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Accenture’s tech vision draws inspiration from Black Mirror

Last year’s “Bandersnatch” Black Mirror episode on Netflix highlights a new opportunity for business, according to Accenture

Research for the Accenture 2020 Technology Vision 2020 report has concluded that to compete and succeed in a world where digital is everywhere, companies need a new focus. Accenture urged organisations to balance “value” with “values”, aligning their drive to create business value with their customers’ and employees’ values and expectations.

The research, based on a global online survey of 6,074 business and IT executives, reported that enterprises are facing their next big challenge. “Up until now, businesses have largely benefited from following the technology roadmap laid out by digital pioneers,” the Accenture report said. “Now, digital technology is evolving from an advantage to a basic expectation – and yesterday’s best practices are turning into today’s shortcomings.”

Three-quarters (76%) of executives who took part in the study said they believe the stakes for innovation have never been higher. According to Accenture, getting it “right” will require new ways of innovating with ecosystem partners and third-party organisations.

In the report, Accenture used a reference to the “Bandersnatch” episode of Black Mirror on Netflix to illustrate that, while audience interaction may be considered a gimmick, it shows there is an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to look at how to collaborate with partners in experience creation, not to transform their relationships with customers.

Accenture urged enterprises to revisit their fundamental models of business and technology, rebuilding them to align better with people today. “This reimagination of the enterprise offers tremendous opportunity to those that take the lead,” it said in the report.

“In every industry, companies’ current successes are happening in spite of their foundations, not because of them. When leaders successfully rebuild their technology models to deliver the human focus they’ve lost, they will be poised to do far more than meet expectations. They’ll set the new standard that every competitor – in every industry – will be forced to try to meet.”

The report’s authors acknowledged that this is the greatest challenge the c-suite will face during the next decade. “The success of the next generation of products and services will rest on companies’ ability to elevate the human experience,” the report said. “None of the steps on the journey are incremental changes, nor are they as simple as finding the next technological tool to do what you’re already doing today. Leading in the future will demand rethinking core assumptions about how an enterprise works and redefining the intersection between people and technology.”

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According to the report, continuing with existing models not only risks irritating customers or disengaging employees, but could permanently limit the potential for future innovation and growth. Accenture believes AI (artificial intelligence) offers one of the key advantages that have enabled startups to disrupt decades-old incumbents. “The technology doesn’t approach a problem based on years of experience or inherent human biases,” it said. “It hasn’t yet learned what not to try.”

Accenture suggested that AI should be an additive contributor to how people perform their work, rather than a backstop for automation. “As AI capabilities grow, enterprises must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process, with trust and transparency at its core,” said the report.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture, said: “Today we are seeing a tech clash caused by the tension between consumer expectations, the potential of technology, and business ambitions – and are now at an important leadership inflection point. We must shift our mindset from ‘just because’ to ‘trust because’ – re-examining our fundamental business and technology models and creating a new basis for competition and growth.”

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