Enterprises are allocating massive amounts of funding toward digital transformation -- with the average IT professional estimating more than $1 million for their organization -- yet a concerning percentage are not satisfied with their progress. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that only 16% of organizations believe their digital transformations have successfully improved performance and equipped them to sustain long-term changes.
Time and time again, we see this is due to a lack of business communications transformation. Studies have found that fragmented communications can waste as much as one hour per day per employee,costing hundreds of thousands in lost productivity.
What's more, about 75% of employees surveyed by Gallup admit they feel disconnected, with 37% of those surveyed by Dynamic Signal attributing this to internal silos that stifle workforce communications. As a result, we’re seeing more companies restructuring communications to increase efficiency, improve engagement and trust, and better align workers across the enterprise.
It seems 2019 will (finally) be the year of communications transformation needed for sustainable change and long-term success. So, what should we focus on?
Enterprisewide Communications Integration
To enhance the experiences they deliver, businesses must be willing to embrace digital transformation. At the heart of this is the digital conversation -- a powerful driver of brand satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. Mastering this conversation requires communications infrastructure transformation to allow for the seamless adoption of next-gen technologies that help deliver faster, more intelligent and more adaptive experiences.
But this is only the first step. When it comes to the digital conversation, companies should harness the power of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral analytics to gain a deeper understanding of what makes for a great experience. From there, companies can strategically use those tools to enhance the experience at every stage of engagement.
This requires a profound level of communications integration for gaining a contextual view of the customer journey: contact center technologies, key software systems and customer relationship management (CRM) databases; both traditional and digital communication channels; and cloud solutions for greater agility and flexibility.
Enterprises can have a true digital conversation once this transformation of business communications is complete. End-to-end communications integration is key; companies can no longer support siloed transformation efforts.
AI And Biometrics
Some consumers prefer traditional phone when it comes to customer service, believing it to be the most effective way to get the best answer quickly. Yet, at the same time, we continue to see growing acceptance of and demand for digital technologies like AI-enabled chatbots and biometrics. I believe companies will increasingly embrace these innovations to continue enhancing the experiences they deliver, making such processes as authentication and service delivery smarter and more efficient from start to finish.
It’s important, however, that these technologies are applied only as they fit into customers’ preferred ways of doing business. Companies must be careful to implement these solutions in ways consumers expect and are comfortable with. This could include the seamless escalation of voice to chat or biometrics as an optional layer of end-user security.
From an organizational standpoint, these technologies offer proven benefits and return. According to a recent report from Teradata, 46% of companies are already seeing an increase in revenue when AI is applied to customer service. We may see enterprises increasingly leveraging AI to gain more immediate context on where a customer is along the service journey, as well as more quickly access verification and identification information.
Biometrics, meanwhile, provides an added layer of validation intelligence that will be crucial to the customer experience moving forward. Imagine, for example, being able to decipher a caller’s identity in milliseconds, whether it’s the account holder, a spouse or someone else using the same number. This level of sophistication in regard to location can also enhance efforts to reduce or eliminate typical security questions that prolong transactions and frustrate consumers. Both iOS and Android are working to add advanced location capabilities that will complement this level of biometrics in the near future.
A recent study from Dynatrace found that "IT teams now spend an average of 29% of their time dealing with digital performance problems; costing their employers $2.5 million annually." Companies need simpler architecture services for better managing communications transformation, and they’re turning to microservices to do it.
Simply put, microservices (or microservice architecture) is a flexible and far more competitive method of developing scalable software systems. The approach breaks applications down into their smallest components, making them easier to build and maintain. The Dynatrace study also found that 88% of CIOs marked microservices as a key technology investment for their organization. In 2019, we’ll likely see more companies building custom, communication-enabled apps and workflows that meet specific business, user and vertical needs.
Consider microservices at work in industries like health care and hospitality. Hospitals can improve care team coordination by automatically routing alerts to the right person at the right moment to improve response times and health outcomes. Hotels can build a custom service that seamlessly populates key information into the property management system to streamline and improve guest processes.
As people, processes and services fundamentally change, becoming more dynamically connected, microservices will be key for enhancing customer engagement and user experience. Companies can set themselves up to support any-to-any communication by transitioning to more agile, flexible frameworks that drive digital transformation. In this way, they can do everything from strengthening and unifying both the customer and employee experience to working faster, smarter and with more resiliency.
I believe 2019 will be marked by radical communications transformation with a core focus on communications integration, AI and biometrics, and microservice architecture. Now is the time to get on board.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.