“The world is hungry for a new kind of leadership,” according to the Accenture Technology Vision 2021 report. The report, “Leaders Wanted: Masters of Change at a Moment of Truth,” outlines how leading enterprises are compressing a decade of digital transformation into one or two years. Accenture surveyed more than 6,200 business and technology leaders for the Technology Vision report, and 92% report that their organization is innovating with an urgency and call to action this year. And 91% of executives agree capturing tomorrow’s market will require their organization to define it.
Relying on a strong digital core to adapt and innovate at lighting speed, leaders are growing revenues 5x faster than laggards today, versus only 2x faster between 2015 to 2018, according to Accenture research. The result is a wave of companies racing to reinvent themselves and use technology innovations to shape the new realities they face.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2021 report identifies five key trends that companies will need to address over next three years to accelerate and master change in all parts of the business:
- Stack Strategically: Architecting a Better Future — A new era of industry competition is dawning, one where companies compete on their IT systems architecture. But building and wielding the most competitive technology stack means thinking about technology differently, making business and technology strategies indistinguishable. Eighty-nine percent of executives believe that their organization’s ability to generate business value will increasingly be based on the limitations and opportunities of their technology architecture.
- Mirrored World: The Power of Massive, Intelligent, Digital Twins — Leaders are building intelligent digital twins to create living models of factories, supply chains, product lifecycles, and more. Bringing together data and intelligence to represent the physical world in a digital space will unlock new opportunities to operate, collaborate, and innovate. Sixty-five percent of executives surveyed expect their organization’s investment in intelligent digital twins to increase over the next three years.
- I, Technologist: The Democratization of Technology — Powerful capabilities are now available to people across business functions, adding a grassroots layer to enterprises’ innovation strategies. Now, every employee can be an innovator, optimizing their work, fixing pain points, and keeping the business in lockstep with new and changing needs. Eighty-eight percent of executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation across their organization.
- Anywhere, Everywhere: Bring Your Own Environment — The single biggest workforce shift in living memory has positioned businesses to expand the boundaries of the enterprise. When people can “bring your own environment” they have the freedom to seamlessly work from anywhere — whether that’s at home, the office, the airport, partners’ offices, or somewhere else. In this model, leaders can rethink the purpose of working at each location and lean into the opportunity to reimagine their business in this new world. Eighty-one percent of executives agree that leading organizations in their industry will start shifting from a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ to ‘Bring Your Own Environment’ workforce approach.
- From Me to We: A Multiparty System’s Path Through Chaos — The demand for contact tracing, frictionless payments, and new ways of building trust brought into sharp focus what had been left undone with enterprises’ existing ecosystems. Multiparty systems can help businesses gain greater resilience and adaptability; unlock new ways to approach the market; and set new, ecosystem-forward standards for their industries. Ninety percent of executives surveyed state that multiparty systems will enable their ecosystems to forge a more resilient, adaptable foundation and create new value with their organization’s partners.
Here are very interesting and powerful research finding from the Accenture Tech Vision 2021 report that validate the five technology trends which will shape the future:
- A recent study revealed that digital leaders (the top 10% of companies leading technology innovation) achieve 2-3x revenue growth as compared to their competitors — a widening divide that Accenture calls the “Digital Achievement Gap.”
- Today enterprises are at around 20% cloud deployment, but Accenture anticipates rapid growth to 80% as companies take a bolder approach to technology that is more aligned with the business.
- Ninety percent of business and IT executives in our survey agree that to be agile and resilient, their organizations need to fast forward their digital transformation with cloud at its core.
- Sixty-three percent of executives report the pace of digital transformation for their organization is accelerating.
- Ninety-two percent of executives report that their organization is innovating with an urgency and call to action this year.
- Eighty-three percent of executives agree that their organization’s business and technology strategies are becoming inseparable, even indistinguishable.
- Seventy-seven percent of executives state that their technology architecture is becoming critical to the overall success of their organization.
- Sixty-five percent of executives expect their organization’s investment in intelligent digital twins to increase over the next three years.
- Only 11% of executives estimate that 100% of the data provided through IoT devices and/or sensors in their organizations is fully utilized.
- Eighty-seven percent of executives agree digital twins are becoming essential to their organization’s ability to collaborate in strategic ecosystem partnerships.
- Eight-eight percent of executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation across their organization.
- Eighty-six percent of executives agree their organization must train their people to think like technologists — to use and customize technology solutions at the individual level, but without highly technical skills.
- Ninety percent of executives agree that for tools of technology democratization, organizations need to ensure that training strategies include a focus on security and data governance.
- Eighty-two percent of executives agree their organization’s employees just faced the largest and fastest human behavioral change in history due to .
- Forty-eight percent of organizations have invested in cloud-enabled tools and technologies and 47% in digital collaboration tools to support their remote workforce during COVID-19.
- Eighty-seven percent of executives believe the remote workforce opens up the market for difficult-to-find talent, and expands the competition for talent among organizations.
- Ninety percent of executives agree that to be agile and resilient, their organizations need to fast forward their digital transformation with cloud at its core.
- Ninety percent of executives state that multiparty systems will enable their ecosystems to forge a more resilient and adaptable foundation to create new value with their organization’s partners.
Paul Daugherty is Accenture’s Group Chief Executive – Technology & Chief Technology Officer. He leads all aspects of Accenture’s technology business. Daugherty is also responsible for Accenture’s technology strategy, driving innovation through R&D in Accenture Labs and leveraging emerging technologies to bring the newest innovations to clients globally. He founded and oversees Accenture Ventures, which is focused on strategic equity investments and open innovation to accelerate growth. He is a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee. Daugherty has been recognized in Computerworld’s Premier 100 Technology Leaders, Retail Week’s Tech 100, AdWeek 50, LinkedIn Top Voices, and Business Transformation 150. He accepted the FASPE Award for Ethical Leadership for his work in applying ethical principles to the development and use of artificial intelligence and other innovative 21st century technologies. Daugherty is co-author of Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, a management playbook for the business of Artificial Intelligence.
To learn more about Accenture Technology Vision 2021 report, Ray Wang, CEO and founder of a Silicon Valley-based advisory firm Constellation Research, and I invited Paul Daugherty, co-author of the Tech Vision report, to our weekly show DisrupTV. Here are the key takeaways of our conversation with Daugherty
“The global pandemic pushed a giant fast forward button to the future. Many organizations stepped up to use technology in extraordinary ways to keep their businesses and communities running — at a pace they thought previously impossible — while others faced the stark reality of their shortcomings, lacking the digital foundation needed to rapidly pivot,” said Paul Daugherty.
Four new realities that all business leaders must embrace
According to Daugherty, the pandemic brought momentum of truth and a new mindset, along with four new realities that all business leaders must embrace as companies shift from reacting to the new normal to creating the new normal.
- The human experience — 8 billion people around the world instantaneously changed behavior for the first time in history. Daugherty referenced online work, online grocery shopping, telemedicine and other massive changes.
- Every business is now a technology business.
- : work is now designed to be independent of location and time, data and meta-data driven, hyper-automated and focused on human-centric experience
- Sustainability is the new ‘digital’: Sustainability together with technology will drive the success and leadership for companies in the future
Masters of change require technology leaders
Daugherty talked to us about leadership lessons learned since the pandemic. Before COVID there was a digital achievement gap. This gap has widened since the pandemic. A recent study before the pandemic revealed that digital leaders (the top 10% of companies leading technology innovation) achieve 2-3x revenue growth as compared to their competitors — a widening divide that Accenture calls the “Digital Achievement Gap.” Since the pandemic, the digital achievement gap is now 5x.
Shaping the future will require companies to become masters of change by adhering to three key imperatives, this according to Daugherty:
1. Leadership demands technology leadership. The era of the fast follower is over — perpetual change is permanent. Tomorrow’s leaders will be those that put technology at the forefront of their business strategy. Every leader must now be a technology leader according to Daugherty.
2. Leaders will not wait for the new normal, they will create it. Leaders won’t wait for a new normal, they’ll reinvent, building new realities using radically different mindsets and models.
3. Sustainability is the new ‘digital’. Leaders will embrace a broader responsibility as global citizens, deliberately designing and applying technology to create positive impacts far beyond the enterprise to create a more sustainable and inclusive world. Humanity must be at the core. Your solutions must provide benefits for all stakeholders — employees, customers, partners and communities.
Daugherty reminds us that large technology companies have an obligation to ensure business is the greatest platform for change. There is an extra level of obligation for technology companies to lead the way in terms of reducing the digital divide and issues related to humanities. The technology must be used in the right way to ensure stakeholder benefit. Daugherty talked about the 360-degree value framework that is used by Accenture to ensure everyone benefits from digital transformation. Accenture is a fantastic example of how values can create value.
Daugherty shared specific use cases and benefits for some of the technology trends. I encourage you to watch our video conversation to learn more how Accenture clients are using these five trends to grow their businesses while delighting their customers. We talked about blockchain, , cloud computing and other emerging technologies but in the context of business outcomes. What I appreciate about the Technology Vision 2021 research is its focus on business outcomes and market trends versus a list of the technologies that will have high impact on our future.
We discussed the ‘Stack Strategically: Architecting a Better Future’ trend extensively — in my opinion, this is the most important trend for business leaders to understand. Daugherty reminded us that all the trends are very important, but how you do tech matters a lot. He gave us a brilliant example of how companies use their modern technology stack providing key differentiation. Getting to the cloud, leveraging the edge, using AI, building secure and scalable capabilities, and finally designing a human-centric experience model that is flexible, adaptable and intuitive, are important elements of architecting a better future.
To learn more about the Accenture Technology Vision 2021 research, you can visit here.