often produces better outcomes. Employees and customers have a chance to get used to incremental changes, rather than starting at square one after a total overhaul.
This approach also makes budgeting for digital transformation easier and more predictable. In 2024, we expect to see more high-level transformation projects affecting significant internal processes—but we also expect to see those projects carefully broken out into manageable chunks.
5. Leveraging chatbots for internal and external users
Some communication flows are so standardized, it doesn’t make sense to invest human brainpower in supporting them. These are great use cases for chatbots, which leverage automation to direct users from common queries to standardized responses, personalized responses, or documentation.
What does this look like in real life? Here are a few common examples.
- Marketing interaction. When a potential customer comes to your website, you can engage them with a chatbot to point them toward the right resources, fill out forms, and more.
- 24×7 customer support. Some customer support interactions require human ingenuity, while some of them are fairly routine. Chatbots can take on the routine burden so your customer service agents can focus on your most important clients, unique challenges, and value-added activities.
- Internal HR support. Internal HR portals offer tons of information, which can make them challenging for employees to navigate. Chatbots can point them in the right direction by offering quick links to common HR portal tasks, answering questions, and more.
- Intranet navigation. The larger the organization, the more files you may have—and the longer you’ve been in business, the more legacy files you have. Chatbots can help your employees find information quickly.
Keep in mind that Chatbots don’t have to always solve for the user’s entire journey, they can be extremely useful as an initial triage and directing users to the next step in their journey, not just to the end of it.
Chatbots aren’t “new” news, but many organizations have room for improvement in this area. Since chatbots easily tackle low-hanging fruit, we expect this type of transformation to play a significant role in 2024.6. Leveraging business data to make more intelligent decisions
If your business data lives in legacy systems, chances are, you’re struggling to tie it together. This makes it hard to spot big-picture trends, critical details, and the complex relationships between the many factors that drive your business outcomes.
In short, a lack of integrated business intelligence leaves you in the dark.
Digital transformation can tie together data from multiple systems, eliminating manual work and lead times for critical reports. This trend will only gain more momentum in 2024, as new competitive challenges and economic headwinds force organizations to get leaner, smarter, and more efficient.
But the news here is all good. With robust data right at their fingertips, your team can make essential decisions fast—so you keep your edge.
The takeaway: Don’t wait to start transforming
For companies that have stayed on the sidelines, there’s no better time to jump in with digital transformation. The gains are there, ready to be actualized and the barrier to entry is lower than it has ever been. The key is to choose the portion of your business that’s most in need—and easiest to address. A trusted advisor can help you identify these opportunities, prioritize them, and start transforming with digital technology.
Want to learn more about digital transformation?
Reach out to schedule a consultation with our security specialists.