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Digital disruption will accelerate, AI will go mainstream and the customer will take center stage in the 2020s as a new wave of technology innovation transforms workflows, value chains and entire industries. New technologies will collapse industry boundaries, wiping out sectors and functions, according to Louis Hernandez Jr., Founder, Managing Director and CEO of Black Dragon Capital. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

Every business will be in direct contact with customers and will be forced to master customer intimacy. The pace of change will grow ever faster, and once-dominant technologies will be overwhelmed and replaced. Hernandez foresees several major developments for the short term - for example:

  1. Technologies and processes get disrupted, quickly
    Going forward there will be little or no "daylight" between content creator and consumer; the purveyor of goods or services and the buyer; the person with excess capital and the person in need of capital. Technologies that had made the value chain more efficient or powerful will be overwhelmed in every industry by the direct digital connection between buyer and seller. 2020 will mark the beginning of the end for a number of segments of major industries - once celebrated technologies that made a step or process more efficient will be gone by the end of the decade.
  2. A heightened imperative to master customer intimacy
    Because traditional workflows will vanish and because most sellers of goods and services will increasingly have relationships with end-user customers, companies will have to rethink and redefine for themselves what good service is. Believing you are only a business-to-business enterprise will be dangerous - and a thing of the past.
  3. Significant blurring of industry boundaries
    Where industries like media, retail and banking begin and end will get grayer and blurrier. Companies in each of those industries will want to be the customer's primary relationships: card and payment networks, cell phone carriers, cloud providers, retailers, media companies all will want your primary intimacy and loyalty for whatever you buy. Loyalty will go to whoever can best tell the story of why what they're selling will make the customer's life better.
  4. Floodgates open for cloud-based technologies
    Early adopters drove Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Azure to dizzying heights. Now the media industry, banking and retail will become major consumers of processing power as cloud-based technology goes even more mainstream. Legacy players that are slow to move to the cloud will likely meet the same fate as Sears and Toys'R'Us.
  5. AI goes mainstream
    While debates continue about privacy, data management and computational innovation, AI is gaining significant traction in a range of industries. It has proved its ability to support medical diagnoses, identify fraud better and more accurately and enhance content creation. In the 2020s, we'll see AI become as powerful as the internet itself and, of course, supplant other once-promising technologies.

"When it comes to our new decade and where technology is going, the opportunity is vast, the challenge is immense and the rewards may far outweigh the collateral damage," Hernandez concluded.