Accenture Technology Vision 2020: The Focus Must Be on People

Even though people are embedding more and more technology into their lives, organizations’ attempts to meet their needs and expectations can fall short. Thus, it has to be all about what people want, not what companies want.

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New York-based Accenture is on the daily front lines of IT transformation as one of the most respected integrators anywhere in the world. When this company releases a state-of-the-union report, as it did on Feb. 12, you know it’s going to be complete and relevant to IT decision-makers and their real-world issues. The research resulted from a global online survey of 6,074 business and IT executives.

In its “Technology Vision 2020” report, Accenture this year has pointed to the importance of the human element in creating effective digital systems for both enterprise employees and customers.

Of the executives worldwide that Accenture surveyed for the Technology Vision report, 83% acknowledge that technology has become an inextricable part of the human experience. As part of the research this year, Accenture also surveyed 2,000 consumers—70% of whom expect their relationship with technology to be more or significantly more prominent over the next three years.

Business Value That Aligns With Customers' Values

Even though people are embedding more and more technology into their lives, organizations’ attempts to meet their needs and expectations can fall short. To compete and succeed in a world where digital is everywhere, the consultancy said, companies need to create business value that aligns with their customers’ and employees’ values and expectations.

“Dazzled by the promise of technology, many organizations created digital products and services just because they could, without fully considering the human, organizational and societal consequences,” Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology & innovation officer, said in a media advisory. “Today we’re seeing a tech-clash caused by the tension between consumer expectations, the potential of technology, and business ambitions—and are now at an important leadership inflection point. We must shift our mindset from ‘just because’ to ‘trust because’—reexamining our fundamental business and technology models and creating a new basis for competition and growth.”

The 20th edition of Accenture’s annual report predicts the key technology trends that will redefine businesses during the next three years. Here are five key trends that companies must address over next three years to realize new forms of business value that will be driven in part by stronger, more trusting relationships with stakeholders:

  • The I in Experience. Organizations will need to design personalized experiences that amplify an individual’s agency and choice. This turns passive audiences into active participants by transforming one-way experiences—which can leave people feeling out of control and out of the loop—into true collaborations. Five in six business and IT executives surveyed (85%) believe that competing successfully in this new decade requires organizations to elevate their relationships with customers as partners.
  • AI and Me. Artificial intelligence (AI) should be an additive contributor to how people perform their work, rather than a backstop for automation. As AI capabilities grow, enterprises must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process, with trust and transparency at its core. Currently, only 37% of organizations report using inclusive design or human-centric design principles to support human-machine collaboration.
  • The Dilemma of Smart Things. Assumptions about who owns a product are being challenged in a world entering a state of “forever beta.” As enterprises seek to introduce a new generation of products driven by digital experiences, addressing this new reality will be critical to success. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of executives report that their organization’s connected products and services will have more, or significantly more, updates over the next three years.
  • Robots in the Wild. Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. With 5G poised to rapidly accelerate this fast-growing trend, every enterprise must rethink its future through the lens of robotics. Executives are split in their views of how their employees will embrace robotics: 45% say their employees will be challenged to figure out how to work with robots, while 55% believe that their employees will easily figure out how to work with them.
  • Innovation DNA. Enterprises have access to an unprecedented amount of disruptive technology, such as distributed ledgers, AI, extended reality and quantum computing. To manage it all—and evolve at the speed demanded by the market today—organizations will need to establish their own unique innovation DNA. Three-quarters (76%) of executives believe that the stakes for innovation have never been higher, so getting it “right” will require new ways of innovating with ecosystem partners and third-party organizations.

Disrupters are already taking steps to address the gap between people’s expectations and today’s standards. For example, startup Inrupt is working on a data-linking architecture called Solid, which is designed to give people more control over their personal information by allowing them to store and use their data across the web through “pods.” People could decide where their pods are hosted and determine which companies or machines can access them—revoking or deleting their information at any time, catalyzing Inrupt co-founder Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of a web of opportunity for everyone. 

This is precisely the kind of human-centered approach that will define leading organizations in the future.

For 20 years, Accenture has taken a systematic look across the enterprise landscape to identify emerging technology trends that hold the greatest potential to disrupt businesses and industries. To read this year’s report, go here.

About Accenture

Accenture describes itself as working “at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders.” The company provides a wide range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations across more than 40 industries and all business functions—all running on the world’s largest delivery network.

The company employs about 505,000 people and serves clients in more than 120 countries. Go here for more information.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...