Methods or techniques that produce superior results compared with alternatives are known as best practices. This isn’t a new concept, but what businesses might not realize is how drastically different best practices will be in the future.
Early in this decade, companies began adopting cloud-enabled business models based on large-scale incorporation of mobility, social input, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data. At that time, I realized that the “best practices” that organizations were using were based on old technology and were not designed for the new, cloud-enabled world.
In response, I wrote Modern Best Practice Explained, a 2014 ebook that clearly and simply identified and explained next-generation best practices and the huge gains in productivity that businesses could achieve with them.
Five years later, we’re anticipating even bigger changes. The original cloud enablers are being augmented with a whole host of new, pervasive, and scalable applications that use artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), blockchain, digital assistants (whether chatbots or voice bots), and augmented and/or virtual reality (AR/VR).
These advanced technologies are now mature, and they’re becoming more available and cost effective to adopt. Many people believe the coming wave of changes will be as big as the internet, and so, once again, I am reflecting on how best practices are changing—and predicting what they might be in the future—with Modern Best Practice — Predicted.
A lot about how these new technologies will affect the future is unknown, so it’s not possible to precisely predict how best practices for common processes will change. However, the disruption we’re already seeing makes it clear that many new jobs will be created, some old jobs will become irrelevant, and existing jobs will change dramatically as continuously advancing technologies automate more and more tasks.
Imagine a financial close period that takes only three steps. We see this as a new best practice, shrinking down from the eight-step best practice we identified in 2014:
(We’ve also released an updated best practice for supplier invoice to payment, which can you view here.)
Taking five steps out of a resource-intensive process such as this one is a substantial improvement, and remember — this will be happening to just about all workplace processes.
Think about the untapped talent that will be unleashed as people gain more time to focus on developing new ideas based on predictive analytics; designing new customer offerings based on previously unseen patterns in their data; and managing exceptions rather than maintaining the status quo.
But artificial intelligence, IoT, autonomous software, and blockchain won’t just change the workplace. Within the next decade, they’ll also change society in the same way cell phones have. Back in the flip-phone era of the early 2000s, people recognized disruption was afoot, but no one saw the magnitude of change that social networking and one-click ecommerce would cause.
Likewise, fast-moving and highly influential changes are coming from AI/ML, blockchain, and AR/VR. We know that, even if we don’t know completely what they are.
How exactly will things change?
The generally accepted opinion is that millions of jobs will start disappearing, but twice as many new jobs will be created to support new types of businesses, business models, and revenue streams. Think about all of the new businesses and jobs that have been created to analyze and execute search engine optimization (SEO) since the automation of internet search. Now imagine that happening with just about everything we now do manually.
It’s also expected that AI/ML-capable applications will be everywhere in the public and private sectors, and many tasks will be handled via touchless transactions. Imagine fully automated production lines, machinery and device maintenance, procurement, new-client or new-employee onboarding, and database security monitoring.
People will no longer need to focus on the physical transfer of energy or knowledge to create or maintain value; rather, they will add value by monitoring, analyzing, adjusting, improving, and inventing.
Finally, it’s become clear that the cloud will remain the foundational delivery mechanism of all relevant technologies. Not only is the cloud essential for access to emerging technologies, but it is also how organization will scale new models to incorporate them. Without the cloud, organizations will struggle to implement emerging technologies, data-driven processes and modeling, IoT connectivity, and other components of a modern best practice-based business strategy.