IDC's Top 10 Predictions: Brands Must Make Space For Digital Innovation & Implementation At Scale

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The future belongs to businesses that can rapidly scale the development and implementation of digital innovation, and those who can't will be left behind.

That's according to the recently-released IDC FutureScape: Top 10 Predictions for the Future of Digital Innovation report. Looking as far ahead as 2028, the IDC's Future of Connectedness predictions form part of the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Digital Innovation 2023 Predictions report. 

Enterprises are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic into a complex environment impacted by the threat of recession, ongoing inflation, war, and environmental disruptions. The more that businesses can stay in-step with digital innovation, the better they will fare as they look toward the volatile years ahead, IDC says. 

“If the pandemic didn't force an organization to pivot toward digital innovation, the multitude of current headwinds ranging from inflation to war should,” said Nancy Gohring, research director for IDC's Future of Digital Innovation agenda program. “Winners and losers in each sector will be determined by their ability to deliver digital innovation at scale — ethically, sustainably, and repeatedly.”

Pave The Way to a Data-Driven Future 

Delving into specifics, data – gathering it, analyzing it, and using it – appears again and again.

Prediction No. 2, for example, posits that
 by 2026, 10% of companies will successfully incentivize consumers to "share closely held data to devise nontraditional offerings, improve customer experience, and grow market share." Leading-edge brands are already exploring the possibilities offered by zero-party data.

In a recent conversation with CGT, healthcare company Haleon shared how its building the value exchange between consumer and company, using interactive and transparent methods – in the form of a vitamin quiz – to spur customers to share information of their own volition. 

Prediction No. 3 on the list suggests that in just over a year, 35% of businesses that “build innovative algorithms to glean intelligence from unique data sets will deliver successful new product offerings and pricing models and tap new customer segments.” 

This forecast chimes with broader sentiment among industry thought leaders. In a recent conversation at the Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit, industry leaders from Reckitt, Gogo SqueeZ, and Johnson & Johnson discussed how data sets can and should be used to provide a 360-degree view of both products and experiences that create return customers, while also garnering new brand evangelists. 

[See Also: Where’s the Real Potential In First-Party Data? Views from Coty, General Mills, and More

Simplicity, Resilience, Agility, Growth 

At prediction No. 6, the IDC says by 2026, 75% of market leaders will have "systemic, structured digital innovation programs and investments that support ongoing iterative innovation, enabling growth, scale, agility, and resilience." Innovations big and small will define the upcoming decade.

Looking out at the wider environment, giants like Unilever are not just aiming to go digital-first, but digital-only. The global consumer goods company announced recently it will have 95% of its business operations in the cloud by the end of this year. 

“There's still more to be done to become even more agile in responding to opportunities in these fast-changing markets and to fully exploit the clarity of accountability that the new organization brings," noted Unilever CEO Alan Jope at the time. "Our business groups are taking decisions more quickly and driving sharper strategic action and related resource allocation to drive growth.” 

Elsewhere on the list, data crops up again. Prediction No. 7 is that, by 2026, “companies that share data with business partners to leverage their collective data sets for new revenue potential will grow revenue 10% faster than those that don't.” The message is clear: Data will be the great differentiator in the future of business, but it’s important that enterprises also equip themselves with the resources and abilities to utilize data strategically.  

Everyone Will Be In Tech 

In terms of workforce predictions, IDC suggests non-tech workers will be increasingly involved in the digital transformation aspects of their companies. By 2027, IDC says the share of non-technology-focused workers who spend 10 hours or more a week contributing to digital innovation will jump from 5% today to almost half (45%).

Devoting time to digital innovation requires an increase both in skills and manpower. Whether leaders look internally or externally to find these workers, upskilling, career development and – based on the current volatility of tech employment – strategic talent sourcing will only get more complex and essential. 

IDC rounds out the list with a hint of potential controversy, predicting that “[i]n 2028, 15 large companies will make headlines for using digital technologies to manipulate customer experiences to spur upgrades and replacements.” 

It remains to be seen whether these projections prove true, but the forecasts remain defined by a number of key trends. At this make-or-break moment in time, success will depend on enterprises becoming equipped with the right data to become truly agile and drive digital innovation at scale. 

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