There’s been a lot of talk about “tech-lash,” or pushback against technology. But the facts don’t bear this out: people are using technology more than ever. According to the Technology Vision Consumer Survey, 52% of consumers say that technology plays a prominent role or is ingrained into almost all aspects of their day-to-day lives. In fact, 19% report that technology is so intertwined with their lives that they view it as an extension of themselves. Globally, people spend an average of 6.4 hours online daily.1 Digital technology is everywhere.
Rather than a tech-lash, what we’re seeing is a tech-clash. People don’t oppose technology; they remain excited and intrigued by it. But businesses are developing and deploying that technology using the playbooks of decades past, from the days before tech had such a major, meaningful impact in our lives. For example, too many companies still have closed ecosystems that can make experiences disjointed. They apply artificial intelligence solutions to decision-making without transparency, leaving people out of the loop on decisions that directly affect their lives. And privacy and security concerns around the troves of valuable data people produce can lead to hesitation and distrust.
Navigating tech-clash is a key challenge for C-Suite leaders in the next decade. Up until now, businesses have largely benefitted from following the technology roadmap laid out by digital pioneers. Now, digital technology is evolving from an advantage to a basic expectation—and yesterday’s best practices are turning into today’s shortcomings. Companies must deliver more human-focused experiences, in line with what people have come to expect.
This means that the way forward can be guided by people’s expectations, but there is no one roadmap. The success of the next generation of products and services will rest on companies’ ability to elevate the human experience, adapting to the world they’ve created.
None of the steps on the journey are incremental changes, nor are they as simple as finding the next technological tool to do what you’re already doing today. Leading in the future will demand rethinking core assumptions about how an enterprise works and redefining the intersection between people and technology.
Tech Vision 2020 Trends
The new models that organizations must build to overcome tech-clash share one thing: they are based on collaboration. Successful business leaders will invite customers, employees, partners and the public to build their new course for the future together. We see five trends that exemplify this:
- The I in Experience – Leading businesses are working with customers to create digital experiences. People still want the many benefits of customization, but they are growing concerned about some of the methods companies use to deliver it. They want the ability to make relevant choices that inform their experiences and to change the experience when companies get it wrong. The rise of 5G and augmented reality (AR) put more pressure on leaders to make this a reality.
- AI and Me – The full potential of AI has moved beyond being a mere automation of simple tasks to being a powerful collaboration tool between human employees and machines. Successful businesses will understand the importance of context in human-machine interaction and introduce new tools that will help them understand each other better. This will position them to reimagine all aspects of their entire business from the ground up.
- The Dilemma of Smart Things – The very notion of product ownership is radically changing. When people buy products, they are in many cases no longer purchasing physical, finished items but conduits for evolving experiences. Companies must recognize this new “co-ownership” paradigm with customers and work to design their products and ecosystems to accommodate ongoing change.
- Robots in the Wild – Robots are moving out of the warehouse and factory into the larger world, helped along by falling hardware costs and the rise of 5G networks. As businesses extend their robotic capabilities into the open world, they will have to hire new talent and work with the public to ensure a smooth transition.
- Innovation DNA – Businesses can transform how they innovate by focusing on three key building blocks of their company’s innovation DNA: maturing digital technologies, scientific advancements and emerging DARQ technologies (distributed ledger tech (DLT), artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR) and quantum computing). They can constantly inject new skills, tech and ideas in these areas through innovation hubs, centers of excellence and co-innovation partnerships.
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1 Salim, S. (2019, February 4). More Than Six Hours of Our Day Is Spent Online. Digital Information World.