Technology has always altered the way we live, work and operate. Things and concepts that could only be imagined a few years ago are being readied for mass consumption today. To that effect, any resource and time spent to understand technology and its impact on our lives, contribute to better preparedness and planning for the future.
Accenture recently came out with the ‘Accenture Technology Vision 2018’ forecast, which predicts main technology trends that are likely to disrupt businesses over the next three years. An annually published forecast (developed by Accenture Labs and Accenture Research) for several years now, this year’s edition has been prepared by compiling data responses from thousands of executives from the business and IT sectors from all over the world.
The forecast titled, Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed: Redefine Your Company Based on the Company You Keep, highlights how rapid advancements in technologies – including Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and the cloud – are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live.
The Accenture Technology Vision forecast this year includes the following:
- Insights from the Technology Vision External Advisory Board (a group comprising of more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital firms and entrepreneurial companies).
- Interview responses from technology luminaries and industry experts, as well as with nearly 100 Accenture business leaders,
- The results of a global online survey conducted with over 6,300 business and IT executives across 25 countries and 18 industries
The forecast has helped in the identification of pressing issues and priorities for technology adoption and investment. In the following passages are given some of the critical results of the forecast:
Integration of Technology is Accelerating
The survey shows that more than four in five respondents (84 percent) are of the view that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the very fabric of how people live today. It goes on to explain this trend with the example of Amazon.
“Amazon – through not only its tremendous online presence but also its Echo device and AI assistant Alexa – has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives to a great extent Developers are building dedicated Amazon lockers into new apartment complexes and people are granting the company physical access to their homes via its smart lock system to let couriers make deliveries when no one is around.”
“Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society... Just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation – and, by extension, the companies that provide those services. This requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information.”-- Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology; innovation officer
Technology is interactive and more engaging than ever. The report says that although technological development has helped the society and civilization progress for decades now. This latest technological transformation is unique in that for the first time the change is a two-way street; people aren’t just using companies’ products and services, but feeding information and access back to them. And with this two-way partnership come new responsibilities – to consumers, business partners and to society at large, requiring leadership and commitment from the top.
Organisations that have understood the importance of building trust with their consumers and partners to interact with them more, will develop better partnerships in the future and also step beyond the purely business nature of their services to transform lives through the strength of enterprises. “Through these new partnerships with customers, employees and business collaborators, companies are building greater trust and further integrating themselves into society, becoming more indispensable and fueling their own growth,” Daugherty explains.
Effective Leaders will Help in Technological Integration
In the end, the report says that new age leaders that can build trust, accountability and a greater sense of responsibility, will be able to maximize these opportunities and create a lasting positive impact on the society. It says that new partnerships in the future will not be restricted to growth only, but also to cultivate a positive social impact.
The report explains the fostering of new partnerships as an essential role of the leaders and quotes examples of organizations that are already doing this. Tesla, for instance, is partnering with governments to accelerate the development of guidelines needed for autonomous vehicles.
Similarly, Siemens, by offering its MindSphere operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT), that can be used for various types of assets such as manufacturing devices, smart grid components or power generation equipment, is creating new partnerships and embedding itself into its business partners’ architectures.
The forecast identified the following five critical emerging technology trends that organizations must take into account if they want to be equipped to rise to digital challenges:
1. Citizen AI: Raising AI to Benefit Business and Society
As artificial intelligence (AI) grows in its capabilities, so does its impact on people’s lives. Businesses looking to capitalize on AI’s potential must acknowledge this impact, “raising” AI to act as responsible representatives of their industry.
2. Extended Reality: The End of Distance
Virtual and augmented reality technologies are transforming the ways people live and work by removing the distance to people, information, and experiences.
3. Data Veracity: The Importance of Trust
By transforming themselves to use big data, businesses now face a new kind of vulnerability. Inaccurate, manipulated and biased data that leads to corrupted business insights and skewed decisions. To address this challenge, companies must follow a dual mandate to maximize veracity and minimize incentives for data manipulation.
4. Frictionless Business: Built to Partner at Scale
Businesses depend on technology-based partnerships for growth, but their own legacy systems aren’t designed to support partnerships at scale. To fully power the connected Intelligent Enterprise, companies must first re-design themselves.
5. Internet of Thinking: Creating Intelligent Distributed Systems
Businesses are making big bets on intelligent environments via robotics, AI, and immersive experiences, but bringing these intelligent environments to life will require not only adding key skills and workforce capabilities, but also modernizing current enterprise technology infrastructures.
The forecast concludes, “Businesses are leveraging the rapid advancements in technology to embed themselves throughout society. These innovations are blurring the lines between business and personal – and blazing a new trail for future enterprise growth.” The forecast is a timely reminder to the workforce and world at large, that we are on the verge of radically changing the way we live. Like most changes, this change will be inclusive and beneficial, if it is undertaken in a phased manner by leaders who know what they are doing.