Review : Accenture Tech Vision 2018

27 February 2018

I’m a proud alumni of Accenture, having worked for them as my first “proper” job and learnt enormous amounts about life in that period. They are a company that recruit very talented people (like me, obviously) and trust them to do stuff culturally which drives innovation. Clearly its been 15+years since I worked there, but I class a lot of my ex-colleagues as friends and still admire the brand and approach.

Because of my alumni status, I was invited to an overview webinar of their tech vision report (Technology Vision 2018), published recently, which I thought I’d share on the basis that it actually put a slightly different emphasis on tech trends that a lot of the tech companies publish.

The webinar was presented by two of the MD’s at Accenture, Elise Cornville and Marc Carrel-Billiard, who cover Marketing and their Labs respectively. The premise of the event was to walk through Accenture’s take on the current trends in the IT industry, and there were no real technology surprises on the list (Robotics, Virtual Reality, Quantum Computing, Crypto-Currencies/Blockchain, etc)

The bit that made me intrigued however was the context within which these technologies were presented, specifically they put the whole focus on the impact that these technologies will have on day to day life and humanity. As pretentious as this usually sounds within the technology sector, it was really very interesting. They used the phrase “People First” a number of times, explaining that the way technology is heading needs to be driven responsibly, because we are on the cusp of a societal shift which could positively or negatively impact our lives dependent on the decisions we make right now. Deep huh?

Their 5 trends, in their parlance, were as follows:

· “Citizen AI” – the use of robotics to benefit society, redefining the relationship between people and technology. There was a big focus on the responsibilities that come with such an enormous leap into Robotics, and also discussion around the need for decision making transparency so people trust robotics in their day to day lives.

· “Extended Reality” – applying Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality in such a way that “distance” is redefined. Giving people the opportunity to collaborate / travel without leaving their home/workplace (think Ready Player One!)

· “Data Veracity” – ensuring that Trust, source verification and context, is paramount in the wave of fake or manipulated news, especially in the context of robotics as this is all about data based learning. If a robot is taught based on manipulated reality, it might learn bad habits or habits with an agenda! Slightly contradictory to the “extended reality” point….

· "Frictionless Business" – using technology to “Partner at Scale”, ensuring that partnerships and interactions with business are seamless and efficient, trustworthy and intelligent.

· "Internet of Thinking" – beyond the Internet of Things, making the “things” think for themselves such that decision making is applied at source, rather than relying on connectivity and cloud services to define a scenario.

All 5 of these trends were contextualised around their application to benefit society and not to make profit for corporations. Whereas there are some major corporate's making big money in these areas, I think the ones that succeed will be the ones that use this societal context to drive their products forward. All of the above rely on mass adoption, and without a clear benefit to the individual, people just won’t touch the technology. You’re not going to get in a driver-less Uber to go out for a meal if the Uber is “sponsored by KFC”, and accidentally leads you to said restaurant "as an independent".

So the next natural thought is how do you monetise this technology? The value needs to be clear to the user, but in a form that overcomes the natural cynicism that exists around this current societal shift. I don’t think anyone has truly cracked this at scale yet, but once solved, this will be the gold rush for the next generation.

I would recommend you read the report or try and access the webinar content by Accenture. I am an independent, but love the way they have packaged this content, and it gives you a bit of hope for the future regarding technologies role within the species overall.

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