Accenture published their annual prediction of the technology trends that will shape the future of companies in the next three years. According to Accenture Technology Vision 2017, an annual report that predicts the most significant technology trends over the next three years, people hold the power to shape and apply technology to create positive change, improve lives, and transform business and society.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2017 report is a continuation of research that follows the evolution of technology and Accenture’s vision beginning in 2013:
- 2013 – Every business is a digital business
- 2014 – From digitally disrupted to digital disruptor
- 2015 – Digital business era: stretch your boundaries
- 2016 – People first: primacy of people in the digital age
- 2017 – Technology for people: the era of the intelligent enterprise
The theme for this year’s vision is ‘Technology for People: The Era of the Intelligent Enterprise’. This builds on last year’s theme of ‘People First’. The focus for 2017-2020 is about ‘how technology can augment and enhance our human skills to listen more closely to customers and employees, connect to them on their own terms and partner with them to achieve personal goals’.
The report notes that the digital revolution is an age of human empowerment and designing technology that conforms itself to people putting us firmly in control of own fate. Areas of practice that once seemed impossible to digitize are fundamentally changing because of the impacts of AI, Internet of Things and big data analytics. The evolution of video for example is empowering people and transforming businesses. Facebook and Periscope deliver live culture and allow anyone to broadcast what they want, and tune in when they want – on their terms.
As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 5,400 business and IT executives worldwide. Nearly nine in 10 respondents (86 percent) said that while individual technologies are rapidly advancing, it is the multiplier effect of these technologies that is creating innovation breakthroughs.
“The pace of technology change is breathtaking, bringing about the biggest advancements since the dawn of the Information Age,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer. “As technology transforms the way we work and live, it raises important societal challenges and creates new opportunities. Ultimately, people are in control of creating the changes that will affect our lives, and we’re optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies.”
The path to leadership is in amplifying people, on a global and individual scale.
The research notes that ‘the power of the hyper-personalization that technology now makes possible drives goals both at the level of the entire industries, and the level of the individual’. Research conducted by Salesforce also indicates that in the age of the connected customer, the new digital business currencies are personalization, immediacy and intelligence.
“As a business, becoming a true partner to people – both customers and employees – starts with technology. Putting the power in the hands of customers and employees is the best way to do it.”
The first step to empowering people – providing technology that works with them
There are three pillars to empowering people:
1. Adapting technology to people – designing technology that works for people, not because of them.
2. Aligning goals to people’s goals – businesses must adopt people’s goals as their own. To become a true partner, companies will need to shift their thinking, and replace the immediate sales goals of the past with the goals that customers and employees have for themselves.
3. The people first approach to business and technology – whether it’s customers or employees, their goals must come first. It’s about technology helping people as it becomes more human. Technology is an agent of change – and now it can empower people in an interactive, collaborative way, on each individual’s own terms.
Changing goals means changing roles – as technology becomes a trusted colleague, the line between business and personal endeavors fades. Companies will become partners with customers and employees, and with the rising ecosystem of businesses beyond their own walls. The re-imagined relationship isn’t business. It’s personal. – Accenture Technology Vision 2017
“Taking a People First approach to business and technology requires deeper intelligence at all levels of the enterprise – from strategy through operations. Every decision about technology implementation, ecosystem relationships, workforce enablement, behavior design, and industry expansion must be made with people in mind – both on an individual and societal basis. Our report highlights the companies forging ahead in each of these areas and providing inspiration to us all.” - Paul Daugherty
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging trends that are essential to business success in today’s digital economy:
1. AI is the new UI – Experience above all. Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming of age, tackling problems both big and small by making interactions simple and smart. AI is about to become a company’s digital spokesperson. AI is becoming the new user interface (UI), underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents agree that AI will revolutionize the way they gain information from and interact with customers.
With projections of 6 billion smartphone users and over 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the next generation customer experience will be powered by artificial intelligence. We are in the age of the customer, and marketers who embrace AI technologies will have a significant advantage in delivering the next generation customer experience.
2. Design for Humans – Inspire new behaviors. Technology design decisions are being made by humans, for humans. Technology adapts to how we behave and learns from us to enhance our lives, making them richer and more fulfilling. Eighty percent of executives surveyed agree that organizations need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be — and shape technology to act as their guide to realize desired outcomes.
Customer experience is the new battlefield for competitive differentiation.
3. Ecosystems as Macrocosms – unleash the power of us. Platform companies that provide a single point of access to multiple services have completely broken the rules for how companies operate and compete. Companies don’t just need a platform strategy, they need a rich and robust ecosystem approach to lead in this new era of intelligence. Already, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of executives surveyed reported that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value.
4. Workforce Marketplace – invent your future. Driven by a surge of on-demand labor platforms and online work management solutions, legacy models are being dissolved and replaced with open talent marketplace. The number of on-demand labor platforms and online work-management solutions is surging. As a result, leading companies are dissolving traditional hierarchies and replacing them with talent marketplaces, which in turn is driving the most profound economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Case in point: Eighty-five percent of executives surveyed said they plan to increase their organization’s use of independent freelance workers over the next year.
5. The Uncharted – invent new industries, set new standards. Businesses are not just creating new products and services, they’re shaping new digital industries. To succeed in today’s ecosystem-driven digital economy, businesses must delve into uncharted territory. Instead of focusing solely on introducing new products and services, they should think much bigger — seizing opportunities to establish rules and standards for entirely new industries. In fact, 74 percent of the executives surveyed said that their organization is entering entirely new digital industries that have yet to be defined.
The Technology Vision 2017 research led with Artificial Intelligence as the first trend. “AI already plays a variety of roles throughout the user experience. In the work place, AI also helps companies make complicated technologies approachable, unlocking new capabilities,” Accenture.
AI defines future customer experience – “As AI takes over more of the user experience, it grows beyond just an intelligent interface. With each customer interaction becoming more personalized, powerful, and natural, AI moves into an even more prominent position: your digital spokesperson,” Accenture. The power of augmented intelligence and AI is mass personalization at scale.
AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035. – Accenture
“Instead of interacting with one person at a time like a human representative, an AI system can interact with an infinite number of people at once, based on the skills built for it. Not only can AI create and maintain a powerful, 100% consistent brand experience through every interaction, but it can also use learning capabilities to tailor that experience to each individual, and rapidly evolve the experience to react to any new product or strategy the enterprise wants to implement. This is a level of control that businesses have never had over their brands – with a new dimension of flexibility as well.” Accenture Technology Vision 2017
Every business is an AI powered business
“It’s time for the C-suite to fundamentally re-examine how people interact not just with technology, but also with their business. That approach will be critical as AI takes on the primary role of interacting with both your customers and employees. AI will be a key point of distinction for your business versus competitors, and so must be considered a core competency demanding of C-level investment and strategy. Much more than just another technology tool to help increase efficiency or generate value, AI is no longer about how your company does things – it’s who you are.” – Accenture Technology Vision 2017
Artificial Intelligence (AI) predictions:
- In five years, more than half of your customers will select your services based on your AI instead of your traditional brand.
- In seven years, most interfaces will not have a screen and will be integrated into daily tasks.
- In 10 years, digital assistants will be so pervasive they’ll keep employees productive 24/7/365, operating in the background for workplace interactions, like creating video summaries right after an important meeting.
Ecosystems as Macrocosms predictions:
- In five years, the majority of customers will be purchasing goods or services through a digital ‘middle man’ – such as messaging platforms, connected devices, or smart assistants.
- Five years from now, 80% of the S&P 500 will be engaged in multiple industry ecosystems, and most will have made public statements about increasing their reliance on ecosystems for future revenue growth.
- In seven years’ time, an industry leader from today will have transformed into an ecosystem company spanning multiple markets. The enterprise will lie at the center of a disruptive ecosystem, holding no physical headquarters and few permanent staff. Their highest-valued asset will be a digital platform.
Workforce market place predictions:
- In the next five years, on-demand labor platforms will emerge as a primary driver of economic growth in developed and emerging economies worldwide.
- Within five years, all industries will have new, dominant leaders with business structures based on small cores and powerful ecosystems. Incumbent corporations still carrying the burden of legacy bureaucratic models will experience rapid deterioration of market power.
- In five years or less, the presumptive judgments around full-time employment and freelancers will flip completely. Compared to traditional full-time employment, talent marketplaces will provide workers with improved earning opportunities, more rewarding work, secure benefits, and respected credentials.
- By 2022, the traditional purpose of industrial era corporations and management models will be replaced, having been displaced by digitally connected marketplaces.
The unchartered (invent new industries, set new standards) predictions:
- Within three years, the new normal for businesses with mature digital strategies will be to operate across currently siloed industries as Tesla does today. For these companies, industry boundaries will vanish, and each new endeavor will amplify disruption.
- By 2020, there will be entire ecosystems requiring the use of smart contracts in order to participate.
- Within five years, new performance-based contracts – taking the form of ‘if/then/else’ between two or more parties – will exclusively be smart contracts that self-govern and self-execute.
- In five years’ time, there will be numerous instances globally where governments will cede rule-making authority to industry groups or, minimally, enact regulations that were designed by an industry consortium.
“The world will continue to evolve, but leading enterprises that embrace this deeper dive into a People First mindset will find benefits at every scale. Across every industry, at every level of business, the one thing every company has in common is their people.” – Accenture
For more information on this year’s report, visit www.accenture.com/technologyvision or follow the conversation on Twitter with #TechVision2017.