Last year, InfoTech’s Technology Trends report explored what capabilities organizations would need to compete in a digital economy. That theme continues in 2023 with a look at four key tech trends focused on new opportunities that associations and non-profits may want to consider.
While many may agree that The Metaverse is the future, it is still new enough to require a definition.
The metaverse is a platform combining multiple technologies to enable social and economic activity in a digital world that is connected to the physical world. All the major companies in the tech industry are abuzz with metaverse technologies so it’s worth being aware of whether it’s something you plan to utilize within your organization. It’s also important to understand the term “Web3” as it is closely associated with The Metaverse and is used to describe the next generation of the internet.
Attendees at 2022 Digital Now heard a keynote from Alison McCauley titled What Associations Need to Know About Web3. McCauley did a great job at accurately describing the concept for many in the digital space, “it’s staggeringly difficult to understand what they’re talking about, much less when and how you might see it actually show up in your industry. An incredible amount of investment is pouring into the space, which is unleashing a new wave of digital innovation that is gathering steam.”
The metaverse has been proposed as a way to facilitate more engaged collaboration between coworkers in different locations and will surely be a game-changer one day. While it is not too early to start thinking about how to improve conference facilities and procedures for hybrid meetings for remote work, it is likely that the technology will impact the event industry first.
Recent data gathered by InfoTech Research Group shows that 63% of organizations have no plans to collaborate in virtual reality. This isn’t surprising as most of us are still adjusting to hybrid work and are content using platforms like Zoom and Teams for collaboration. The Metaverse may not be in the near future for the association and non-profit industry, but it is something worth keeping an eye on as it continues to develop.
For more information about the metaverse, including risks and benefits, check out this InfoTech primer on how IT can prepare for the new digital world: Into the Metaverse | Info-Tech Research Group.
Generative Artificial Intelligence
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made tremendous strides forward, due in large part to the advent of deep learning. This powerful type of AI can autonomously learn and improve upon tasks by itself, without human intervention. While this is certainly impressive, there is an even more advanced form of AI known as generative artificial intelligence. Generative AI takes things one step further by not only being able to learn and improve upon tasks on its own but also generate new items completely independently. This could be anything from new pieces of art to entire documents or even products. In short, generative AI has the ability to create something entirely new, without any human input whatsoever. Given the immense potential of this technology, it's no wonder that CEOs are taking notice and looking for ways to integrate generative AI into their businesses. In fact, InfoTech research shows that 35% of organizations surveyed report that they are already investing in AI with another 44% of organizations saying that they plan to invest in it next year. Most businesses plan to use AI for business analytics or to automate repetitive or low-level tasks, but it can also be used for identifying risks and improving cybersecurity, and much more.
A big opportunity around AI is the ability to make use of data for the purpose of analysis. Generative AI can interpret unstructured data and transform it into structured data. Not only does this render it usable in analytics but makes it trainable for robotic process automation (RPA). Generative AI can also detect anomalies in network and application behavior, aiding security systems in identifying threats.
It’s important to note that new legislation in places like Canada and Europe is defining new rules around when and how AI can be applied. Organizations that are using AI in situations where governments determine to be high-risk will be required to do more to mitigate risks. However, 55% of organizations are doing nothing to govern AI the moment. As more organizations invest in AI and start applying it to more decision-making processes, IT leaders should be putting governance structures in place before they’re made to do so by new regulations. You can learn more about AI governance here.
Industry-Led Data Models
Data is only as good as the insights it yields. Finding ways to turn data collection into analytics-driven efficiencies can lead to revenue-generating opportunities. Some of the most recognized examples of effective data-driven business models include Netflix and its watch recommendations algorithm, Amazon’s personalized search results, and Facebook’s uncanny targeted ads as a result of behavioral advertising algorithms. However, the success that these companies have experienced has been tougher to mimic in other businesses.
One point of friction has been legacy technology, meaning old methods, computer systems, and application programs, which trap data in silos making it harder to report on or compare against. Even as that problem has been resolved via modernization efforts, converting data analysis into actionable insights has proven difficult. One reason for this is that technology vendors don’t always grasp which factors are important to report on. In an effort to remedy this, solution providers have been collaborating with the industries to drive the insights needed to increase the value of enterprise data.
Big data has been focused on the four V’s model which are volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. A fifth V that must be considered moving forward is value. The most popular ways for organizations to determine the value of their data show how industry-specific expertise comes into play. Seventy percent of organizations determine value based on the improvements made to existing products and services and 65% of organizations determine value based on how effectively the data helps reduce operating costs.
Lacking the right industry expertise means that you can’t understand the variables that need to be considered when improving a product or what is relevant to operational overhead throughout a value chain. Survey results show that 41% of organizations build their own data analysis via in-house staff while another 28% build their own tools and buy tools designed to support analysis.
Ideally, organizations want to put their own industry expertise to work designing analytics that provides the right insights. However, taking on the task of building the tools means they are likely missing out on more effective approaches that have been honed by technology vendors with refined analytics, products, and services. Ultimately, driving the most value from data requires a combination of industry expertise and the best in-class analytics tools.
Sustained Digital Processes
Staying on top of an achieved digital transformation takes continued effort with a dedicated commitment to continuous learning and reviews to maintain this new status. During the pandemic, many companies accelerated their digital transformation. This has resulted in most customer interactions worldwide becoming digital as companies made big investments in an effort to reach a position where they can run the business both more efficiently and effectively. In pursuing digital transformation, it soon becomes apparent that it’s a process without a final state. Instead, it is an evolutionary process that doesn’t have an end as effort is needed to sustain its momentum. This is especially true as new tools and ways of working are constantly being introduced.
Survey data reveals that more companies have completed the initial rush of digitalization and are firmly in the next phase of sustaining their efforts. Last year, eight in ten IT professionals reported digitalizing more than 20% of their processes. This year, however, seven in ten respondents say that they have digitalized between 0-20% of their processes in the last year. As many organizations have finished setting up their digital strategy, it is now time to execute sustaining their advantages. When we asked what motivation they had to pursue automation, the most popular answer at 69% was increased staff focus on high-level. A little more than two-thirds of respondents also stated that increasing the productivity of staff without increasing headcount is a motivation. Only 35% say the motivation is cost saving by reducing headcount.
Organizations need to go beyond just digitalizing their processes by seeking to optimize those processes if they want to achieve the goals that were originally set. Ultimately, digitalization sets up a process to be probed with process mining tools that can examine how processes are executed. They can then determine what actions affect key performance indicators. These tools are bottom-up approaches that capture and document processes as they are executed. The pandemic brought with it limited in-person activities which forced organizations to devise a digital plan quickly to continue serving customers. This meant reworking business processes and systems to a more modern approach. As pandemic limitations have eased, organizations are looking to sustain the value they created from their investments.
InfoTech’s Technology Trends report for 2023 is filled with lots of helpful information on what the future may hold for associations and nonprofits. While it can be overwhelming to try and stay ahead of the curve, it is important to at least have a basic understanding of upcoming trends so you know how they may impact your organization. If you need help implementing any of the changes required to keep up with the digital economy, our team of IT professionals is here to help. We specialize in working with associations and nonprofits, so we understand the unique challenges you face. Feel free to contact a Cimatri team member – we’d be happy to answer any questions you have or get started on helping you implement the right integration platform for your needs.