Business Must Embrace and Master New Technologies

A new report by Accenture Technology, a global professional services company, suggests that, in 2016, people will play a key role in harnessing the new organizational direction and vision that will be required as a result of a continued inflow of disruptive technologies.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and intelligent automation are prime examples of technologies that will continue to affect organizations in disruptive ways that will make it essential for organizations to embrace and master change, according to Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture.

“A lot of this is going to be about new ways of operating,” he says. “The challenge for companies is that the technology is moving so fast and it is still really in the early days. The problem is that many organizations are in a state of digital culture shock.”

Accenture Technology’s report, “Vision 2016: Executive Summary,” is based on a global survey of more than 3,100 business and IT executives from October through December 2015. The executives come from nearly a dozen countries, including Australia, Germany, India and the United States.

The report shows that 58 percent of respondents expect the pace of technology to increase rapidly in their industry within the next three years, while 28 percent expect it to increase at an unprecedented rate. Only one percent expect the pace to stay the same, while another one percent think it will decrease.

Daugherty says that many companies are challenged with absorbing these new technologies, while as the same time figuring out how to do more and what to do next. “Unfortunately, I don’t think there is the opportunity for organizations to take a breather,” he adds. “One way to look at it is, How can you hack the culture of your company?”

Five Essential Trends Affecting Enterprises

The report identified five trends that will be important in 2016. They include a liquid workforce, digital risk, intelligent automation, a platform economy and predictable disruption.

Of these trends, Daugherty went into deeper explanation about the liquid workforce, saying it not only includes members of Generation Z—whose members grew up with mobile phones and social media and have new ideas about the workforce—but also a change in business models toward cross-sourcing, outsourcing and freelancing. Organizations will increasingly rely on freelance and contract employees so that they can better meet their own organizational needs and build a more dynamic and fluid workforce.

The liquid workforce trend also refers to the ways in which people in organizations will collaborate on projects in new and different ways, Daugherty says. As a result of new ways of doing things, team members across the globe will be able to more quickly move through projects at an efficient, symbiotic pace. “It will be ‘flash’ style kinds of projects, very fluid all the way through,” he adds.

Daugherty also referenced the trend of digital risk, which encompasses digital trust and the idea that the relationships companies have with their customers are so “pervasive and invasive that a new level of trust is required.” He says there needs to be an examination into relationships with customers and the benefits that are derived from that trust.

“Just because you can do something with a customer’s data doesn’t mean that you should do something,” he points out.

The report also includes an example of a successful organization that is moving past the digital shock: Virgin America, the sole airline to be based in Silicon Valley. The company has experimented with re-visiting the best strategies for the purchase of tickets and with collaborating with frequent flyers through a petition to get two gates allocated at Dallas Love Field.

While being in Silicon Valley is not necessary for technological mastery, organizations may want to look at co-locating people to tech hot spots—or even at new ways of building partnerships, according to Daugherty. “It needs to start with the leadership,” he says. “It’s not just about injecting technology into the back office. It’s about changing the business model of the company going forward.”