Digital Transformation Trends to Watch Out for in 2021
Emerging trends in every industry are studied by businesses so they can stay on top of their game – in the software world, it’s necessary to understand valuable movements to incorporate the latest and greatest digital transformation trends into products as part of your digital transformation strategy. Certain technologies have taken hold in the market and are expected to become more prevalent as well as evolve to become more beneficial.
The high-tech world is recognized for rapid changes using digital transformation but this year, we’re expecting to see existing technologies go to the next level more so than any truly novel features emerge. With that said, advancements in mobile app tech will add momentum to some of the movements we’re seeing take place. Let’s first revisit some design trends we recently discussed and then we’ll dive into digital transformation trends for a handful of industries this year.
A quick recap on mobile app design trends
Not long ago, we covered design trends that we expect to see take a firm hold in new releases and future iterations of mobile apps. Highly engaging components that add to the UX like chatbots, secure third-party sign-ins, motion graphics, and more improve functionality by making software more useful. The intersection of design and operability is one that showcases how highly-visible features on the surface become something that a user engages with without giving it much thought.
While it might seem like splitting hairs to differentiate top-level features with those running on the backend, we want to distinguish the two as many technical advancements driving functions behind the scenes aren’t quite as obvious. Certain backend features, like those driven by AI and ML, aren’t usually as apparent but they need to be discussed so businesses can understand the value they provide to incorporate into their own digital transformation strategy. In the following, we’re going to look at some advanced digital transformation trends that will vastly improve the functionality of software where they’re applied.
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Upcoming digital transformation trends for different industries
Businesses using cutting-edge technology effectively can surpass competitors and set the bar for the rest of the market. Much of what we’ll highlight has the potential to drastically shift expectations and influence the future of the market.
Application of PGHD (Patient-Generated Health Data.) The future of healthcare is already being driven by technology that puts more control in the hands of patients. Healthcare at its core has always been “patient-centric” (that’s the whole point, right?) but until recently, individuals have been at the mercy of treatment regimens designed by their provider based on bits of input they gather during visits.
Historically, a major problem with both physical and mental healthcare is the fact that testing and diagnostics only occur during office visits which is why PGHD will play a major role in digital transformation strategy moving forward. With a greater volume of data – as with anything remotely scientific – medical health professionals can get better insights into a patient’s health profile that will allow them to derive better treatment options.
Various wearables such as those that monitor heart rate and track steps in conjunction with home health tech like Bluetooth blood pressure testing units, Bluetooth pen caps, and other specialized tools along with apps that capture this information can paint a more comprehensive picture of someone’s health when users take advantage of these systems. By using HIPAA-compliant APIs that can securely push and pull data between user devices and medical systems, healthcare providers are better equipped to spot trends they wouldn’t otherwise see.
Since we have the technology to capture and transmit data automatically, the analytics portion will be the next to get attention in digital transformation trends. In the past, we used an example in this blog where an individual might show high blood pressure during a checkup but have great cardiovascular health because this symptom stems from anxiety. In another example found here, one patient with persistent pain problems began walking less over time throughout her treatment, per the data from her step counting system, as her pain was subsiding which allowed her to sit in comfort long enough to enjoy her hobby of writing.
Time, data, and experimentation will increase the efficacy of PGHD as its use becomes more commonplace in medical companies’ digital transformation strategy. This year, we’ll see more concerted efforts to interpret this data that will teach developers how to adapt analytics to successfully present information in ways that are highly useful to medical professionals.
Improvements to telemedicine. The pandemic shot platforms like Zoom into the mainstream as video calls replaced a significant chunk of face-to-face human interaction. This technology was rapidly adopted in healthcare to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for existing providers and further served as the backbone for services like Lemonaid to carve out a spot in the market.
As a result, we observed a surge of searches on the web for HIPAA-compliant platforms and plugins. This will eventually translate to more providers refining their platforms or tools to meet the requirements for the secure exchange of healthcare information. Because healthcare providers were able to see these systems in action, we will see this feature become more commonplace in healthcare apps designed to connect providers with their patients.
Blockchain for medical data storage. While blockchain is still considered a young technology, many are considering practical implementations for the healthcare industry. The idea is that blockchain can serve to increase patient-centered interoperability by allowing “patients to assign access rules for their medical data, for example, permitting specific researchers to access parts of their data for a fixed period of time. With blockchain technology, patients can connect to other hospitals and collect their medical data automatically.”
Once issues with security and scalability are solved, patient data could both become more accessible and protected, as paradoxical as it sounds. Storing hashes that reference patient data using blockchain would safely provide larger datasets for medical researchers, enable individuals to access their data, and vastly improve record sharing between medical practices.
Most likely, we won’t see blockchain come to fruition on a production level for healthcare before the end of the year. However, experiments and proof of concepts that will emerge throughout the year from various companies like BurstIQ, Factom, and others are bound to lead to the kind of breakthrough that’s needed for this technology to become a viable tool for digital transformation strategy.
AI and ML improvements. Everywhere you look on the web, blogs and featured articles home in on the application of AI and ML digital transformation trends in two primary areas: product recommendations and chatbots. While neither are new at this point, both are seeding themselves as standard design features for modern eCommerce as they’ve been proven to increase conversion.
On the backend, efforts to implement functions that improve how these systems interpret information with emotional intelligence will take place on a broad scale and affect much more than just chatbots. One such way this will be accomplished is through sentiment analysis that gauges the user’s feelings and further attributes a confidence score to the output. Beyond knowing the difference between positive and negative, being able to identify a more diverse range of emotions like skepticism and excitement proves to be incredibly useful in a few areas such as calculating the performance of a future product. A good example comes from the company Brandwatch that used sentiment analysis for the smartphone company, OnePlus, to analyze their audience’s feelings which you can read more about in this case study.
Retailers can use sentiment analysis to parse customer feedback with minimal effort then adapt everything from inventory control measures to certain procedures based on what they learned as part of a new element to a digital transformation strategy. On a deeper level, this information can be shared with their vendors, thus allowing them to better play to their strengths and make improvements where needed. Understanding sentiment also better equips businesses to better tailor their responses when engaging with reviews and feedback.
Geofencing and Bluetooth beacon technology. Specialized sensors and internal smartphone components like Bluetooth and GPS radios can work together or independently to provide more insights and increase conversions based on a user location. More retailers will be overhauling their apps with these digital transformation trends to take advantage of digital tactics to better engage with customers.
Starting with geofencing, retailers can connect with individuals who fall inside a virtual perimeter which can help in a couple of ways. One way geofencing providers help business is by allowing them to push out notifications to users in a certain geographic location. By sending out offers like coupons and such, retailers can get customers to spend more money than they would otherwise. This year, we’re likely to see more innovation with this technology where businesses will connect these to their chatbot systems which could answer questions like the location of items in a store or provide details on a product.
The idea behind Bluetooth beacons is much the same – with proper placement of these sensors, businesses can engage with customers to provide offers and information. We expect to see this technology evolve to engage with visitors in a similar fashion to geofencing.
Two popular franchises, Walgreens and Whole Foods, have enjoyed substantial results by creatively using geofences that other businesses will likely soon adopt into their digital transformation strategy. Walgreens tethers their geofencing to their customer rewards system which puts the customer rewards front and center when a user enters a location which encourages increased spending. Whole Foods is using a sneaky maneuver by setting up geofences near competitor locations, enticing individuals to instead shop at one of their locations – this campaign has “garnered them with a 4.69% post-click conversion rate” as well as more foot traffic at stores where this tactic is being employed.
More mobile apps and social media shopping. Though mobile web pages for eCommerce allow customers to view content and make purchases, reports indicate that they don’t perform as well as their mobile app counterparts. Mobile apps have a much higher conversion rate by about 157%, even when they offer the same functions.
While there are several reasons for this, one is simply that mobile apps built with native frameworks or cross-platform frameworks like React Native often perform better than mobile web pages. The smoother operation of a well-designed eCommerce UI allows users to keep their momentum while browsing items and content. Users that make the effort to install a retailer’s mobile app often have the intention of using it which is another reason that we observe higher conversion rates.
With apps proving to be better at converting, more retailers will be offering mobile apps to support their business this year. This also provides some additional benefits as well such as improved security – though phishing can take place anywhere, the architecture of apps on both Android and iOS prevents this from happening.
Social media shops are emerging tools that will become more accessible to retailers this year with systems Shops on Instagram that allow customers to make purchases directly from the platform. Though the social media market is somewhat limited, Parler proved during its short time on the market that there is still room for more. Both existing and emerging platforms will follow suit and offer similar tools to make shopping a more convenient experience.
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Building Information Modeling (BIM) and improved collaboration. Architects and engineers use modern BIM solutions to design sites and structures. These modeling systems include a ton of tools that allow professionals to create 3D models, design blueprints, outline specifications, and much more.
One of the digital transformation trends we expect to see more of in the construction industry will follow suit with the likes of Autodesk by offering new or improved tools for generative design. These systems use AI to generate multiple design variations for a project by taking every bit of information about a building site into consideration. This is the driving feature behind the platform we built in partnership with Sidewalk Labs known as Delve – you can learn how UK-based real estate developer, Quintain, used this tool to rapidly-produce multiple design options for a site they developed outside of Wembley Stadium by reading this case study.
Currently, after designs and blueprints are finalized, data is transmitted to construction software like PlanGrid that onsite professionals use for reference. Systems like PlanGrid include tools that allow workers to create markup and add notes to prints which keeps everyone on the same page. One digital transformation strategy we expect to see take hold this year is greater connectivity between construction platforms and design software – as anyone who has worked in skilled labor knows, designers can make mistakes. Collaborative sharing via secure APIs that bridge design and construction software allows architects and engineers to address substantial design issues in real-time which will make teams productive.
Intelligence for construction tools. Revolutionary systems construction like Volvo Compact Assist don’t make mainstream headlines despite making waves in this industry. This app runs on embedded systems installed on compacting equipment to analyze mixtures like soil and asphalt as well as provide real-time density calculations through pass mapping. It uses a neural network to offer AI algorithms that adapt to mixture compositions to help roller operators ensure that foundations are properly built.
In conjunction with generative design, AI-driven systems for construction tools will improve worksite productivity and the quality of output. Construction equipment manufacturers and tool companies will be implementing tools that parallel what we see in Volvo’s solution for better insights into technical processes – the next wave of cutting-edge construction equipment and tools will include sensors that will connect with apps to provide analytics and feedback that can help users improve technique, mitigate risks, monitor wear-and-tear, and beyond. By feeding this data into construction apps, managers gain a better understanding of worker performance and equipment integrity.
Better payroll tech. Every business needs a system to pay its workforce – until recently, the extent of the capabilities furnished by these systems allowed accountants to tally up time for hourly workers and disburse payments through ACH payments.
Fintech companies are collectively moving forward by implementing new features that expand payment options for businesses. New capabilities for these platforms will include salary on-demand to give users insights into how their pay stacks up for their role and region, salary advance that allows employees to request payment earlier when special circumstances arise, early direct deposit to get funds in employee hands faster, and crypto payroll that enables companies to issue payments as cryptocurrency.
To streamline these functions, fintech companies will build apps that connect workers to payroll systems. In doing so, a user can access tools like salary on-demand as well as submit requests for different payment arrangements when available.
Financial health scores. Much like a credit score, more banks will soon be offering tools that measure user’s financial health scores which you can learn more about through the link. These scores aim to profile a user’s financial situation based on several metrics and will likely be used internally to qualify customers for banking loans.
Once these scoring systems are better refined, they’ll be put to work in banking apps to help users make better decisions as part of a digital transformation strategy. For example, a financial health score working alongside banking bill pay systems can adjust outgoing payments to linked credit cards, raising the amount to save the user money from interest accrual or lower payments when they’re light on funds.
More robust banking-as-a-service (BaaS) platforms. When we think of payment processing, leaders like Stripe usually come to mind as they can securely integrate into websites and mobile apps to facilitate the secure exchange of funds. Today, we’re seeing a movement to create more feature-rich, modular systems that supply fintech and other platforms with more bank-like functions.
Leading the charge in this endeavor are companies like Stripe and newcomer, Moov. These BaaS systems enable fintech companies to handle transactions beyond their core service of supporting ACH with API functions for “wire transfers, interest-earning accounts, access to payments funds and other services …” Further, Moov’s open-source ecosystem further aims to standardize embedded payment infrastructure which will ultimately benefit everyone.
Soon, this technology will open doors for more advanced transaction processing in apps and websites by connecting to more financial products and accounts beyond standard checking and savings.
Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. A couple of major components needed for self-driving vehicles to function in the real world are high-bandwidth, low-latency connections through 5G as this is paramount for navigation and the ability to exchange data between other systems. V2X, which aims to bridge the concepts of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) concepts, will not only support autonomous travel but also become a staple for all vehicles in the future.
By using a dedicated, secure spectrum, vehicles will be able to communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure, and even pedestrians. The goal behind this technology is to improve safety by providing real-time data that communicates vehicle position and other parameters to nearby systems – for example, a vehicle equipped with V2X that manages to find itself in oncoming traffic would broadcast alerts to other nearby drivers to give them a heads up and in some cases, automatically initiate evasive action. Vehicles will also receive information from infrastructure which can communicate when there is traffic signal failure, accident, and other incidents that could impact travel.
Blockchain for transportation logistics. Unlike the scenario of using blockchain for healthcare as discussed earlier, the transportation industry could adopt this technology soon to improve commercial transportation as part of a functional digital transformation strategy.
One of the biggest challenges faced by those in the trucking businesses relates to the logs that they’re required to maintain which are used for several processes. Current systems on the market are highly fragmented which makes it especially difficult to share data with DoT – it’s also an administrative burden for some businesses that own a fleet but supplement their workforce with private contractors who often use different systems.
Blockchain-connected platforms would help users accomplish several tasks with transparent logging of data and more which you can dive into by following the link. Highly accessible data stored with blockchain would standardize logging efforts, improve freight tracking, enable real-time transmission of data to keep in good standing with DoT, reduce disputes, eliminate physical paperwork that plagues the industry, provide insights into performance, and much more. The many mobile logging apps used by commercial drivers could be easily redesigned to securely push and pull a majority of data from the blockchain rather than rely solely on connected databases.
We thrive on implementing new digital transformation trends into our products
Our agency welcomes opportunities for blue-sky thinking – we use all the tools at our disposal to pull grandeur ideas back to Earth to create cutting-edge products for digital marketplaces. Upcoming trends in the software world can vastly improve operations in the industries we discussed above and beyond. We welcome the opportunity to build upon or adjacent to these ideas as part of a digital transformation strategy for our clients: in doing so, such efforts will position your products above the competition. Get in touch if you’re in the market to capitalize on innovation!