Digital Business Market Agenda for 2023: Effectiveness and Engagement
With Ventana Research’s 2023 Market Agenda, we continue the guidance we’ve offered for two decades to help organizations derive maximum value from digital business technology investments. Through our market research and expertise, we identify trends and best practices and share insights on how to achieve technological effectiveness, particularly in key processes and systems to engage the workforce.
Digital business helps organizations ensure technology investments are effective, supporting the resilience required for ongoing, successful operations. Achieving a level of refinement to ensure business continuity requires a digital strategy that can sustain any market disruption. Digital transformation intended to provide guidance on the effectiveness of systems operating across private and public computing environments has not been easy. For many, it has created more complexity. The decades-long effort to continuously introduce technology has had success, but also failed to provide the simplicity that ensures business continuity.
In 2022, the expectations for “virtual business” was challenged as the technology in use has not delivered workforce satisfaction and retention, and some organizations find this approach – that is valued by workers – too complicated. Operating through “black swan” events - like the pandemic, and now the economics of inflation - continue to challenge organizations’ ability to adapt and sustain through these abnormal conditions and duress. While the effects of a recession have organizations in many industries performing a reduction in force, the difficulty in finding talent continues to be an operational challenge. The virtual workplace and workforce requires digital communications and readiness to respond and engage when required, and should be at the center of an organization’s digital strategy.
For 2023, having an effective, digital business strategy will require investment to address the need for continuous improvement. Based on our research, I assert that through 2025, after concerted investment in digital transformation, two-thirds of organizations will require a new digital business and technology agenda for effectiveness. Organizations now realize that digital effectiveness is more essential than transformational efforts that have not yielded expected benefits or engaged the workforce to achieve required outcomes.
Our Digital Business expertise includes nine areas of focus: Business Continuity, Digital Communications, Digital Payments, Digital Security, Experience Management, Governance and Risk, Performance Management, Work Management and Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance.
Business continuity and resilience in the use of technology help define a strategy to successfully weather any market disruption. Organizations must control strategic outcomes, ensuring continuous reliability with technology to ensure ongoing operations across every line of business - not just the IT operation. This has created challenges to the extent that, by 2025 and after decades of digital transformation efforts, two-thirds of organizations will not establish an investment priority for business continuity efforts that reduce operational risk in black swan events.
For 2023, we will explore the processes and systems organizations use to ensure the resilience of business strategies, including the portfolio of applications and technology in use and the fundamentals for evaluating existing and future investments. Our market research will identify best practices and assess and rate vendors’ potential to help ensure the right technology is deployed to support business continuity. Our dedicated focus in business continuity ensures insights and guidance about the aspects of digital technology necessary to sustain resilient business operations.
Digital communications enable the organization to engage the workforce and efficiently interact and collaborate in a secure manner with its customers, partners and suppliers. Our agenda reflects our work to assess technology to guide organizations’ use of a range of communication methods - from unified communication and videoconferencing to communication platforms as a service - that are converging into the field of digital communications. Through 2026, only one-third of organizations will have standardized digital communications technologies to provide the highest level of resilience for an effective workforce.
The myriad of tools adopted by an enterprise to support communication and collaboration can create disruptions that truly require a unified approach for organizational readiness. We will examine how organizations utilize analytics with artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify methods for effective communication, and assess the intersection of digital communication and other applications and tools needed for collaboration and operations. Whether workers, managers or partners needs to interact, enhanced technology must facilitate an engaging work experience. Our market research is designed to produce best practices and insights that helps organizations evaluate and prioritize digital communication options. We will also publish a 2023 Value Index vendor assessment.
Organizations continue to examine how to make it easier for consumers and partners to conduct business. Digital payments, as an example, are not always designed for efficiency between the parties involved. Organizations should make digital payments as efficient as possible to transfer goods and services for financial value in exchange for something similar as agreed by the parties involved. Many organizations may not use efficient technology to streamline finance or revenue interactions across every buying and selling channel. This includes digital currencies and exchanges that are changing the way monetary interactions are conducted. Legacy investments may also be hampering the effectiveness of digital payments.
Effective digital payments require the ability to securely govern processes and technology investments across all buying and selling channels. This includes the digital payment capabilities of all parties, and our assertion is that by 2026, the necessity for contactless payments throughout the buying process will force one-half of organizations to digitally transform and embrace mobile and online technological approaches. Our market research on digital payments will investigate the processes and technologies that can transform organizations’ ability to operate in the most expedited and secure manner possible.
An effective digital security strategy unifies the bifurcated approach to cyber and information security that exists in organizations. These security processes need to be embedded and governed across all digital technologies. Our market agenda focuses on the importance of comprehensive digital security as an essential priority to protect the people, processes and assets - including intellectual property - of an organization.
Our examination of digital security will explore how dedicated technologies have evolved to ensure proper governance and risk mitigation necessary to support distributed organizations with disparate supporting systems operating across hybrid-computing environments. The effective use of best practices can guide the integration and interconnection of these digital security operations, while mitigating risks through use of technological advancements.
Our market research on digital security will examine lessons learned from 2022 - and earlier - that still plague digital technology across the enterprise, including applications for customers and partners. We will evaluate new methods for human-to-machine and machine-to-machine verification that use identity and presence to best secure people and assets. We assert that by 2026, over two-thirds of organizations will have adopted digital identity platforms that unify digital security to protect organizations’ intellectual assets.
Digital experiences across business and processes should be the nucleus for continuous improvement to enable engaging experiences for the workforce, customers and products and services. Our focus on experience management is intended to ensure the effectiveness of all processes and technologies used to increase the impact of investments through satisfaction. This dedicated approach to experiences can enable marketing, sales and supply-chain service agents to distinguish their operations in a differentiated manner.
It is insufficient to focus solely on the customer experience, journey and life cycle. Managing the experience of everyone in the organization - and all constituents supporting this imperative - is key to measuring and improving the effectiveness and value of these interactions. I assert that by 2025, one-half of organizations will realize that digital experiences are not intelligent or automated fail to meet the readiness requirements of organizations. The necessity of optimal experiences to engage and guide people and processes - as well as digital and technological components - are essential for the corporate brand as well as the human connection. Our market research will guide organizations’ needs, plans and attitudes on experiences for enterprise-focused – as well as business-focused – processes and interactions.
Effective use of any governance, risk and compliance processes and systems requires alignment to finance, operations and IT. The knowledge of this group of professionals, and potentially, a center of excellence, can ensure organization-wide best practices and compliance with policies and regulatory guidelines across geographic and statutory requirements.
Significant advancement in digital technology provides an opportunity to identify and invest in new methods that enable streamlined governance and risk mitigation throughout the organization. One area of improvement is the use of automation where, by 2025, a new breed of business process intelligence and mining technology will unify with workflow and robotic process automation technologies to provide operational resilience. Instrumenting workflow with intelligence and policy-focused technology ensures tasks and activities are managed according to corporate and regulatory guidelines. Our market research will provide guidance on essential technologies required to ensure digital business is focused on the impact and value from operations, while minimizing the cost and time required to address governance and risk requirements.
Performance management is the process of efficiently linking an organization to an individuals’ strategies and tactics for desired operational outcomes. This fundamental approach to managing to objectives and key results is growing in business importance. We assert through 2025, one-half of organizations will realize the lack of focus on performance management across business processes has created unnecessary risk in decision-making efforts.
The complexities of digital business have challenged organizations to ensure alignment to desired outcomes and performance within specified time periods. Business effectiveness and resilience requires dedicated applications designed for performance management across the workforce, supporting organizational goals and key performance indicators to align work to the objectives of the organization.
Digital innovation in technology - from analytics to AI/ML - has accelerated the potential to gather intelligence to guide performance management processes that can detect variances and issues impacting overall outcomes. Our market research will help organizations identify the best methodologies and processes in applications that support the requirements for performance management. Combined with digital technologies like collaboration, communication, conversational computing and mobile technology, these applications can deliver the desired experience for everyone in the workforce.
Sustainability and ESG has become an essential priority for the entire executive team. Many organizations now have a chief sustainability officer to ensure a balance in the mission of profitability and efficiency to protect the environment and planet. Success requires leaders address the objectives for sustainability through a technology blueprint. We assert that through 2025, two-thirds of organizations will recognize the lack of applications and insight to optimize sustainability requiring analytics and planning-based performance management systems.
The span of sustainability management is not limited to the direct activities and operations of an organization but also includes those of the extended demand and supply chain - the activities of anyone associated with the initiative, including people and resources. The science behind analytics and data to calculate the organization’s carbon footprint, for example, requires incorporating competencies, skills and knowledge from the industry into the organization. Planning and reporting must complement efforts to guide future direction. For many organizations, disparate activities to market and report corporate sustainability efforts does not necessarily translate to the processes and technology that support the initiative. The importance of a dedicated technology and team that works collaboratively across the organization to address change must be managed through an effective portfolio and work management to ensure progress is made over time.
Our continuous market research will examine best practices and the technological impact of sustainability and ESG. Our expertise will help organizations prioritize technology and vendors in a common blueprint to focus on the necessary sustainability processes that can ensure adequate progress.
Work management is the effective use of the portfolio of people and resources with technology that enable workers to conduct tasks and activities, delivering a specific outcome in a timely and efficient manner. It is not simply about being productive - it encompasses the experience of how work is done digitally to meet business objectives.
While this might seem obvious, most of the software used by organizations was not designed around getting work done, but rather focuses on the utility of what work accomplishes. This emphasis on productivity can have the unintended consequence of negatively impacting the effectiveness of the software. We assert that through 2025, one-half of organizations will invest in work experiences and prioritize work management technologies that optimize use of time for task and activity execution.
As organizations look to engage the workforce in the structured work of projects – and sometimes unstructured aspects of tasks – the juncture of these is where the opportunity lies to simplify work and guide it to expected and timely outcomes. This concept applies to work conducted in customer-facing areas across sales and service; marketing and operations that support front-office activities; or IT, manufacturing and supply-chain activities that are more structured and require a heightened sense of detail and governance. Our continuous market research will identify rapidly evolving best practices in the use of task and program management, blended with collaborative computing, to provide an engaging work experience across the entire organization. In 2023, a vendor assessment of products through our Value Index will help organizations secure the right technology.
Every organization, no matter the industry or size, is a digital business capable of improving areas that impact organizational agility, support the needs of the workforce and focus on the sustainable efforts of everyone. While it is essential to place a priority on the digital experience, the fundamentals lie in the focus of the business and applications that enable an organization to balance priorities holistically to ensure the readiness and resilience of the organization.
Once an organization establishes priorities for how it will focus its digital business investments, the path forward will become clear. Desired outcomes will be attained with effective preparation and strategy to achieve the organizational readiness and engaged workforce with the resilience required. To ensure your path is on course with the right digital priorities for 2023 and beyond, use this expertise and these focus areas as a filter for your own organizational efforts.
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Partner, Head of Software Research
Mark Smith is the CEO and Chief Research Officer of Ventana Research and leads the firm’s global market agenda for business and technology as a subject matter expert in digital business and enterprise software. Mark is a digital technology enthusiast using market research and insights to educate and inspire technology buyers and suppliers.