5 tech trends to focus on for better customer and stakeholder relationships

In order to avoid a tech-clash, your business should devote attention to AI, robotics, and other key trends, according to the Accenture Technology Vision 2020 report.

Digital technologies are now woven into all aspects of life and, if companies are to continue to compete and succeed, they need to change their focus because it is out of sync with employee and customer expectations, according to the Accenture Technology Vision 2020 report.

The main theme of the 20th annual Accenture report is that a "tech-clash" is underway. The term tech-clash refers to a clash between business and technology models that are incongruous with people's needs and expectations, according to the 2020 Accenture report, We, The Post-Digital People: Can your enterprise survive the tech-clash? (PDF).

Characterizing the past eight years as "digital experimentation" and scaling technologies in all parts of the company, last year was the "post-digital environment," said Paul Daugherty, Accenture's chief technology and innovation officer, during a webcast on Tuesday highlighting the report's findings. 

Now, companies are struggling to find value from their investments in digital technologies, and only 10% believe those investments are paying off, he said. Another 76% of executives believe their business won't exist in five years if they don't scale artificial intelligence, Daugherty said.  

SEE: Digital transformation: An IT pro's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

People care deeply about where companies are sourcing their goods, whether they are harming the environment and society, and whether they are keeping their data private, said Michael Blitz, managing director of Accenture Technology Vision.

There is a clash because the promise of what technology can do does not match the value of what technology can give, Blitz said.

Companies must shift their mindset from "just because" to "trust because" and reexamine their fundamental business and technology models, Daugherty said.

The report cites startup Inrupt as an example of a disruptive company that is already taking steps to address the gap between people's expectations and today's standards. The company's data-linking architecture, Solid, is designed to give people more control over their personal information by allowing them to store and use their data across the web through "pods," according to the report. Users could decide where their pods are hosted and determine which companies or machines can access them--revoking or deleting their information at any time, the Accenture report said.

SEE: Digital dexterity: What it is, why your organization needs it, and how CIOs can lead the charge (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to defuse a tech-clash

The Accenture Technology Vision 2020 report identifies five key trends it maintains companies must address over the next three years to defuse a tech-clash and realize new forms of business value to create stronger, more trusting relationships with stakeholders.

The I in Experience. Organizations will need to design personalized experiences that turn passive audiences into active participants. The majority of business and IT executives surveyed (85%) believe that competing successfully in this new decade requires organizations to elevate their relationships with customers as partners.

AI and me. Artificial intelligence "should be an additive contributor to how people perform their work, rather than a backstop for automation." As AI capabilities grow, enterprises must make AI an integral part of the process, with trust and transparency at its core. Currently, only 37% of organizations report using inclusive design or human-centric design principles to support human-machine collaboration.

The dilemma of smart things. Assumptions about who owns a product are being challenged in a world entering a state of "forever beta." As enterprises seek to introduce a new generation of products driven by digital experiences, addressing this new reality will be critical to success. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of executives report that their organizations' connected products and services will have more, or significantly more, updates over the next three years.

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 its future through the lens of robotics. Executives are split in their views of how their employees will embrace robotics: 45% say their employees will be challenged to figure out how to work with robots, while 55% believe that their employees will easily figure out how to work with them.

Innovation DNA. Many enterprises have access to an unprecedented amount of disruptive technology, such as distributed ledgers, AI, extended reality, and quantum computing. To manage it all--and evolve at the speed demanded by the market today--organizations will need to establish their own unique innovation DNA. More than three-quarters (76%) of executives believe that the stakes for innovation have never been higher, so getting it "right" will require new ways of innovating with ecosystem partners.

The Technology Vision 2020 report includes interviews with technology leaders and industry experts, nearly 100 Accenture business leaders, and the results of a global online survey of 6,074 business and IT executives.

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