Go big or go home.

That’s the overarching message when it comes to digital transformation in 2019. If you’ve been following a hybrid traditional-digital strategy — where everyone is a little bit digital — it’s time to trade in that Prius for a Tesla.

Pilot projects and small wins are nice, but it’s time for companies to take their business transformation efforts to the next level to boost productivity and growth, improve business outcomes, invent new markets and customer experiences, and reinvest savings to fund additional digitalization efforts.

IT leaders should bring internally competing business units together to create a unified IT/business strategy for digital transformation. Everyone should be on board, supporting a single, well-defined digital strategy with talent, funding and executive attention.

The goals should be bold, ambitious and strategic. By aiming for a “moonshot,” this digital trend will spread excitement across the organization, sweeping away resistance from skeptics, attracting the best minds in the company and positioning the company for nonlinear growth.

In making a major strategic bet on digital, it’s vital that leaders also examine the other digital trends that will drive transformation efforts in 2019.

Data, data and more data

Ultimately, digital transformation comes down to data: where does it come from, where does it go, how does it get processed, how do you gain business insight from it, and how does that fundamentally change the operations of your organization?

Most enterprises are already swimming in data that they are struggling to capture and make sense of, much less act on. And the explosion of new data from internet of things (IoT) smart devices threatens to overwhelm existing systems.

In 2019, organizations will take on the challenge of building new platforms that can collect, aggregate and analyze industry-specific data. This represents a major undertaking, but the rewards cannot be understated. By applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to large datasets, companies can identify previously unknown correlations among data, enabling companies to make new discoveries. Automation plays a key role in the ability to quickly act on these insights to fully operationalize their advantage.

Companies will also think about data in new ways. Some data is time-sensitive and needs to be processed at the source, whether that’s a customer, a car, an airport, a hotel or an offshore oil rig. Organizations should ensure that sufficient data analytic processing power is shifted to the edge to accommodate these “data decay” time value requirements.

Broader implications

Indeed, increasing data decay rates, coupled with the higher volume and velocity of data, mean that enterprises must react exponentially faster to maximize the value derived from the data. Data “gravity” becomes a primary design principle for new multi-latency systems. Data gravity draws similar data together locally, and with the increased size of data graphs, so too move the analytics. As these analytics begin to drive intelligent actions, more data and actors are drawn into the local orbit.

This brings us to “the Matrix,” the pervasive, intelligent IT infrastructure that goes beyond cloud and puts analytics — and us — ever closer to the data. The trend toward data, applications and analytics moving to the edge has the potential to shake up the traditional cloud computing model, where power is concentrated among a small number of central players. New, decentralized, event-driven applications might be running in the customers’ pockets, on their wrists or on their desktops. This shift of power to large numbers of highly distributed people could be very disruptive.

Another implication of data moving to the edge is the slow demise of the enterprise data center. In 2019, there will be a major shift of enterprise data center workloads to multi-tenant data centers in the public cloud to meet the needs of edge computing. Organizations will process data closer to its source, and public cloud providers have the bandwidth and strategically placed data centers to make that happen.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account in 2019 is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other rules protecting customers’ personal data. Organizations can use this as an opportunity to revamp their digital strategies to build trust and deliver even more valuable customer experiences.

Bottom line: By taking these trends into account, IT organizations in 2019 can lead their organizations to an all-digital future. The guiding principles are:  Think big, learn fast and execute forward.

Read more about our 2019 digital trends at dxc.technology/2019.