Human-centric technologies will dominate next three years

Accenture says businesses will develop technology and services to match human behaviour in the next few years

Technology enhancements that change the way people live and work will dominate the agendas of IT departments over the next three years, according to a major global report by IT services giant Accenture.

In its Technology Vision 2017 report, Accenture surveyed about 5,400 businesses across 16 industries in 31 countries. The report called for business and IT leaders to create technology that increases humans’ capabilities.

But because technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data will cause changes in society, such as replacing humans in certain jobs and collecting personal information about people, business and society leaders will face hurdles beyond the technical challenges, it said.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovations officer at Accenture,  said the company is optimistic that these leaders will ensure new technology has a positive impact.

“The pace of technology change is breathtaking, bringing about the biggest advancements since the dawn of the information age,” he said. “As technology transforms the way we work and live, it raises important societal challenges and creates new opportunities. Ultimately, people are in control of creating the changes that will affect our lives, and we are optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies.”

The report outlined five areas that organisations must get their heads around.

It said businesses need to realise that AI is becoming the preferred way for customers to interact with organisations’ technology platforms. “Artificial intelligence is coming of age, tackling problems both big and small by making interactions simple and smart,” it said. “AI is becoming the new user interface (UI), underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems.”

The report found that 79% of respondents agree that AI will revolutionise the way they gain information from, and interact with, customers.

The report also said technology needs to be designed with human behaviour in mind. “Design decisions are being made by humans, for humans,” it said. “Technology adapts to how we behave and learns from us to enhance our lives, making them richer and more fulfilling.”

The report revealed that 80% of respondents agree that organisations need to understand not only what people want now, but also their aspirations.

Meanwhile, businesses need to make sure that, through their own digital platforms, they enable customers to connect to the external services they want, Accenture said. “Companies don’t just need a platform strategy – they need a rich and robust ecosystem approach to lead in this new era of intelligence.”

The report also found that digital ecosystems are transforming the way 27% of the organisations surveyed deliver value.

The next challenge concerns labour. The report said increasing use is being made of platforms that provide on-demand labour. “As a result, leading companies are dissolving traditional hierarchies and replacing them with talent marketplaces, which, in turn, is driving the most profound economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution,” the report said.

According to the report, 85% of organisation plan to increase their use of independent freelance workers.

Finally, the report recommends that business leaders look beyond their traditional sector and enter new industries. Three-quarters (74%) of the executives surveyed said their business is entering entirely new digital industries that have yet to be defined.

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