Unlike previous years, 2019 will cause shifts in how businesses understand, view and use technology. Large trends that have been colliding and evolving over the years are now becoming mature, and businesses focused on becoming digital leaders will reap the rewards.  Most of the trends of 2019 aren’t necessarily new, but they are entering a new phase where business in the leading majority of the adoption curve will start to capitalize on them. So, let’s look at some of the drivers that will move the next batch of companies into the digital leaders in their industries.

DevOps moves mainstream

The discussion is over, the facts are in, the reports are completed. Digital leaders outperform their peers in B2B. And not just by a little bit, digital leaders are crushing the competition. Businesses that make technology a part of their culture, and embrace a lifestyle of collecting, learning from, and using data effectively will win. Because of this, development resources are in high demand. Developers connect disparate systems, create reports to analyze data, link internal processes, automate workloads, and help businesses get visibility into the most important facets of the business. DevOps connect that development intelligence with operational intelligence and are growing in popularity in small and medium sized companies (Enterprise sized businesses are way ahead of SMB’s in this category). Expect DevOps capabilities to become a key differentiator for businesses in 2019. Those who invest will be setting themselves up to become the next round of digital leaders.

5G and redundancy

More and more applications and systems are moving to the cloud. This will continue without question for the foreseeable future. Because of this shift, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on their Internet connectivity. Simultaneously 5G technology has been progressing, and a major development in 2018 paved the way for it to come to market. In 2019 we’ll see the major players like AT&T, T-Mobile (now with Sprint), Verizon and others bring 5G products to market. This is important for business because it gives us another inexpensive option for Internet service that makes redundancy easier to implement and more affordable. Combining your existing Internet with a service like 5G will give you more reliability, which translates to more access to your cloud-based systems and applications.  Expect the digital leaders to focus on creating redundant Internet in 2019 and eliminating profit sucking downtime due to Internet failures.

End of the password

We’ve written about this again, and again, and again, but to get right to the point, passwords are not secure – at all. They are the number one reason hackers get your data, and one of the largest contributing factors of financial loss around security exploits. With several new technologies coming to market aimed at creating a more secure, reliable, and easier to use authentication process, businesses will be moving away from the old way and into better ways to protect themselves. Digital leaders jumping on the passwords are dead bandwagon will have better connected and better protected systems,  that are also easier to use. Bonus! This will save time and money and create an opportunity for differentiation from less secure competitors.

Data Regulation

It’s coming, and soon! The poor attempt at data privacy and management within the social media giants has sparked conversations in Washington regarding consumer data protection. This will inevitably lead to new regulations for businesses. Soon you’ll need to let people know what data you have, how you use it, how they can delete it, and who you share it with. All this means exposure for the non-compliant, and potential opportunity for those that embrace it. The digital leaders in 2019 will look to create ethical policies and practices for the data they collect and store about businesses and individuals. We also expect this will be another marketing tool to separate them from businesses that are behind the data protection curve.

AI Tools

We have been hearing about AI for a while now, but with no real tangible take-a-ways for most small to mid-size businesses. Expect that to change in 2019. Over the last few years we have seen an explosion in tools, applications, and frameworks that allow more companies to test the waters of AI. With DevOps (see trend one) gaining a foothold in SMB’s we expect AI to start coming into the picture. The digital leaders of tomorrow will be starting their AI R&D today. Expect businesses to use 2019 to get a better understanding of the capabilities of AI, explore integration of small AI projects into the workplace, and define and build strategies necessary to evolve their business. Technology is changing every industry, and AI will be at the forefront. Today’s digital leaders will be ready.

2019 will be a very interesting year.  The large trends that have been slow to progress over the last five years, will move much faster going forward. The companies looking to remain digital leaders, and the ones looking to become ones, need to stay ahead of what is coming. We hope our business first view of what is happening in 2019 gives you the insight you need to start the discussions with your executive teams.  Good luck, and Happy New Year!