It's that time of the year again. The festive period is fast approaching and 2023 is just around the corner.
In early 2022, we had a surge of the Omicron variant of Covid19, then the beginning of a terrible war in Ukraine, grim climate warnings, surging energy prices, the battle to control inflation, investment slowdowns, shrinking workforces and many notable tech layoffs. It's safe to say that 2022 will be remembered as a year plagued by instability, uncertainty and a real wake-up call for the world.
Nevertheless, the world of digital transformation and automation continues to move forward, despite the economic recession, allowing companies, users and customers to develop solutions that compensate for the difficulties presented in 2022. In this blog, we will examine the digital transformation and automation landscape in 2022 and what we might see in 2023 and beyond.
Continued growth of digital transformation
Recent research published by Harvard Business Review discovered that just shy of three-quarters of the existing companies of today are investing in digital transformation initiatives. This move toward digital solutions is often referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”—a rapid technological change as to how we work, live and interact due to the increasing interconnectivities and smart automations.
Hence, companies—big and small—have their sights set on achieving digital transformation, which is the process of integrating digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how the business operates and delivers value to customers. This can involve the adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the development of new digital products and services, and the use of digital tools to improve internal processes and operations.
However, this drive to change and accelerate capabilities can cause its own problems. In many instances, these digital transformation objectives are falling well below initial targets however the digital transformation market continues to soar. Meticulous Research predicts that the global digital transformation market will increase at a CAGR of 22.7% from 2019 to 2025 to reach $3.2 trillion by 2025. An additional study, this one by Ricoh Europe, determined workplace digitalization may increase the EU and UK GDP by 3.4% over the next five years, equivalent to $656 billion in growth alone.
The drive toward digital transformation is driven by the need for businesses to stay competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace. As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations evolve, companies must adapt and modernize in order to keep up. This can involve everything from the adoption of new technologies to the development of new business models.
However, the pursuit of digital transformation can also create challenges for businesses. For example, companies may struggle to integrate new technologies and processes into their existing operations, or they may face resistance from employees who are uncomfortable with change. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological change can make it difficult for businesses to keep up, and there is always the risk of failure when implementing new digital initiatives.
In order to alleviate concerns, companies will be required to find a balancing act. Thankfully, there are solutions that enable scalable and integrated automation with employee buy in. Low-code automation can assist in the reskilling of employees allowing for a culture of citizen developers to flourish. Tech Target defines ‘citizen development’’ as the following:
Citizen development is a business process that encourages non-IT-trained employees to become software developers, using IT-sanctioned low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms to create business applications. This approach to software development enables employees—despite their lack of formal education in coding—to become citizen developers. They create and customize existing software programs to suit a user's specific needs and improve operational efficiency within a company.
The era of hyperautomation
Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, digital transformation remains at the forefront of business decision-makers’ strategic goals. In order to achieve digital transformation objectives, businesses will need to embrace new technologies and approaches. Hyperautomation is a new wave of automation, which has grown over 2022 and into 2023. Hyperautomation is essentially built on top of existing automation augmenting and enhancing with AI/ML and orchestrating multiple devices or technologies seamlessly.
Gartner defines hyperautomation as the following:
‘Hyperautomation is a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Hyperautomation involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms, including: artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM) and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), integration platform as a service (iPaaS), low-code/no-code tools, packaged software, and other types of decision, process and task automation tools’.
Enterprise low- and no-code adoption
Whilst low- and no-code solutions and platforms are nothing new, a greater level of adoption is likely to take place in 2023. Gartner defines low-code as the following, “Low-code application platforms (LCAPs) provide abstracted, guided development, automation and governance capabilities enabling professional and citizen developers to rapidly develop digital solutions.” In essence, a graphical user interface that allows users to drag and drop elements with the ability to customize code snippets in order to develop applications and workflows rapidly.
Gartner also predicts that 70% of the new applications developed by 2025 will need and use low-code platforms. There are many reasons for this. In 2019, Research and Markets predicted the continued growth of the low code market to reach $187.0 billion in revenue by 2030, with a predicted CARG of 31.1%. This strong sectoral growth is allowing companies to embark on more ambitious projects with lower expenditure across the board.
Continued demand for top developer talent, skills and gaps
For most businesses, attracting and keeping tech talent is challenging. Due to a lack of technical skills, there has been a crisis emerging coinciding with soaring pay inflation, skill mismatches, and project failures. According to research by the international management consulting firm Korn Ferry, businesses could lose up to $8.5 trillion in sales by 2030 as a result of a skills shortage. According to the Korn Ferry report's analysis of the talent gap, more than 85 million jobs could go vacant by 2030 due to a lack of qualified candidates.
Empowering subject matter experts (SMEs)
In our opinion, we will see a marked shift going into 2023 in the way SMEs and business domain experts will approach traditionally complex problems.
In 2022, McKinsey found that digital transformation top achievers took an approach that focused on hiring and retaining tech-savvy executives as opposed to just getting new tech talent in the door. This focus on tech-savvy executives lends itself to empowering your organization's domain experts with tools that allow them to initiate change.
The reason SMEs are in a job is that they are the experts in a given field. Their insight, knowledge and experience provide a macro-to-micro perspective that is often acknowledged but falls short in the implementation period.
The implementation and execution for SMEs is a battle for resources, who and what project gets priority. This truncated priority resource scheduling process can take many months and, as a consequence, momentum and energy for a given project can wane. A scenario where the SME has to beg, borrow and steal IT and developer resources and time from conflicting depts and teams is not ideal.
So why not empower your experts, let them develop the solution, test and put it into production?
How to adopt a low-code automation strategy in your organization
In essence, it's pretty easy. Just jump in, try it out and see how it goes! In some cases, it is that easy. Many companies and platform providers offer free trials or sandbox environments where users can start building in no time.
However, in order to get the most out of a new platform, it's always good to start with the basics. Check out a few tutorial videos, read the associated technical documentation and feel free to reach out to the platform provider for help and guidance.
Remember that every user has different requirements and use cases, begin with the basics, to start with limiting the project scope, take an everyday example that you are comfortable with and try replicating the work/logic flow. By doing this, you are getting up to speed with the functionality and fundamentals of a new platform. Once you have this down to a tee, start adding more complex additions to your use case. A great aspect of low code is the de-risking of a project, experimenting won't break the bank or eat up your time!
In summary, 2022 has had its challenges for companies big and small. For most, 2023 will bring additional uncertainty as new approaches are adopted. An issue with digital transformation, which is a necessity for moving forward toward, is that it’s intrinsically linked with complexity and automation is not a turnkey solution.
Other factors need to be taken into account. The predicted trends as discussed above can provide organizations with the tools needed to mitigate disruption whilst enhancing capabilities and delivering automation.
At the end of the day, people power organizations. It's not all about automating everything. Embracing and providing a framework that allows for a convergence of the human, advanced hyperautomation, low-code and the encouragement of citizen development will empower change, ignite innovation and accelerate growth for tomorrow.
About the author
Callum Donnelly is Director of Marketing at Waylay. Previously, Callum founded ParrotScribe, a voice recognition compliance startup. In addition, Callum was part of the founding team of the Ludgate Hub and co-founder of National Digital Week.