Survive the 'tech-clash' by rethinking 5 technology trends

A recent Accenture survey showed that organizations should consider a human-centric approach when looking to adopt the latest technology trends, including AI, smart products, 5G and more.

Our love affair with technology has hit a turning point. Technology is now so fundamentally a part of our day-to-day experience, that our expectations for how it is developed, applied and delivered have increased exponentially. Our love affair continues, but it must be on our terms.

This is one of the central themes in Accenture's "Technology Vision 2020" report. Businesses need to be aware of mismatched expectations or face potential repercussions if they choose to ignore it in the years ahead.

Eliminate the old -- look to newer technology trends

What's clear is that the old ways of doing things must change. The strategies invented by the digital pioneers have made the world what it is -- but they have had their day. By continuing to use outdated practices and business models, organizations run the risk of failing to keep pace with people's evolving expectations and values.

This trend has sometimes been characterized as a backlash against tech, or what The Economist called "tech-lash." But that fails to recognize that people still love technology. Instead, we're facing a "tech-clash" -- the tension between business and technology models that are incongruous with stakeholders' needs and expectations.

Tech-clash is everywhere. Smart products are proliferating, for example, even as businesses wall them off in closed ecosystems models. Our demand for unlimited choice is met by vendor lock-in and inflexibility. Similarly, where we ask for a new look at the ownership model -- and a share in the rewards -- of our valuable data, we are more often cut off from both. And then there's AI. While the technology is being applied more broadly, automation is still the standout application and that leaves many people worried about the future of their livelihoods. Thanks to tech-clash, consumer wariness and distrust of technology are on the rise.

Trust is the ultimate currency

Businesses aren't slowing down their innovation agendas, but they must change tack if they want their products and services to find a receptive audience. Every business assumption and entrenched approach needs to be put up for review using a people-centric lens. This involves re-engineering the experiences that bring people and technology together, considering the implications of the democratization of data and technology, and re-evaluating what technology provides for people and how it changes people's lives in the process.

Trust and accountability will also be increasingly important. As enterprises apply technology innovations that play a deeper role in the world and are more embedded in people's lives, they must adapt for the world they've created. Fostering trusting relationships based on accountability is critical for creating a more inclusive future that's better for all and not just the few.

The tech-clash is therefore a challenge with a clear solution. Businesses that find a way to deliver technology in-line with peoples' expectations will be best positioned to grow now and in the future.

Diffusing tech-clash in technology trends

Exactly how can enterprises go about realigning their technology in this way? It starts with rethinking fundamental -- but now outdated -- business models. The Accenture "Technology Vision 2020" report identifies five major technology trends that organizations should consider as part of their efforts to realign their models to bring a more human-centric approach to their technology and innovation efforts. Collaboration runs through all of them, as it is only by working more closely with people that companies will be able to meet their expectations. The technology trends are:

  • The I in Experience. Leading organizations will design experiences that amplify an individual's agency and choice. Instead of one-way experiences that can leave people feeling out of the loop, leaders will offer true collaborations that turn passive audiences into active and engaged participants.
  • AI and Me. As AI capabilities grow, the real pioneers will be those who think about how the technology can be harnessed to bring out the full power and potential of their people. That means moving beyond automation/job replacement use cases and reimagining AI as an addition and augmentation to how people perform their work.
  • The Dilemma of Smart Things. Soon, the tech world will be in a state of perpetual beta development, with products and services continual works in progress. This challenges existing assumptions about who actually owns a product. As enterprises seek to introduce a new generation of products that are driven by digital experiences, addressing this new reality will be critical to success.
  • Robots in the Wild. Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. With 5G poised to rapidly accelerate this fast-growing trend, every enterprise must rethink their company's future through the lens of robotics.
  • Innovation DNA. Disruptive technologies such as distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing are proliferating, providing enterprises many routes to innovation. To manage all this technology -- and evolve at the speed that the market demands today -- organizations will need to establish their own unique innovation DNA.

Ensure a human-centric approach to tech trends

To grow and compete in a world where digital is everywhere, businesses will need to reorient their strategies around a more human-centric approach in which customers are collaborators, not just passive recipients. Businesses that take decisive action to respond to these technology trends will forge stronger and deeper relationships with their customers, capture increased market share and set the standard for their industries.

About the author
Michael Biltz (@mjbiltz) is a managing director in Accenture Technology Labs. He leads Accenture's Vision R&D group and the enterprise's annual technology visioning process. Through Accenture's "Technology Vision," Michael defines Accenture's perspective on the future of technology beyond the current conversations about the IoT, social, cloud, mobility and big data to focus on how technology will affect the way we work and live.

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