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The traditional relationship between businesses and people is changing. Successful companies are bringing a human focus to their digital interactions, designing a truly collaborative digital experience. Look at Netflix, empowering viewers to make real-time decisions to determine the story in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
This shift reflects people’s evolving expectations. It’s clear that people want rich, customized digital experiences. But they have grown disillusioned by the legacy methods used by most companies to deliver them. Models that served businesses well in the early days of the digital age have led them to inadvertently take more and more control away from individuals. Existing customization methods based on robust data gathering and analytics are failing to provide the transparency, or the agency, that consumers want. And it’s not just customers. Cooperative digital experiences are also helping companies re-imagine their partnerships with employees and other stakeholder groups.
66% of consumers report they are just as concerned about the commercial use of their personal data and online identity for personalization purposes as they are about security threats and hackers.”
The companies that take the right actions today with cooperative digital experiences are setting themselves up for future success. As 5G and augmented reality (AR) become widespread, their significant impact on experience delivery will make balancing customization and user agency even more critical. Together, 5G and AR will enable businesses to tailor people’s digital journeys throughout their lives, anywhere and anytime. With this omnipresence comes even greater responsibility to get it right; for the companies that do, there will be huge opportunities.
Leaders have successfully adopted AI tools and practices that speed up the automation of basic tasks in existing workflows. But this is now table stakes. The true potential of AI in the enterprise lies in using it as a collaboration tool with humans: to not only efficiently execute tasks but also transform what businesses actually do.
It means smart chatbots interacting with customers as they do now, but being able to better understand the nuances and underlying possibilities of a customer’s request. For example, instead of just responding to a passenger’s question about whether they can bring crutches on board, an airline chatbot might flag the likely mobility issue, offer wheelchair assistance at the airport, and even check the itinerary to see if an easier connection is available. Meanwhile, based on the information the chatbot can gather, human agents are better prepared to offer assistance and improve the experience.
76% of executives agree that organizations need to dramatically reengineer the experiences that bring technology and people together in a more human-centric manner.”
In some cases, AI can approach problems the same way as successful disrupters: its judgment isn’t clouded by decades of previous experience or inherent biases, and it hasn’t yet learned what not to try. But this huge advantage requires human assistance to really take off, in the form of people partners helping to steward, direct and refine what the AI comes up with.
How can businesses today begin building this capability? To facilitate true human and AI collaboration, they need to find ways to replace a “command and response” relationship between human and machine with an experience that is interactive, exploratory and adaptable.
This starts with effective communication. Because of advancements in natural language processing (NLP), machines are beginning to better understand the context of language, instead of just the content.
Understanding physical context is also game-changing for AI’s ability to work with humans in extended reality (XR) environments. Image recognition and machine learning allow AI to not just see its surroundings, but understand them.
It goes the other way as well, with humans being better able to understand machines. Explainable AI allows people to open up previously “black-box” AI systems to get at how the machine made a particular decision.
Ultimately, better human machine interactions will lead to businesses being able to reinvent and constantly improve the offerings and experiences their customers want. When steps are taken to improve communication between machines and humans, the result is that AI becomes much more than just another tech tool. It’s an agent of change in the business.
In the digital era, everything is connected. The internet of things (IoT) market is expected to grow to 75.44 billion connected devices by 2025, with a projected market value of $1.1 trillion by 2026.
To unlock the full value of this opportunity, businesses need to confront the “beta burden,” and the unintended consequences that occur when smart tech – smart products, and the experiences they contain – are constantly in flux. Companies can now change the functionality of smart products or reconfigure their ecosystem over time. But they have to make sure that the customer experience remains consistent and supported throughout all these changes. Customers expect nothing less.
The upside of “forever beta” products is clear: companies that can respond to changing customer demands and expectations in real time become true partners. The value of the product then grows. But in the flurry of constant updates and changes, customers can get left behind and frustrated. Companies must update their understanding of what product ownership means in the post-digital era and change their practices as a result.
79% of executives believe their industry is moving toward offering more variety in ownership models for their connected products and/or services.”
They have to reconsider how the entire organization develops, delivers and supports its outputs. Evolutions in recent years in the enterprise engineering space point the way. More flexible processes and things like application programming interfaces (APIs) have allowed companies to evolve over time. To overcome the beta burden, they will have to bring this mindset into every aspect of the enterprise, from sales, to customer support, development, design and more.
Doing so will help retain customer loyalty going forward by ensuring smooth transitions from one generation of smart products to the next.
Companies have already realized the benefits of robotics in controlled spaces, from lower production costs to higher productivity and increased capacity for analytics. Now, businesses are looking at the next frontier for robot technology: the open world.
Advances in sensors, speech recognition and computer vision are combining with lower hardware costs to make robot technology more accessible for companies in every industry, and the rollout of 5G networks is set to unlock new opportunities outside of controlled environments. But finding the right way to introduce robots into the world includes challenges around talent, questions of human-computer interaction and a testbed that consists of the entire world.
Across 21 industries surveyed, 61% of executives expect their organizations will use robotics in uncontrolled environments within the next two years.“
For instance, not every company will be able to find the talent they need as demand for robotics technicians and data scientists grows. Finding the right expertise will require a strategic combination of hiring and upskilling efforts.
Taking robotics out into the open world will also force companies to consider how the public is affected by their products and services. It’s important that businesses work with local leadership to ensure a safe and welcome convergence between robots and society.
48% of consumers surveyed believe robots are poised to make their lives easier. However, 39% state they are concerned robots will introduce more problems than they fix.“
Finally, a massive robotic migration will demand a combined approach to development and testing. Experimentation will be key as the technology is introduced to city streets, university campuses, construction sites, and other uncontrolled environments. It will also require a commitment to continued data collection and refinement after the devices have been deployed.
However, if the past has shown us anything, the benefits will far outweigh the investment. Businesses with experience in robotics may start out with an advantage, but the opportunity is ripe for companies in every industry to extend their reach out into the open world.
Companies, like humans, are unique. Each relies on a code that helps determine how it will grow. Similar to human DNA, which stacks chemical building blocks, a company’s innovation DNA is made up of three building blocks: maturing digital technology that is more commoditized and accessible; scientific advancements that push the boundaries of industries and inspire change; and emerging DARQ (distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing) technologies that are poised to scale rapidly. Where companies differ however, is that they can cultivate their DNA to drive business transformation.
Today, leaders are weaving these technological building blocks together to set a course for their company’s future. For businesses, the path forward begins with a renewed focus on technology transformation as they find their unique combination of building blocks and develop their innovation DNA.
It all starts by understanding the innovative business solutions that each building block provides.
Maturing digital technology is no longer just an advantage — it’s a requirement. Many companies are finding new value by putting a price tag on their capabilities while also making them more accessible to those within their ecosystem.
Meanwhile, advancements in science are helping companies expand beyond the digital world. From material sciences to genomic editing, companies are turning these disruptions into competitive advantages faster than ever before.
Finally, organizations are finding new ways to inject DARQ technologies into mature markets. This is helping to ground these tech explorations in reality and open up doors to innovative business solutions.
76% of executives agree that the stakes for innovation have never been higher — getting it “right” will require new ways of innovating with ecosystem partners and third-party organizations.”
56% of executives believe rapid advancements in new technologies and scientific innovations are poised to disrupt their industries. ”
While not every business will have each of these areas fully developed, it’s important that they remain open to each of them as they build their own innovation DNA.
Exploring and investing in the myriad opportunities available today in these three areas is the first step. But pioneers won’t stop there. While leading businesses should have efforts across all three spaces, what will truly set companies apart is the way they merge and combine the technologies with the core competencies of their business. Already, companies are seeing the benefits of powerful combinations of the different innovation building blocks. Leaders will align seemingly separate innovation strategies to radically differentiate themselves, leapfrog industry competitors, build a new generation of products and services, and even create new markets.
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. For the 2020 report, the research process included gathering input from the Technology Vision External Advisory Board, a group comprising more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital firms and entrepreneurial companies. In addition, the Technology Vision team conducted interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, as well as with nearly 100 Accenture business leaders. In parallel, Accenture Research conducted a global online survey of 6,074 business and IT executives to capture insights into the adoption of emerging technologies. The survey helped identify the key issues and priorities for technology adoption and investment. Respondents were C-level executives and directors at companies across 25 countries and 21 industries, with the majority having annual revenues greater than US$5 billion. This year the research also included an Accenture consumer survey of 2,000 people in China, India, United Kingdom and United States.