Industry Insights

Cloud Commerce Experts Share Digital Transformation Trends for 2020

By Ideas @ AppDirect / January 5, 2020

Predictions 2020 blog

As the pace of technology change accelerates, it's getting even harder to pin down the trends that will have an impact on the digital economy. AI, IoT, blockchain, 5G—technologies like these have come to dominate prediction lists, but adoption can vary widely from industry to industry, company to company, and even department to department.

Instead of placing bets on specific technologies, we decided to dig deeper. We gathered cloud commerce experts from several industries to share their insights into how the business and technology landscape is changing. As we enter a new decade, here are the key concepts that should inform your strategy in 2020—and beyond.

1.) Technology consolidation will accelerate, creating a boon for customers—and potential headaches for providers.

Software ecosystems have become a hot topic in technology, and for good reason. By working with outside vendors, companies can innovate faster and deliver more value than they could ever achieve on their own. 

As providers work together—to offer bundled products in a multi-vendor marketplace, for example—technology consolidation is on the rise. Darren Clarke, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships at Deputy, a cloud-based workforce management solution, believes it's a trend that will pay off big for customers. “It's going to drive dependencies and far more integration between systems to make it easier for the end-user customer to make decisions about what to buy,” he says.

However, the consolidation of technology will also put more pressure on companies to not only be more open, but to build strong, long-lasting partnerships. Colum Donahue, co-founder of Genuity, an IT services provider, agrees. "The technology choices you make and the partners you choose will decide whether you come out ahead or you're left by the wayside."

2.) Digital technology will be everywhere, even in places you never expected.

Today, we expect to encounter digital technology in almost every facet of our lives—work, home, school, shopping, you name it. Even so, Anders Farrugia, Portfolio Directors at iCIMS, a SaaS job applicant tracking solution, believes we haven't even scratched the surface. "The consumerization of IT shows no signs of slowing down," he says. "For businesses, that means digital technology that's more user-friendly is coming to your billing practices, your invoicing engines, your customer systems, everywhere you might expect."

Businesses will start to see "on-demand requests for almost everything, and you're just going to have to figure out how to deliver that and meet that expectation."

He continues: "But I think digital technology is also going to hit you in places you never thought it would hit you. For example, you're starting to see contracts that can be edited without a lawyer being involved. Basically, you're starting to see on-demand requests for almost everything, and you're just going to have to figure out how to deliver that and meet that expectation."

3.) Picking the right technology solutions will emerge as a key competitive advantage.

As we enter a new decade, businesses of all sizes continue to have a voracious appetite for apps. In fact, the number of apps deployed by large companies is up almost 70 percent over the past four years to an average of 129, while smaller companies use an average of 73 apps.

In 2020, however, it's not the sheer number of apps a company has that will count, but whether they have the right ones for their business. Helping your customers make smart choices will be critical. As Tim Marsden, Vice President of Marketplace and ISV Solutions at Sage, a provider of business management software, explains, "Our accountant partners recognize that software is taking over a lot of the traditional work that accountants do.”

He continues: “They understand they need to evolve to become trusted advisors to recommend what is best for their clients. When they go to our marketplace and see complementary applications to help them do that, it will be a win-win for everyone."

4.) Keeping pace will no longer be enough—reinvention is critical.

For years, if a business—especially a large incumbent—made some effort to keep up with new trends, it would be more or less successful. As we enter the next decade of the digital economy, however, companies need to rethink how they operate.

"There's a lot of change—digital transformation, Internet of Things, but the fact of the matter is every company today is a technology company, and you have to change," says Donohue. "Since the Fortune 500 was started in 1955, over 90 percent of those companies are no longer around. Since 2000, over 52 percent have dropped off that list."

"[Y]ou have to reinvent yourself, embrace change, and run."

"I don't think you have a choice to actually reinvent things that have worked for you up until this point," agrees iCIMS's Farrugia. "Don't protect how you do things. Seek out advice and discuss where you are now and options for the future. iCIMS has changed tremendously in the past few years. If we had stayed static, we wouldn't be around right now. So you have to reinvent yourself, embrace change, and run."

Ideas @ AppDirect is a leading source for trends, statistics, best practices, and other information related to digital transformation and the digital economy.