For more than 20-years, Accenture has published its Technology Vision, which serves as a systematic review across the enterprise landscape to identify emerging technology trends with the greatest potential impact on companies, government agencies and other organizations. Based on my experience, the Tech Vision reports have been remarkably accurate, iconic, and still relevant — a big game changer for how we talk to the market. And this year’s theme — Leaders Wanted: Experts at Change at a Moment of Truth — could not be more applicable today. 

There has been an enormous amount of change over the past year in how we live, how we work, and how we collaborate. As a result, disparate companies have come together to develop vaccines, manufacture medical devices, and so much more. I’ve noticed those companies that made things happen had the needed technology, but also the skills needed to skillfully change. 

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A new kind of leadership demands enterprises prioritize technology innovation in response to a radically changing world.

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When Accenture launched its Future Systems Research in 2019, it revealed that digital leaders — the top 10 percent of companies leading technology innovation — achieve 2X revenue growth as compared to their competitors. And from what I’ve learned from the new release of this research, the “Digital Achievement Gap” has widened tremendously. Based on this new analysis, the widening disparity between these leaders and their competitors has increased five-folds.

What sets these leaders apart? 

Here’s my viewpoint of the 5 trends from the 2021 Tech Vision: 

  1. Stack Strategically: Architecting for a Better Future. One of the trends I believe is most significant is that technology architecture is now a C-suite concern and no longer something done only within IT projects. Companies now compete on their architecture, so building and using the most competitive technology stack means thinking about technology differently; and as a result, business and technology strategies are becoming indistinguishable.   
  1. Mirrored World: The Power of Massive, Intelligent, Digital Twins. In my opinion, the digital twin concept isn’t new, but now twins are used to create living models of factories, supply chains, product lifecycles and more; thus, opening new opportunities to operate, collaborate and innovate. 
  1. I, Technologist: The Democratization of Technology. People at all levels of the organization now have access to powerful technology. But they need to be fluent in the way they use technology, moving past collaboration to use the tools and platforms to actually develop new capabilities. And the CIO now needs to enable everybody — not just the technologists — to take advantage of technology.
  1. Anywhere, Everywhere. In the past, we talked about bringing your own device; now the concept is to bring your own environment. Together, we are transforming remote work, making it an advantage rather than an accommodation. To do this, we need to address a lot of issues, including security, cultural shifts, and the evolving purpose of physical office space. When we address these challenges, we will be amazed by what we can achieve with a virtualized workforce.
  1. From Me to We: A Multiparty System’s Path Through Chaos. We are all dealing with complex ecosystems — in business, in government, and in life generally. The demand for things like contact tracing, carbon tracking, frictionless payments, and circular supply chains exposed some of the gaps in enterprises’ existing ecosystems. Multiparty systems can help businesses gain resilience and adaptability while unlocking new ways to approach the market.  

We have seen incredible change in the past year, and the pace of change is accelerating. That means leaders need to invest to stay ahead, and laggards must act now to close an ever-widening gap. In addition, we've seen big shifts in customer expectations and worker’s needs. Now health, safety, and security are among the new requirements for loyalty. 

As a result, becoming an expert in change is going to be a key leadership attribute. A new kind of leadership demands enterprises prioritize technology innovation in response to a radically changing world. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use technology change to reimagine and rebuild, not only the future of business, but the entire human experience. And I think CIOs are in a prime position to embrace this opportunity to become experts of this change.

See more IT Strategy insights.

Christine Disco

Managing Director, Technology Strategy & Consulting

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