Artificial intelligence (AI), technology design that adapts to people, integration with external systems, on-demand work platforms and leadership in uncharted areas of the industry are the key technology for the next three years, according to Accenture.
“Technology advancement and innovation continue to advance and it’s accelerating very quickly. However, there’s a little bit of differentiation. Instead of in the past when people were adapting to technology, what we’re seeing is that technology is being shaped by people to adapt to us, the people,” said JP Palpallatoc, Accenture Digital Lead in the Philippines.
Palpallatoc briefed reporters in Manila and, via teleconference, in Cebu on the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 on Wednesday.
Accenture said in a press statement that the theme of this year’s report is a “call to action for business and technology leaders to actively design and direct technology to augment and amplify human capabilities.”
Global survey of IT executives
The report was based on a survey of 5,400 business and information technology executives from 31 countries across 16 industries. It is meant to identify “priority technology investments over the next few years.”
The report, Palpallatoc said, identified the following key trends:
1) AI is the new UI. AI “is coming of age” in making human interactions with technology “simple and smart.”
AI is increasingly becoming the new user interface (UI) for people interacting with digital systems. Palpallatoc cited the various roles of AI such as curator to suggest options based on user behavior like music recommendations by Spotify; advisor that learns from data and gives suggested course of action like LettuceBot that identifies whether a sprout is a lettuce or weed; and orchestrator that learns from user actions and connects with multiple channels such as what Amazon Alexa does in connecting to various services and devices.
Palpallatoc also said that increasingly, AI will serve as a company’s digital spokesperson, “moving beyond a back-end tool and taking on more sophisticated roles within technology interfaces.”
“Thanks to its powerful simplicity, customers may soon spend more time engaged with a company’s AI than talking to their people,” the report said.
2) Ecosystems as “macrocosms.” Companies are integrating their systems with other platforms.
Palpallatoc cited as example companies’ use of cloud services. He said “companies are realizing that they have to play nice and work with others.”
He also cited as example the investment by Whole Foods on an online shopping platform as a way to access a new digital ecosystem. Accenture said 27 percent of executives “reported that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value.”
3) Workforce marketplace. Increasingly, companies are tapping on-demand work marketplaces to augment its capabilities. Palpallatoc said companies now realize that to remain competitive, the need to tap external talent.
He cited as example the experience of Procter and Gamble, which found success in tapping external talent. He said the result was “very positive” and projects were done faster and better.
“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 85% of executives they surveyed planned to increase use of independent freelance workers over the next year.
4) Design for humans. Rather than people having to change in dealing with technology, companies now realize that tech has to adapt to the needs of people.
Palpallatoc cited as example the case of financial company Betterment, which hides a stock portfolio’s daily performance in its dashboard to shield investors from “short-sighted actions.”
The report said 80% of executives agreed that business “need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be – and shape technology to act as their guide to realize desired outcomes.”
5) The Uncharted. To succeed, businesses must “delve into uncharted territory instead of focusing solely on introducing new products and services,” the report said.
“They should think bigger – seize opportunities to establish rules and standards for entirely new industries,” it added.
Accenture said 74% of the executives in their survey reported that their business is “entering entirely new digital industries that have yet to be defined.”
Biggest impact on Philippines
When asked which of the trends will have the biggest impact on the Philippines, Palpallatoc identified AI, saying he sees a lot of opportunity in it for the country.
But, he said, there are also risks of people losing jobs to AI. Still, the country’s roadmap on business and technology sees a “net growth.”
“There is opportunity,” Palpallatoc said, “The challenge for us is that we need to move the lower-level skilled people up the value chain. They should be able to learn other skills as well: be able to do the mid-level complexity or higher level complexity like doing analytics and other digital skills.”