The pervasive use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in business — coupled with collaborative systems, internetworked teams and tech-savvy business leaders — signals that we are getting closer to the next step change in productivity.
Dan Hushon, chief technology officer (CTO) at DXC Technology, in his 2020 DXC technology trends, points out that enterprises are continuing to reap the rewards of technology to drive business growth. DXC’s North and Central Europe’s CTOs talked to Thrive about the impact the 2020 tech trends will have on the region.
Q: What are your most important takeaways from DXC’s 2020 trends?
Wolfgang Herbst, CTO, North and Central Europe: Change is the new constant in economy. In the past few years, the focus was fully on the utilization of disruptive technology. Now we see the first strong impacts on how we work and how we organize our business. Collaboration and coopetition — or cooperating with competitors — is the new paradigm to survive in a constantly changing environment.
Axel Szymanski, CTO, Germany: The only thing we know for sure is that everything is changing constantly. To survive and thrive in this environment, both organisations and individuals need to adopt a flexible mind-set. Going forward, the full potential of innovative technologies will be harnessed only by those who are ready to switch to agile working, and invest in and develop high-performing teams, backed by business-focused leaders.
Per Foldager, CTO, Northern Europe: The trends are challenging for many organisations. Everyone is interested in the benefits, but they will need to work hard to see positive results. Organisations will have to focus on creating high-performance teams, which is very similar to creating powerful sports teams. They will need to make the necessary preparations, train regularly, set a clear strategy and use the right tools to make the best of their capabilities.
Lukas Hatala, CTO, Eastern Europe: The most important trend for Eastern Europe is that the value of data increases in ecosystems. Organisations want to transform their businesses and connect them into a European data ecosystem to scale their work to the EU market. However, the region is missing the technical integration with the Western European market and the right digital capabilities that can help it benefit from the European data ecosystems.
Daniel Spithout, CTO, Netherlands: Organisations must have the right mind-set for change to use the full potential of digital technologies effectively. To transform, they need to be flexible and agile, work on getting the right skills, and most importantly, be willing to apply these technologies and learn from them.
Berry van der Linge, CTO, Switzerland: With the increasing use of new disruptive technologies, the perspectives are changing, and organisations are realising how technology can deliver greater benefits. Going forward, it’s essential to show support for skilled employees and enable them to work in an agile/DevOps way. Also, data insights can bring strong benefits if used well, so a clear data strategy is crucial to stay competitive.
Q: How will these trends influence organisations and the future of work in your region?
Herbst, CTO, North and Central Europe: We are already seeing the influence of the 2020 trends in Central Europe’s traditional industries. Companies that follow a moonshot strategy, act in a flexible and agile manner, prepare every part of the organisation for a digital transformation and support their employees to gain new digital capabilities will continue to thrive in the market.
Szymanski, CTO, Germany: Since AI has taken over simple entry-level tasks, in the next few years we will see it crawl up the food chain — making the human factor even more important. Working on the NCE (northern, central and eastern Europe) Digital Transformation Centre focused on delivery through agile methods, I’ve seen how much value clients get from agile high-performing teams. The workforce of the future is built by individuals balancing hard and soft skills, working in teams of mixed experts focused on developing business-driven solutions.
Foldager, CTO, Northern Europe: Focusing just on the use of the newest technologies as the basis for innovation is not the most effective strategy. The trends are an opportunity to ensure that your workforce has the right mix of “mavericks” — innovators who experiment with new technologies and concepts — and “enforcers” — people following plans who can mature solutions for business gains.
Hatala, CTO, Eastern Europe: Organisations in Eastern Europe are already planning and incorporating these trends in their agendas. Companies and governments are appointing chief digitalisation officers, who are strong leaders in both technology and business. Everyone is turning to agile working, making the team the true superstar moving the digital agenda forward.
Spithout, CTO, Netherlands: Seizing the power of digital working and technologies should be part of the overall organisational strategy. While companies in the Netherlands are quite innovative, that innovation is still not a part of their organisational DNA. Business and IT should be connected and working as one to work smarter and use technology effectively. The teams must collaborate to innovate and make a real impact.
Van der Linge, CTO, Switzerland: Adopting these technologies and ways of working is challenging for many companies in our region. The innovators are already implementing disruptive technologies to increase productivity or adopt new business models, but many others are still lagging behind. On a positive note, everyone understands they must make crucial organisational changes to support the adoption and implementation of new technologies in their everyday work.
Q: How are AI and ML in business helping us get closer to the next step-change in productivity?
Herbst, CTO, North and Central Europe: AI and ML will affect most of the standard tasks in certain business domains. But this is just the first step. To unleash the full benefit, leaders must rethink their operating model in an end-to-end motion. The use of AI and ML is not just a matter of technology, but a matter of a complete change-management process based on the availability and the smart use of the new possibilities.
Szymanski, CTO, Germany: AI and ML enable us to deliver tangible business outcomes within days or hours sometimes! The user feedback we receive faster than ever allows us to adapt the solution or even re-evaluate the strategy and improve upon it.
Foldager, CTO, Northern Europe: There is still some way to go before AI and ML can lead to a broader increase in productivity. Focusing on the right issues first is imperative. Productivity is about simplifying and removing overhead in processes. AI and ML could be used to clarify to what degree the steps in various processes matter, and help remove and automate less significant tasks.
Hatala, CTO, Eastern Europe: AI is the bridge between digital transformation and cognitive revolution. The cognitive revolution space is much bigger, and once we get there we will be able to automate and increase the efficiency of many processes and services. However, for the near future we will mostly see activities related to project planning and process assessment so we can deploy AI properly.
Spithout, CTO, Netherlands: AI and ML are nothing new. What is new is that these technologies are available to a wider audience that can use them to transform business and public services. Organisations that want to apply AI in their processes should understand the capabilities and limitations of these technologies first. If businesses invest in educating and enabling teams to apply AI in a controlled way, the benefits can be enormous.
Van der Linge, CTO, Switzerland: It’s important to identify the areas where AI, ML and internet of things technologies can make strategic improvements in your organisation. With a clear strategy in place, you can implement these technologies effectively and use the right tools to analyse the right data, build algorithms and data models, and ensure they are using only the most relevant data insights to improve productivity or develop the new business models.