What comes after digital transformation? The self-driving business

What comes after digital transformation? The self-driving business
Apr 22

Bradley Kronson

You’ve digitally transformed your business – what now?

Digital transformation is no longer a buzzword that gets thrown around at every C-level meeting. Instead, CIOs are now using this term to explain how processes are being improved through digitisation, which features are being added for convenience and what new areas are being explored by the company.

We’ve been having the digital transformation conversation for about two decades now. And with spending on digital transformation initiatives expected to reach $1.78 trillion in 2022, it’s safe to say that the whole world has caught on.

But is a digitally transformed business the final destination of organisational development, or is there another frontier ahead? It looks like we might be at the dawn of the age of the self-driving business.

What is a self-driving enterprise?

A self-driving business is an organisation that uses cognitive technologies to enhance the capabilities of all workers and, in turn, the business. By cognitive technologies, we mean artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA), computer vision, natural language processing (NLP) and any other technology that can simulate brain-like processes.

In a self-driving business, some or all of these technologies are used to optimise things at an enterprise level. They are harnessed to analyse vast amounts of disconnected data from siloed ERP and CRM systems to sharpen decision-making. A self-driving business can make data-driven recommendations for investments, predict periods of high demand and shortages, accurately diagnose medical conditions, and effectively mimic a mind model that thinks, learns, analyses and acts all on its own.

Imagine how a self-driving car works, but instead of a vehicle, it’s an organisation which has a lot more moving parts and is far less likely to cause a pile-up.

That sounds like science fiction, right?

Based on that definition alone, it’s easy to imagine self-driving businesses as something straight out of a sci-fi movie and therefore not attainable today. But that’s not the case. A few companies are already either providing or utilising cognitive technologies.

Here are some examples:

Aera Technology. Aera calls itself “The Decision Intelligence” company and is one of the first technology providers to offer enterprise-level applications of cognitive technology. It claims to be able to “understand how your business works, make real-time recommendations, predict outcomes, and take action autonomously.”

IBM. IBM has made self-driving enterprises (or Cognitive Enterprises, as it prefers) one of its core focuses. It helps other organisations build, maintain and optimise intelligent workflows that add a robust cognitive layer to processes. It has had successful self-driving projects with companies such as Chemionics, Lufthansa and Apple.

New paradigm or passing trend?

You can’t deny that there are massive benefits to rapid data analysis across several systems and real-time recommendations based on insights no one else has. Cognitive technology gives organisations the power to know their customers better than ever, improve digital solutions, anticipate market shifts and stay competitive and agile. These are all advantages that any modern business could use, so it’s not hard to imagine self-driving businesses becoming more than just a buzzword as barriers to entry lower.

Remember, it took 20 years for digital transformation to become non-negotiable.

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