Three trends that will matter for Canadian businesses in 2017: Avanade

Friday December 02, 2016
Written by Jeff Gilchrist, Avanade Canada
Dec. 2, 2016 - Digital innovation across applications and platforms is pushing organizations to relearn how they interact with their workforce, customers and partners. Jeff Gilchrist, general manager of Avanade Canada shares his top three predictions that will be key for Canadian organizations in 2017: augmented reality; design thinking; and digital ethics.

1. Beyond Pokémon: Augmented reality will be the new enterprise reality.
“In 2017, organizations should be experimenting widely with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies in order to be prepared for the future workforce. AR, VR and MR are rapidly moving from the gaming and consumer domain to the enterprise at a rapid rate, as leading companies embrace the technologies to improve collaboration, enable employees, and engage better with their customers. For example, AR allows an employee repairing or installing a new device or piece of equipment to receive highly visual step-by-step guidance virtually to complete the task, maximizing productivity and limiting risks. The AR experience made famous by Pokémon is now also poised to transform the way companies engage with customers. Gartner predicts that by 2020, nearly 100 million customers will shop in an AR setting and 71 per cent of shoppers expect to view in-store inventory online. This is why, in 2017, enterprises across Canada should start experimenting with AR, VR and MR technologies to understand how best to apply them within their organization.”

2. Design Thinking: The future of innovation is technology that augments the human experience.
“As customers and employees become increasingly digitally savvy, design thinking will become essential for organizations seeking to maintain a competitive advantage. Rather than starting with technology, a design-thinking approach visualizes the end experience first and then synthesizes people, processes and technologies together to achieve that vision. In 2017, we will see organizations leverage digital to drive fundamental shifts in user experiences. Typing and tapping will no longer be the de facto interactions. Instead, digital will enable more immersive experiences, covering gestures, haptics, voice, gaze and so on — seamless engagements between users and machines. As organizations embrace design thinking, the role of the digital humanist will gain prominence. Demonstrating empathy, creativity, collaboration and an agile approach, the digital humanist will advocate for ethical customer and employee expectations in digital innovation projects. This advocacy will span user experience and design, but also the ethics of new technology innovations. 2017 will be the year companies must re-learn their approach to innovation and embrace human-centred design principles — or risk losing their employees and customers to more relevant competitors.”

3. Digital Ethics: Just because you can do something with data, doesn’t mean you should.
“In 2017, organizations will pivot from a focus on data acquisition to data intelligence. Applied artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning rank #1 on Gartner’s list of Top 10 strategic predictions for 2017. At Avanade, we see clients are increasingly adopting an automation-first approach. However, an augmented workforce comprising humans, intelligent systems, and devices presents new ethical complexities for companies. A recent Avanade survey found a majority of C-level executives are grappling with ethical issues stemming from the use of smart technologies in the workplace. Companies face the same digital ethics dilemma with customer data. For example, insurers are now using telematics devices to track consumer driving habits. While this might be a good idea for rewarding safe drivers with a premium discount, are the consumers aware who owns the data being produced by the car? And how comfortable would consumers be having the insurers use the telematics device as a trigger to automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident? During 2017, it will become an imperative for organizations to educate employees about the ethical implications of digital technologies. Organizations should also mandate that ethics be part of a design thinking approach, and implement a framework to ensure that intelligent systems continue to augment and improve human actions and decisions — without risking the trust and expectations of customer and employees.”

Avanade is a provider of digital and Cloud services, business solutions and design-led experiences delivered through the power of people and the Microsoft ecosystem.

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