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I love this time of year because of the optimism I see in so many leaders about the potential to unlock new innovation in the coming year. If you’re like me, you’re reading up on predictions and trends that will shape innovation and technology over the coming years. In fact, I recently had a fun opportunity to share my insights on trends and predictions I’m tracking in the low-code and intelligent automation space. If you missed Pegasystems’ Next in Tech event, I was on a panel with Pega’s VP of Product Jeanette Barlowe. We talked about technology trends, but also dug into the trends transforming the way we work. I thought it would be helpful to follow up by going deeper on the trends I’m tracking and provide a framework for translating trends and predictions into real innovation outcomes.

  • Prediction #1: Companies Make The Shift From Digital Transformation To Human Transformation. Organizations are shifting their investments from digital transformation to human transformation. They’re figuring out how to transform their practices, keep remote teams engaged, and improve virtual collaboration.  They’re looking to level up their leadership to drive innovation. This doesn’t mean companies are investing less in digital. Instead, they’ve realized it’s more important to invest in people to drive consistent digital transformation.
  • Prediction #2: Low Code Becomes A Management Discipline. Low code is no longer just a platform. It’s a mode of working, a way of operating. It’s a management discipline that democratizes software across the organization. Low code can help management with governance, but it’s also changing management’s mindset. They see low code can create a more inclusive culture of software development. “Inclusive” probably makes you think about diversity. Diversity is part of it, but the inclusivity of low code is also about getting more people involved. Traditional developers and non-developers — pretty much everyone in any role can get involved and become a developer with low code.
  • Prediction #3: Intelligent Automation Moves Into The Metaverse. We’ve been hearing for years that augmented reality, a.k.a. the metaverse, was coming. Now we’re finally beginning to see the reality of it as a result of remote, distributed, and hybrid work. Teams are getting more things done in the metaverse, in virtual environments. I’m specifically interested in how the metaverse will affect automation and work. Which resources and processes do organizations need to adapt for metaverse-oriented transactions? How do you virtualize them? Keep an eye on this through 2022. Start thinking about how to adapt innovation to experiment with the metaverse.

Translate Predictions Into Reality

Now that I’ve shared the predictions I’m tracking for 2022, it’s time to build your game plan for translating these predictions into tangible outcomes for your organization. When I was an industry analyst, so many of the leaders I worked with took pride in reading predictions reports and loved to share the latest predictions at dinner parties. But those same leaders never took the time to map out a plan to execute on any of these predictions. Here’s how to build your game plan for prioritizing predictions you will focus on and translating them into reality:

  • Identify the two dimensions that are most important for your organization. Set the trends aside for a minute. Identify the two outcomes that will matter most in the next two to three years. One team we work with identified their dimensions as 1) improving employee experience and 2) increasing revenue.
  • Create and research a shortlist of trends. Which predictions jump out at you? List five to 10 trends you believe matter most for your organization and outcomes. Once you have your shortlist, distribute it to get feedback so you have some buy-in.
  • Plot the trends. Create a quadrant chart of your two dimensions. Then, plot the trends on that chart based on how impactful you think they’ll be. Think back to the team whose dimensions were employee experience and revenue. How would the metaverse’s impact on automation affect those dimensions? If it’s going to improve employee experience, it might map high. Will the metaverse impact revenue? It may map low. Mapping helps you prioritize trends by their impact on your chosen outcomes.
  • Run design sprints. Which trends map “high and to the right”? Run design sprints on the top three. Design sprints are a quick way to experiment with new ideas. During a design sprint, you build prototypes, which help validate whether it’s worth continuing to build  on an idea. Here’s a resource to help you run design sprints. Don’t skip this step. It’s so important to translate trends into prototypes that people can interact with.

We’ve created a worksheet to guide you through acting on trends and predictions. Use this worksheet to identify your top trends and build a playbook to translate them into tangible outcomes. I encourage you to spend some time on this worksheet, ideally with your team. Getting input, collaborating on prototypes, and creating a solid game plan you’ve all bought into will help you to kill it on innovation in 2022.