Introduction: Innovating in the digital era Tech Trends 2016

Technology leaders are in a rare position to imagine a future, and then harness innovation to build it responsibly from the realities of today.

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In a business climate driven by powerful digital forces, disruption, and rapid-fire innovation, every company is now a technology company. Whereas technology was traditionally confined largely to operations and execution, its digital expression now informs all aspects of business, from ideation to delivery. We witness daily how it drives product design, upends venerable business models, and rewires competition.

The ascendance of exponential technologies to a place of strategic primacy has occurred within a turbulent context. Globalization is driving borderless growth across established and emerging markets. Barriers to entry are being lowered, if not demolished. In this climate, new entrants focused on niches, specific functions, and overlooked domains can make meaningful impacts on a global stage traditionally dominated by the world’s biggest players.

At the same time, customers are demanding evolved methods of engagement that are personalized, contextual, and tailored for individual usability and utility. Likewise, the very nature of employment is evolving as new skill sets become bargaining chips. Talent scarcity complicates efforts to rethink operating and delivery models across functions and domains.

To help make sense of it all, we present Deloitte’s seventh Technology Trends report, our annual in-depth examination of eight trends that are likely to disrupt businesses in the next 18–24 months. From blockchain and augmented reality to the Internet of Things and the socially responsible applications of technology, these trends embody the macro forces fueling innovation: digital, analytics, cloud, and the changing role of IT within the enterprise. We balance our coverage of each trend by also considering the implications of cyber risk in the areas of security, privacy, regulatory mandates, and compliance. We intentionally examine cyber risk not as a separate topic, but as an enterprise discipline embedded in the planning, design, and realization of each individual trend.

The theme of this year’s report is innovating in the digital era, which is inspired by the opportunities today’s CIOs—across industries, geographies, and company sizes—have to shape tomorrow for every corner of their organizations by transforming “business as usual.” These leaders are in a rare position to imagine a future, and then harness innovation to build it responsibly from the realities of today.

Tech Trends features perspectives from client executives, industry and academic luminaries, and our global network of Deloitte professionals, all exploring major trends that are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. We also examine the roadmaps and investment priorities of start-ups, venture capitalists, and leading technology vendors.

As you read the following chapters, we challenge you to think beyond the “what” of digital innovation—the shiny objects, applications, and capabilities—to the “so what”—how you will harness emerging trends, innovation, and disruption to create real business value. Viewing the horizon through this paradigm, recognize that the precision to which we’ve all become accustomed may no longer be a given; in the age of digital innovation, we are exploring largely uncharted territory. Moreover, any digital transformation journey should also address the more practical realities of today—reimagining core systems, industrializing analytics capabilities, building autonomic platforms—which are by no means trivial.

Over the next 18–24 months, the only constant may be the specter of constant change. Amid this turmoil, organizations that can confidently and purposefully harness technology trends will find great opportunities to refocus, to revitalize, or even to inspire. Think beyond incremental adoption patterns. Look not only for ways to do familiar things differently, but also to do fundamentally different things. Launch new processes, products, and services, and seek out new ways to compete. No matter what the scope, the time for you to act is now. Build tomorrow, starting today.

Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Technology Consulting practice is dedicated to helping our clients build tomorrow by solving today’s complex business problems involving strategy, procurement, design, delivery, and assurance of technology solutions. Our service areas include analytics and information management, delivery, cyber risk services, and technical strategy and architecture, as well as the spectrum of digital strategy, design, and development services offered by Deloitte Digital. Learn more about our Technology Consulting practice on www.deloitte.com.