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Customer Vision

Digital Disruption: Are you playing to win or playing not to lose?


To define our annual Accenture Customer Vision, we endeavor to look into the future that is being formed based on the decisions we make today. While over the last few years, our Customer Vision has centered on the emergence of front office disruptions from trends including the cloud, mobility, and the Internet of Things, this year’s Customer Vision pushes every C-Suite executive to consciously choose the most impactful combinations of these (and other trends) for their refreshed customer and growth strategies.

In 2016, five trends for tomorrow are remaking the front office today. These five business-technology trends have implications for marketing, sales and service as now “every customer is a digital customer.” Furthermore, these trends are influenced by overlapping technology waves including mobility, analytics, social, cognitive computing, Internet of Things, security, cloud, gamification and instant marketing.


Trend 1: Intelligent Automation

Trend 1: Intelligent Automation
Our world, personalized.


Influenced by social, mobility, cloud, analytics and instant marketing technologies, intelligent automation will change the game of creating customer value, by providing fully “digital-do-it-yourself” (DDYI) experiences, reaching into all aspects of everyday life and automating companies’ business processes to enable mass customization of products and services.

Why this matters now

  • Automation has been largely embedded across business processes—and customer experience is one of the most impacted: Eighty-four percent are automating customer experience tasks and processes. Eighty-seven percent plan to increase automation in customer experience delivery.

  • Organizations are using automation not only to reduce costs, but also to create new business/customer value: Thirty-five percent use automation to innovate and create new business models. Forty-three percent will reinvest returns to automate new services.

  • Seventy-eight percent report that AI will contribute to “complete transformation” or “significant change” in their industry.

  • Seventy-eight percent expect major impact to customer support, 71 percent to sales and marketing.

  • Over 8 out of 10 executives agree organizations will realize significant competitive advantages by innovating and creating new business processes.

How it is taking shape

  • Intelligent automation is providing “digital-do-it-yourself” (DDYI) experiences, digitally-enabled automation of customers’ purchasing activities and service consumption. More than simply moving these services to customers, it creates new customer value through personalization, flexibility and reduced costs.

  • Automation will change consumers’ lives by supporting increasingly complex everyday tasks, which in turn will impact how businesses serve consumers by disrupting basic consumer needs.

  • Automation is changing the rules of what’s possible for companies and workers.

  • Leading companies are automating their business process to realize digitally-enabled customer value such as mass-customization and same day delivery.

What it will take to “Play to Win”

  • Embracing automation to create new digitally-enabled customer experiences.

  • Pioneering companies that will grow and dominate their industries will be those that examine the customer journey to identify opportunities, and then systematically embrace automation to drive the changes to their products, services, and even business models as they continue to transform themselves and their industries.

Trend 2: Liquid Workforce

Trend 2: Liquid Workforce
Extraordinary results at the intersection of humans and machines.


Influenced by social, mobility, cloud, analytics and gamification technologies, the race for efficiency through automation and digital has outpaced the real opportunity for workforce impact—the power from technology AND your people, not technology OR your people.

Why this matters now

  • Seventy million smartwatches/bands are expected to be sold this year, rising to 514 million within five years. While only 12 percent of consumers intend to buy a smartwatch in the next 12 months, 41 percent plan to do so within five years.

  • Fifty-seven percent of companies are adopting technologies that help business users to complete tasks that previously required IT experts.

  • Seventy-seven percent believe that within the next three years, companies will need to focus equally on training their people and their machines.

  • The human element remains important to customers: overall company satisfaction decreases 77 points when face-to-face interactions go poorly.

  • Forty percent of companies are considering using sensors to gather intelligence and equip their workforce with more insights.

How it is taking shape

  • Digital is rapidly reinventing the fundamental experience of people at work—from how work is organized, to the work people do, to the very profile of the workforce and how workers are supported by new people practices:

    • Machines are set to take on more challenging physical tasks and perform more efficiently. Some jobs will disappear, but most others will be redefined with new performance level possibilities from technology-assisted changes in front office roles.

    • Human service agents will rise in importance as trusted advisors and complex problem solvers.

    • Gamification, enabled by advanced analytics, will drive improved human performance.

  • Significant impacts on the front-office across sales and service will lead to cost reduction and efficiencies on one hand, and a re-invention of the workforce on the other.

  • Technology is enabling the power of the crowd in sales and service interactions, with consumers helping other consumers.

  • Digital is redefining the “workforce” to extend beyond companies’ own employees to include more directly-enabled channel partners and consumers themselves.

What it will take to “Play to Win”

  • Confirm how much their industry/business model will/should be impacted by the convergence of workforce and technology.

  • Isolate affected roles and complete the Accenture Digital Intensity & Readiness Assessment.

  • Translate the “bionic” capabilities into business results/terms.


Trend 3: The Platform Economy
Technology-driven business model innovation from the outside in.


Influenced by Internet of Things, cloud and instant marketing technologies, the Platform Economy has implications for companies’ customer strategies and their marketing, sales and service functions as re-architecting the customer experience is critical in creating a successful platform business model.

Industry leaders are unleashing technology’s power by developing not only new technology platforms, but also the platform-based business models and strategies they enable. Embracing the transformational power of platforms to move from a fragmented experience with customers to a connected, integrated, cumulative interaction building across all stakeholders in the ecosystem is capturing new growth.

Why this matters now

  • Ninety-three percent believe the adoption of a platform-based business model and engaging in ecosystems of digital partners is critical to the success of their business.

  • Seventy-five percent say the next generation of platforms will be led by industry players and leaders.

  • Eighty-two percent agree that platforms will be the “glue” that brings organizations together in the digital economy.

  • Eighty-eight percent believe the power of demand-side economies of scale will be very or extremely important to their businesses in five years.

  • Executives ranked asymmetric growth as most important growth strategy over the next three years.

  • Eighty-six percent of B2B/B2B2C companies state that defending against new types of competitors has become a top priority.

How it is taking shape

  • As the shift occurs from supply-side to demand-side economies of scale where value is created in platform ecosystems of stakeholders (customers, partners, developers and others) that leverage the network effect, companies must decide whether they create ecosystems or participate in the ecosystem of others.

  • Those seeking to create platform businesses will need to re-architect the customer experience for their customers as this is a critical success factor for ensuring that a digital platform can enable a game-changing business model.

  • Incumbents leading an industry via supply-side economies of scale will need to build differentiated customer experiences to combat disruptors.

What it will take to “Play to Win”

  • Platform Business Models enabled by digital platforms are the new path for not just growth, but survival, but not all who create a digital platform are successful in stimulating demand-side economies of scale.

  • Capitalizing on the network effect of a platform business requires the creation of seamless inter-connections between channels and nodes of the ecosystem and challenging the traditional notions of affinity programs and channel partners.

  • Leaders will move away from fragmented experiences with customers to connected, integrated, cumulative interaction building across all stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Trend 4: Predictable Disruption

Trend 4: Predictable Disruption
Looking to digital ecosystems for the next waves of change from the Internet of Every…Things.


Influenced by Internet of Things, mobility, security, cloud and cognitive computing technologies, capitalizing on the Internet of Things isn’t for everyone. For those that will disrupt their industries, it’s an all-encompassing effort that identifies new growth opportunities and starts from a conscious choice as to whether you will develop/lead an ecosystem or engage as part of others’ ecosystems.

Why this matters now

  • Physical, chemical and biological sensors are evolving into autonomous analytical devices capable of performing sophisticated analytical processes.

  • The cost of electronic components has dropped over 30 percent in the last five years, making many new business cases possible today. (Gartner, June 2014)

  • Advances and standardization in Internet network technologies allow rapid, low-cost promulgation of information from physical sensors to be combined with avalanches of related business process and consumer activity data.

  • Eight-seven percent of enterprises see intelligent hardware leading a shift from selling products or services to selling outcomes.

  • Seventy-seven percent are taking part in open innovation initiatives, using APIs and technology platforms to deliver better outcomes.

How it is taking shape

  • The convergence of the physical and digital worlds begins with sensors and sensory data. Such data is becoming the currency of the Industrial Internet economy and the foundation for new software-enabled services.

  • The supply chain will become more flexible, allowing further on-demand customization by consumers and real-time access to information.

  • Customer experience and customer retention will increase as smart devices self-heal, minimizing toxic interactions.

  • Businesses and governments are realizing that data can be used to optimize the cost and delivery of industrial services.

  • Smart devices address new challenges such as fast-growing city populations through solutions such as connected mobility, smart building, energy-saving and traffic optimization.

  • Intelligence is built into products and services to facilitate new levels of collaboration with customers—eliminating decisions to go directly to outcomes and disruptors will contextualize these assets to meet their customers’ needs.

What it will take to “Play to Win”

As Internet of Every…Things becomes possible with IoT, companies need to evaluate how IoT will drive optimal value for them. Capturing the greatest impact from IoT will combine elements of digital disruption, open innovation and launching new business from ecosystems … all at a significantly faster pace than ever before.


Trend 5: Digital Trust 
The new value exchange in today’s digital economy. 


Influenced by mobility, instant marketing, social, analytics and security technologies, trust is becoming harder to achieve. In today’s digital age, this becomes even more complex as the volume and intimacy of data is on the rise. However, if companies get it right, there is a chance to monetize this data for company and customer alike—and build a deeper level of trust than we have previously seen.

Why this matters now

  • Eighty-three percent of enterprises agree that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy.

  • Eighty-two percent of companies believe that digital exposes them to exponentially more risk.

  • Eighty-three percent agree that a lack of security and ethical controls on data could exclude them from participating in others’ digital platforms and in broader ecosystems.

  • Driven by consumer privacy concerns, purchase intent has only increased one percent from last year on IoT devices.

  • Only half of today’s consumers feel it is acceptable for a company to track buying habits and sell that data to third parties in exchange for providing people with discounts.

  • Seventy percent of consumers agree there are few or no trusted ways to find out about personal data management and protection online.

How it is taking shape

  • Trust is a scarce commodity and it just got a whole lot more complicated as digital joins the equation.

  • Companies will need to look at their expenditure in light of trust and decide whether it really delivers.

  • The Internet of Things is increasing the volume of behavioural data, creating challenges around storage, usage and security. However, trust is not only about security. It is also about creating a fair “value exchange”. If consumers agree to share more data, they expect something in return. This is critical to recognize if new data is to be truly monetised.

What it will take to “Play to Win”

Loyalty is being replaced by a clearer value exchange and trust is the cornerstone of this digital economy.

  • Understand the new segmentation. Some customer relationships start with trust and lose it, others start without it and gain it…

  • Create a value exchange: Co-create/co-ideate and co-develop with customers and share the gains.

  • Is trust for sale and can it be bought? Bake trust into the operating model to provide clear accountability of who the “chief trust officer” is and what the company is doing with consumer data.

  • Become the broker: Create a marketplace for customers to trade their own data and monetise it. Once you earn their trust you have a basis to sell anything.

  • Turn customers into your salesforce: Give customers flexibility to sell key products and services in order to build new market share and generate streams of customer income.

Contact Us

Robert Wollan

Robert Wollan
Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
Advanced Customer Strategy Global Lead
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Kevin Quiring

Kevin Quiring
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
Advanced Customer Strategy North America Lead
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Rachel Barton 
Rachel Barton
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
Advanced Customer Strategy UK, Europe and Latin America Lead
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