Last year we summed up Gartner’s annual list of technology trends for the year ahead. (See https://www.mavim.com/blog/hyperautomation-no-1-trend-roaring-twenties-gartners-top-ten-strategic-technology-trends-2020). The Black Swan events of 2020 pushed some of those forecasts aside—but others more relevant than ever.
For 2021, the focus has changed. Last year’s overarching theme: hyperautomation, going beyond automating individual processes with applications to link the applications themselves into a vast, enterprise-wide machine is still in there. But this year’s forecasts place more emphasis on flexibility, adaptability, the ability to change fast when the environment does.
Gartner’s driving trend this time around is a summation of all the others: combinatorial innovation, the way different technologies can unlock greater value when used together in creative ways.
Our combinatorial innovations—in business process mining, and its impact on RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and IA (Intelligent Automation)—include a focus on your target operational model, not just process mining your existing one. Because in every business, there are countless processes that could work better. And it’s only by working out the best-case scenario that you can see the gaps in an existing one.
With that in mind, let’s analyze Gartner’s new list for 2021—with notes on the value Mavim can add to each.
What marks out Gartner’s list is that it isn’t a list. Like its other tools—the Magic Quadrant comes to mind—it’s more of a landscape, with trends clustering and an overall theme uniting them all. Let’s start with the first clump: people centricity.
1. An Internet of Behaviours
The Internet of Things—from lightswitches to ATM outlets—weaves disparate data points together as events: triggers for other actions when a set of conditions is fulfilled. Its rise has enabled the first of this year’s “people centric” trends: technology that responds not simply to whether a condition has been met (like a light switching on after dark) but that deliberately incentivises or disincentives people’s behaviour.
These range from the benign (a recognized customer being offered a snap discount) to the stentorian (China’s social credit system, which encourages citizens to act in government-approved ways). Mavim’s take on this is on the benign side.
When building your Digital Twin Organization (DTO) by mapping out operational processes, it includes people’s actions, letting you model the value in changing those actions. Could an extra nudge here, a small incentive there, create wide-ranging positive effects across your organization? The IoB may be Gartner’s future trend, but at Mavim we’re already doing it.
2. The Total Experience
Gartner defines TX as a mix of MX, CX, EX, and UX: the combined experience of multiple constituencies spanning customers, employees, and users. The idea is that by aligning what all these people experience at the points where they intersect, the positives—shared understanding, comfort, mutual trust—will get an uplift too.
With employees now working far more from bedrooms than boardrooms, harmonizing such bonds is even more vital. Mavim’s in full agreement here too.
Mining processes in isolation has minimal value without seeing how they fit into the broader context, the “total experience”. Processes, after all, involve everyone: customers, employees, other stakeholders. And it’s only by seeing how they interact as a whole that you can judge where the shortcomings are.
3. Privacy-enhancing computation
With Europe’s GDPR legislation fast becoming a model for the world, companies face big penalties for abusing customer data—both reputational and legal. Hence Gartner’s third people-centric trend. How can a company protect people’s privacy, without losing the economic potential of their data?
The answer may be to anonymize in aggregate, as with credit card fraud detection. Or federate rather than centralize, as with blockchains. Or, of course, discover process improvements without making people feel they’re being watched.
That’s another value of creating a DTO: it lets you see what’s happening, without intruding on people at work. If privacy can be enhanced while increasing strategic understanding, we support it.
4. A distributed Cloud
Gartner’s second trio involves location independence: putting computing resources close at hand wherever they’re needed, without losing the command and control policies that let executives steer the company’s strategy. This means a lot more than workers sharing Google Docs—it’s about real-time trading, high-volume machine learning, legislated data housing requirements where capacity needs to reside in a specific (perhaps faraway) place.
Again, Mavim has an angle. A business process can cross multiple borders and jurisdictions; improving it needs to take account of requirements on the ground, like the availability of a local data center. By mapping each process as actual transactions, rather than “what people think they do”, its resource requirements can be assessed more accurately … and optimized with greater confidence.
5. Anywhere operations
Related to the distributed Cloud is a second “location” trend: the need to empower employees anywhere with the tools to deliver customer service anywhere. You can’t email a handshake—but with high-bandwidth telepresence technologies like Zoom becoming mainstream, it’s reasonable to foresee remote becoming the Next Normal long after Covid-19 fades.
Once more, there’s a Mavim advantage. Based on tools that already live in the Cloud—Microsoft BI, Visio, even documents and spreadsheets—your process mining model can be made available to the furthest reaches of your management team, worldwide. All seeing a single version of the truth based on transactional data gathered in real time. Planning for the future is a lot easier when you’ve got an accurate view of the present.
6.The cybersecurity mesh
In the last few years, cybersecurity hasn’t just grown in importance: it’s changed in nature. The firewall used to protect the office infrastructure. Now, it’s a sea of bubbles wrapping each and every laptop and phone as they travel between office network, mobile web, and public Wifi. And orchestrating policies, applications, and authentication in this model is a lot harder. Making it the third of Gartner’s “location” trio.
Mavim has always treated security as non-optional—with a bonus: our applications have always been distributed and cloud-friendly, with security part of the package. Giving us a headstart on 2021.
7. An Intelligent Composable Business
The final trio in Gartner’s Top 10 revolves around the theme of “resilient delivery”—and it’s easy to guess why. When circumstances force people out of the office, onto their own devices, even into new busines models, flexibility in all things matters. Kicking off Gartner’s three here is the ICB.
An Intelligent Composable Business decouples a positive business outcome from the processes that led to it—finding methods for delivering consistently strong outcomes, even if the business processes behind it have to change in a hurry. It’s about second-sourcing, multiple-methods, supply chains that are flexible and networked instead of singular and brittle. In other words, what many companies have had to learn by trial and error during 2020.
Its implementation, of course, is sophisticated. A goal of IA, Intelligent Automation. But the principle is surprisingly simple: breaking a process down into parts, and seeing how a different arrangement of those parts could produce the same result. And in a nutshell, that’s what Mavim’s DTO lets you do.
8. AI Engineering
A sad reality: in 2020, many enterprises found it difficult to move AI past the proof-of-concept stage. That’s why, in 2021, Gartner sees companies looking critically at their machine learning strategies … and placing greater emphasis on operationalizing them, focusing on a particular goal. That’s AI engineering: getting past the initial excitement and into the grind of making it profitable.
That’s music to our ears at Mavim. Because the way a DTO lets you conceptualize a target operational model is the essence of engineering: basically, What-If scenarios at scale. Again, it seems BPM is ready for the next year … and beyond.
The greatest potential is in automating everything. At least, everything automatable. So Gartner’s 2020 forecast about hyperautomation and RPA reappears in 2021’s Top 10.
The average company’s processes are a patchwork of questionably-integrated technologies: applications, databases, APIs, often connected more by shared understanding and tacit knowledge than explicit data feeds. Optimizing those suboptimalities is, of course, Mavim’s reason for being.
A DTO is the sum total of transacted processes across your organization. And once you’ve that model, you can start improving it. It seem’s Mavim’s on-trend once again.
10. Bringing it all together: combinatorial innovation
Gartner’s last trend isn’t a list item, but an umbrella concept. Even if no new products, services, or TLAs (three-letter acronyms) emerge in 2021, there remains immense scope for using what exists already in different, creative ways. This trend wraps the other nine.
A DTO holds great promise here. A large organization’s process model may show hundreds, even thousands, of ways different processes achieve the same outcome—each with operational pluses and minuses. What if, among all those interactions and duplications, the one best way could be found—combining all those partial best practices into one?
That’s Gartner’s latest Top 10. Not surprisingly, we agree every trend there is going to be more important in 2021—since so many of these approaches are a basic part of our philosophy. If you’ve got questions on how Mavim can make them work for your business, contact us today.