Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology &
Innovation Officer at Accenture
Within the last year, we’ve experienced no small degree of change globally, and if there is perhaps one thing most people can agree upon, it is that we have much more change ahead of us. I’ve been reflecting on this with an eye to the future.
We are living in truly amazing times, poised for the most significant era of technological advancement since the dawn of the information age ̶ an era where technology can fundamentally transform the way we work and live unleashing tremendous opportunity, as well as difficult challenges we must address. There is no doubt in my mind that the impact of technology innovations can be positive, because the power lies with us ̶ with people. We’re in control and are adapting technology to fit our needs, large and small. We call this fundamental shift “Technology for People,” and it’s the focus of our 2017 technology trends report, the Accenture Technology Vision.
Case in point: Advances such as connected healthcare aren’t an improvement because of the technology itself. The draw is the empowerment it gives individuals over their own health. Companies like Philips and CVS are leading because their technology strategy focuses on the needs of the individual patient, on their terms. Through emerging technology like apps and connected devices that integrate into people’s lives, these companies allow doctors and nurses to build a closer, more personal relationship with each patient – and provide more comprehensive care.
Today, we launchthe Technology Vision, our yearly report identifying top IT trends that will impact organizations in the next three years. The theme “Technology for People, by People” runs through the Tech Vision because we see these trends as helping usher in a new era of invention and human amplification that will unleash unimagined levels of creativity, ingenuity and productivity.
What’s different about this year from previous years of digital disruption? New business models, driven by innovations in platform and ecosystem models are enabling services to be delivered in entirely new ways. We are introducing new innovations in artificial intelligence that are delivering whole new levels of personalization with technology anticipating our needs in unprecedented ways. Innovative architectures like blockchainare creating new ways to trust and secure interactions. As we look to the future, Quantum computing’s near-unlimited processing and algorithmic power will solve difficult problems in entirely new ways and smarter machines will work side-by-side with people in every discipline. Companies now have an opportunity to rethink and reestablish their place in the next evolution of business and society. These are just a few of the advances driving the Technology for People era. And this thinking is the foundation for our five tech trends:
•AI Is the New UI: Experience Above All. Artificial intelligence is coming of age in a big way in 2017. We’re already seeing people use AI technologies to tackle big problems and for smaller things that make our daily lives simpler, more convenient and, of course, smarter. This year, we’ll see AI become the new user interface (UI)—underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems.
•Ecosystem Power Plays: Beyond Platforms. Platform companies like Uber and Airbnb have completely broken the rules for how companies operate and compete by inventing platform models that provide a single point to access multiple services. Today, companies don’t just need a platform strategy, they need a rich and robust ecosystem approach if they want to lead in this new era of intelligence.
•Workforce Marketplace: Invent Your Future. An increase in on-demand labor platforms and online work management solutions is driving companies to reinvent their workforces, dissolving traditional hierarchies and replacing them with a corporate marketplace model. The future workforces of intelligent enterprises are designed for people: employees, freelancers and crowdsourced workers who participate together in an open talent exchange.
•Design for Humans: Inspire New Behaviors. We have reached an exciting new frontier in customer experiences: today we are designing technologies so that they adapt to how we behave as humans. This is a huge shift away from us having to learn how to use technology—instead we are now teaching it to enhance our lives, making our lives richer and more fulfilling.
•The Uncharted: Invent New Industries, Set New Standards. We’re seeing leaders going into totally uncharted territory. Instead of the past when businesses focused on introducing new products and services into the market, today they’re thinking much bigger: they’re creating new digital industries, which comes with newfound responsibilities to define the associated regulations, standards and ethical norms.
Companies are beginning to redefine their relationship with customers from providers to partners – from providers of products, services and technologies to partners who see customer goals as their own business goals. This represents a fundamental shift. By creating partnerships with people, enterprises have a new opportunity to create long-term loyalty and lasting value for customers.
One company that exemplifies this is CVS Health that has transformed from the corner store that fills prescriptions to a provider of affordable basic healthcare services, deeply embedded in their customers’ lives. With the company’s smartwatch-compatible mobile app, customers can set personalized reminders for taking their medication, snap pictures of their prescriptions to expedite refills, and scan their insurance card so that store clerks are prepared with up-to-date information. At the CVS-operated Minute Clinics, customers can receive treatment for minor illnesses, flu shots and cholesterol screenings – all of which can be booked and paid for online. CVS is also partnering with telemedicine services like Teladoc so patients can receive care via phone or video chat. This example illustrates the redefined relationship between enterprises and customers. It’s not just about providing traditional services faster, or even in a more digital way. It’s about thinking about people – what they need today and in the future – and helping them achieve their goals.
It’s incumbent upon us as leaders and citizens to ensure that we take the right actions – individually and collectively – to shape a positive future for all. We need to revisit and reinvent our education systems to prepare people for the era of intelligence, not the industrial and information ages. We need to focus on Responsible AI – directing technology and businesses to be human-centric, transparent, accountable and fair. We need to explore new workforce and business models that create growth and opportunity for all people. And we need to ensure that we have the right security measures in place to protect people and foster trust at all levels of society and business.With great opportunity comes great responsibility. And it’s our responsibility to apply Technology for People. My personal challenge to all leaders is to embrace this obligation to ensure that the opportunities we envision become reality. Let’s continue to dream big, and take the actions needed to make sure that everyone participates in and benefits from the innovations we are creating.