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Accenture thinks that the future of technology is centered around people. It believes that human needs will be the common thread for the rapid advance of technologies such as artificial intelligence.
The technology global consulting firm is releasing its annual forecast report, dubbed Technology for People, as part of its annual predictions today. The report states that we are beginning to see the emergence of technology for people, by people — technology that seamlessly anticipates our needs and delivers hyperpersonalized experiences.
“The pace of technology change is breathtaking, bringing about the biggest advancements since the dawn of the Information Age,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer, in a statement. “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’re optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies.”
Daugherty talked about the trends at an event on Wednesday night in San Francisco. I’ve added his comments into the descriptions of the predictions below.
As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 5,400 business and tech executives worldwide. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents (86 percent) said that while individual technologies are rapidly advancing, it is the multiplier effect of these technologies that is creating innovation breakthroughs.
The Technology Vision details how — with advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics — humans can now design technology that’s capable of learning to think more like people and to constantly align to and help advance their wants and needs. This human-centered technology approach pays off for businesses, as leading companies will transform relationships from provider to partner, while simultaneously transforming internally.
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging trends that are essential to business success in today’s digital economy. Here’s each one:
1. AI is the new UI
AI is coming of age, tackling problems both big and small by making interactions simple and smart. AI is becoming the new user interface (UI), underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents agree that AI will revolutionize the way they glean information from and interact with customers.
Daughtery said that Amazon’s Alexa voice-controlled AI is a good example of how you’ll communicate by talking to your computers.
2. Design for humans
Technology design decisions are being made by humans, for humans. Technology adapts to how we behave and learns from us to enhance our lives, making them richer and more fulfilling. Eighty percent of executives surveyed agree that organizations need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be — and to shape technology to act as their guide to realize desired outcomes.
Daugherty said that leaders should make decisions about things like automation by taking people into account, and paying attention to things like fixing education and giving workers lifelong learning.
3. Ecosystems are macrocosms
Platform companies that provide a single point of access to multiple services have completely broken the rules for how companies operate and compete. Companies don’t just need a platform strategy, they need a rich and robust ecosystem approach to lead in this new era of intelligence. Already, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of executives surveyed reported that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value.
Daugherty said that General Motors’ alliance with Lyft, the ride-sharing company, is a good example. GM is making cars available to Lyft drivers at no cost or deep discounts if they sign up to become Lyft drivers. That’s an example of getting people into a new career with a minimal amount of friction.
4. Manage the workforce marketplace
The number of on-demand labor platforms and online work-management solutions is surging. 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. Case in point: 85 percent of executives surveyed said they plan to increase their organization’s use of independent freelance workers over the next year.
Daugherty said that there are new kinds of work structures, like liquid work forces where contractors come and go. Those can make a lot of sense for companies that see surges and ebbs in demand.
5. Explore the uncharted
To succeed in today’s ecosystem-driven digital economy, businesses must delve into uncharted territory. Instead of focusing solely on introducing new products and services, they should think much bigger — seizing opportunities to establish rules and standards for entirely new industries. In fact, 74 percent of the executives surveyed said that their organization is entering entirely new digital industries that have yet to be defined.
Again, Daugherty said that new industries are being created. He noted one startup is creating microbes that can do jobs like eat waste.
Accenture also shared predictions for what would be hot at CES 2017, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas earlier this month.
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