The enterprise is entering a new “post-digital” era, where success will be based on an organization’s ability to master a set of new technologies that can deliver personalized realities and experiences for customers, employees and business partners, according to Accenture Technology Vision 2019, the annual report from Accenture that predicts key technology trends that will redefine businesses over the next three years.
According to this year’s report, “The Post-Digital Era is Upon Us – Are You Ready for What’s Next?,” the enterprise is at a turning point. Digital technologies enable companies to understand their customers with a new depth of granularity; give them more channels with which to reach those consumers; and enable them to expand ecosystems with new potential partners. But digital is no longer a differentiating advantage ― it’s now the price of admission.
In fact, nearly four in five (79 percent) of the more than 6,600 business and IT executives worldwide that Accenture surveyed for the report believe that digital technologies ― specifically social, mobile, analytics and cloud ― have moved beyond adoption silos to become part of the core technology foundation for their organization.
“A post-digital world doesn’t mean that digital is over,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology & innovation officer. “On the contrary ― we’re posing a new question: As all organizations develop their digital competency, what will set YOU apart? In this era, simply doing digital isn’t enough. Our Technology Vision highlights the ways in which organizations must use powerful new technologies to innovate in their business models and personalize experiences for their customers. At the same time, leaders must recognize that human values, such as trust and responsibility, are not just buzzwords but critical enablers of their success.”
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving landscape:
- DARQ Power: Understanding the DNA of DARQ. The technologies of distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing (DARQ) are catalysts for change, offering extraordinary new capabilities and enabling businesses to reimagine entire industries. When asked to rank which of these will have the greatest impact on their organization over the next three years, 41 percent of executives ranked AI number one — more than twice the number of any other DARQ technology.
- Get to Know Me: Unlock unique consumers and unique opportunities. Technology-driven interactions are creating an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This living foundation of knowledge will be key to understanding the next generation of consumers and for delivering rich, individualized, experience-based relationships. More than four in five executives (83 percent) said that digital demographics give their organizations a new way to identify market opportunities for unmet customer needs.
Human+ Worker: Change your workplace or hinder your workforce. As workforces become “human+” — with each individual worker empowered by their skillsets and knowledge plus a new, growing set of capabilities made possible through technology — companies must support a new way of working in the post-digital age. More than two-thirds (71 percent) of executives believe that their employees are more digitally mature than their organization, resulting in a workforce “waiting” for the organization to catch up.
- Secure Us to Secure Me: Enterprises are not victims, they’re vectors. While ecosystem-driven business depends on interconnectedness, those connections increase companies’ exposures to risks. Leading businesses recognize that security must play a key role in their efforts as they collaborate with entire ecosystems to deliver best-in-class products, services and experiences. Only 29 percent of executives said they know their ecosystem partners are working diligently to be compliant and resilient with regard to security.
- MyMarkets: Meet consumers at the speed of now. Technology is creating a world of intensely customized and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities. That means viewing each opportunity as if it’s an individual market—a momentary market. Six in seven executives (85 percent) said that the integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage.
According to the report, innovation for organizations in the post-digital era involves figuring out how to shape the world around people and pick the right time to offer their products and services. They’re taking their first steps in a world that tailors itself to fit every moment — where products, services and even people’s surroundings are customized and where businesses cater to the individual in every aspect of their lives and jobs, shaping their realities.
One company taking individualization and customization to a new level is Zozotown, Japan’s biggest e-commerce company. Its skintight spandex Zozosuits pair with the Zozotown app to take customers’ exact measurements; custom-tailored pieces from the company’s in-house clothing line arrive in as few as 10 days. And it’s not just in the fashion industry where technology is enabling customization previously not possible. U.S. retailer Sam’s Club developed an app that uses machine learning and data about customers’ past purchases to auto-fill their shopping lists; the company plans to add a navigation feature to show optimized routes through the store to each item on that list.
The report notes that companies still completing their digital transformations are looking for a specific edge, whether it’s innovative service, higher efficiency or more personalization. But post-digital companies are out to surpass the competition by combining these forces to change the way the market itself works — from one market to many custom markets — on-demand and in the moment, just as Chinese e-retail platform JD.com is doing with its “Toplife” platform. The service helps third parties sell through JD by setting up customized stores, providing access to its supply chain with cutting-edge robotics and drone delivery. In partnership with Walmart, a physical store in Shenzhen will offer more than 8,000 products available in person or delivered from the store in under 30 minutes. By offering unprecedented customization and speed, JD is empowering other companies while creating a new market for itself.