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February 12, 2019
The post-digital era is coming: Are you ready?
By: Paul Daugherty

Paul Daugherty: Tech Vision 2019


The pace of technological change sweeping boldly across business and society is breathtaking—and it is taking us from the digital age towards a new reality, a new era that Accenture predicts will be the post-digital era.

Why post-digital you may ask? Think about where we are today. $1.25 trillion will be spent on digital transformation globally in 2019, and that number will skyrocket to $1.97 trillion in global spending on digital transformation of businesses in 2022, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). And over 60 percent of global GDP will be digitized with growth in every industry driven by digitally-enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships.

What does this mean?

Enterprises are at a crucial new turning point. In an environment where everyone says they are going digital, we will need a new set of rules to be successful. Digital is indeed still important, but now it is simply the price of admission for doing business—it is no longer a differentiation advantage. What’s the secret to creating competitive advantage in this post-digital world we foresee? That lies at the heart of Accenture’s newly released Technology Vision 2019, our annual outlook on the top global technology trends in the next three years and beyond. We explore this post-digital era and the strategic implications and imperatives for business. This year, our company pushed even bolder with Tech Vision—looking further into the future to provide vital direction for our clients.

In the post-Digital world, differentiation comes from applying digital in powerful new ways. The technologies needed to innovate and differentiate go beyond the foundational adoption of digital tools and concepts. It’s an era where building trust with customers, employees, business partners and communities through a responsible approach to technology is the top priority for all C-suite executives who want to grow and succeed.

What will this post-digital era look like?

A world where individualization and instant on-demand capabilities will make it possible for businesses to capture and deliver on momentary markets.

The next wave of technology will make it possible for products, services and even people’s surroundings to be deeply customized—or what Accenture is calling “individualization”—and delivered instantly on-demand. Companies will be able to understand consumers, employees and business partners and their goals better than ever before, and they’ll have the agility to move even closer and act “in the moment” to people’s needs.

By combining individualization with instant on-demand capabilities, businesses will be able to cater to individuals in every aspect of their lives, careers or business relationships—in effect, shaping their very realities. In order to do this, organizations will need to both understand people at a holistic level—and deliver as needs change at a moment’s notice.

The pace of innovation will never be slower than it is today. Because let’s face it, the world is complex and lightning-quick: 94 percent of business and IT executives we surveyed saying the pace of innovation in their organizations has accelerated over the past three years due to emerging technologies.[1] As Moore’s Law approaches its limits and new types of compute emerge, technology is reaching deeper into every aspect of people’s lives and work experiences.

Many of these technological advancements are positive. We’ve seen dazzling displays in healthcare diagnosis using artificial intelligence, virtual reality and digital twin technology. More than half (3.9 billion) of the global population is now online and using the Internet,[2]which represents a more inclusive global information society. And people are applying technology for good in powerful ways—from adopting blockchain for humanitarian efforts, to improving agricultural practices and reducing waste in the global food supply chain.

But some of technology’s impact has a downside that’s driving “techlash.” Just witness the geopolitical positioning happening for AI superpower status, as well as the surge of public sentiment demanding enterprises to be accountable for what they build and launch to market. Technology is even reaching into complex areas, like gene editing and surveillance capitalism, that raise new ethical questions for society.

As you chart your course to harness the boundless new opportunities to take your business in new directions in the post-digital era, it’s imperative that our guiding principle is innovation with purpose—that creates valuable business outcomes and impact, while navigating the opportunities with responsibility.

Our Tech Vision 2019, “The Post-Digital Era Is Upon Us: Are You Ready for What’s Next?” provides a view into the new world—with groundbreaking insights, well-researched trends, global survey results and decision points on what it will take to navigate this future. The five trends this year are:

  1. DARQ Power: Understanding the DNA of DARQ

    New technologies are catalysts for change, offering businesses extraordinary new capabilities. Distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing will be the next set of new technologies to spark a step change, letting businesses reimagine entire industries.

  2. Get to Know Me: Unlock unique consumers and unique opportunities

    Technology-driven interactions are creating an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This living foundation of knowledge will be key to not only understanding the next generation of consumers, but also to delivering rich, individualized, experience-based relationships in the post-digital age.

  3. Human+ Worker: Change the workplace or hinder the workforce.

    Workforces are becoming human+: each individual is empowered by their skillsets and knowledge plus a new, constantly growing set of capabilities made possible through technology. Now, companies must adapt the technology strategies that successfully created this next generation workforce to support a new way of working in the post-digital age.

  4. Secure Us to Secure Me: Enterprises are not victims, they’re vectors

    While ecosystem-driven business depends on interconnectedness, those connections increase companies’ exposures to risks. Leading businesses are recognizing that just as they already collaborate with entire ecosystems to deliver best-in-class products, services, and experiences, it’s time security joins that effort as well.

  5. MyMarkets: Meet consumers’ needs at the speed of now

Technology is creating a world of intensely customized and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities as they come. That means viewing each opportunity as if it’s an individual market—a momentary market.

Where opportunity and responsibility meet.

The post-digital era will disrupt and reshape business and industries, bringing powerful new capabilities and possibilities. But that does not mean digital is not over—quite the opposite because most of the journey is still ahead, but post-digital requires new rules.

As every business does indeed become a digital business, however, leadership will depend on how fast your company can continue the journey to master artificial intelligence, extended reality, distributed ledger technology, quantum computing and more.

The post-digital era offers enterprises a tremendous opportunity to innovate and grow their business, along with an unprecedented and urgent mandate to focus on building trust and responsible innovation. Addressing the privacy, safety, ethics and governance that come along with this level of technology-enabled access is paramount.

The path to the post-digital era awaits. I invite you to take your company’s digital transformation journey to the next level by applying new technologies, investing in your talent and organization to build post-digital skillsets, and strengthening trust-based relationships for even greater success.

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