Redefining technology to create the post-pandemic future

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    CAPTION: AI and digital twins play a major role the tech-centered post pandemic future. (PHOTO FROM BENTLEY SYSTEMS)

    THE negative disruption of the pandemic caused a global economic meltdown, as well as social and personal upheavals. Now, almost a year after the health crisis began, technologists have noticed how much the digital gap has widened and realized what technologies can be used to redirect the future, damaged by the pandemic.

    At the Accenture Technology Vision 2021 media session recently, some of these technologies were presented but in the backdrop of how leadership—where the boldest, most visionary leaders will thrive—will cause the shift from reacting to the crisis, to reinventing what comes next.

    “Responding to the changes brought about by the pandemic centers on both technology and the ability to deploy that technology in the most efficient, possibly most creative ways will not only determine business survival but also progress to the future,” JP Palpallatoc, Accenture’s Data, AI, and Next 5 Technologies Lead in the Philippines explained as he emphasized how technology was a lifeline during the global pandemic.

    By enabling new ways of working and doing business, creating new interactions and experiences, and improving health and safety, technology forever changed expectations and behaviors and created entirely new realities across every industry.

    Palpallatoc proceeded to discuss how enterprises who have successfully used technology to master change will define the future, quoting from the 21st annual technology report “Leaders Wanted: Masters of Change at a Moment of Truth, from Accenture which predicted the key technology trends that will shape businesses and industries over the next three years.

    The report also outlines how leading enterprises are compressing a decade of digital transformation into one or two years, prompted not by the pandemic but by deliberate actions from their management. The pandemic merely speeded up this transformation wherein leaders are growing revenues 5x faster than laggards now, versus only 2x faster between 2015 to 2018. The result is a wave of companies racing to reinvent themselves and use technology innovations to shape the new realities they face.

    “The global pandemic pushed a giant fast forward button to the future. Many organizations stepped up to use technology in extraordinary ways to keep their businesses and communities running – at a pace they thought previously impossible – while others faced the stark reality of their shortcomings, lacking the digital foundation needed to rapidly pivot,” Paul Daugherty, group chief executive – Technology and chief technology officer at Accenture said.

    Accenture surveyed more than 6,200 business and technology leaders for the Technology Vision report, and 92 percent report that their organization is innovating with an urgency and call to action this year. And 91 percent of executives agree capturing tomorrow’s market will require their organization to define it.

    Shaping the future requires three directions. First, leadership that recognizes and demands technology leadership. This means putting technology at the forefront of their business strategy. Second, it needs leaders who won’t wait for a new normal but instead build new realities using radically different mindsets and models. Finally, leaders will embrace a broader responsibility as global citizens, deliberately designing and applying technology to create positive impacts far beyond the enterprise to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.

    “We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn this moment of truth for technology into a moment of trust – embracing the power of exponential technology change to completely reimagine and rebuild the future of business and human experience.”

    The Technology Vision report also identifies five key trends that companies will need to address over the next three years to accelerate and master change in all parts of their business:

    Stack Strategically: Architecting a Better Future – A new era of industry competition is dawning – one where companies compete on their IT systems architecture. But building and wielding the most competitive technology stack means thinking about technology differently, making business and technology strategies indistinguishable. Eighty-nine percent of executives believe that their organization’s ability to generate business value will increasingly be based on the limitations and opportunities of their technology architecture.

    Mirrored World: The Power of Massive, Intelligent, Digital Twins Leaders are building intelligent digital twins to create living models of factories, supply chains, product lifecycles, and more. Bringing together data and intelligence to represent the physical world in a digital space will unlock new opportunities to operate, collaborate, and innovate. Sixty-five percent of executives surveyed expect their organization’s investment in intelligent digital twins to increase over the next three years.

    I, Technologist: The Democratization of Technology – Powerful capabilities are now available to people across business functions, adding a grassroots layer to enterprises’ innovation strategies. Now, every employee can be an innovator, optimizing their work, fixing pain points, and keeping the business in lockstep with new and changing needs. Eighty-eight percent of executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation across their organization.

    Anywhere, Everywhere: Bring Your Own Environment – The single biggest workforce shift in living memory has positioned businesses to expand the boundaries of the enterprise. When people can “bring your own environment” they have the freedom to seamlessly work from anywhere whether that’s at home, the office, the airport, partners’ offices, or somewhere else. In this model, leaders can rethink the purpose of working at each location and lean into the opportunity to reimagine their business in this new world. Eighty-one percent of executives agree that leading organizations in their industry will start shifting from a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ to ‘Bring Your Own Environment’ workforce approach.

    From Me to We: A Multiparty System’s Path Through Chaos The demand for contact tracing, frictionless payments, and new ways of building trust brought into sharp focus what had been left undone with enterprises’ existing ecosystems. Multiparty systems can help businesses gain greater resilience and adaptability; unlock new ways to approach the market; and set new, ecosystem-forward standards for their industries. Ninety percent of executives surveyed state that multiparty systems will enable their ecosystems to forge a more resilient and adaptable foundation to create new value with their organization’s partners.

    Prioritizing technology innovation in response to a rapidly changing world has never been more important. Consider the restaurant industry: 60% of restaurants listed as ‘temporarily closed’ on Yelp in July were permanently out of business by September. Through the chaos, Starbucks emerged as a leader, using technology to expand customer and retail channels.

    By August, three million new users downloaded its app, and mobile ordering and drive-thru pick-up accounted for 90 percent of sales. As demand surged, it deployed an integrated ticket management system to combine orders from its app, Uber Eats and drive-thru customers into a single workflow for baristas.

    Starbucks also introduced a new espresso machine with sensors to track how much coffee was being poured and predict necessary maintenance. This is a powerful illustration of technology as the core enabler of a company’s agile, resilient and successful response to change.

    “In the realm of manufacturing, for example, the actual process to make products will still continue in a factory, but controlling and managing it through intelligent digital twins is an example of how technologies can intertwine to improve efficiency and productivity,” Palpallatoc explained responding to a question from Malaya Business Insight. He added that though some industries will need factories and facilities, rapidly evolving technologies like 3D printing may change that landscape.

    “In the realm of manufacturing, for example, the actual process to make products will still continue in a factory, but controlling and managing it through intelligent digital twins is an example of how technologies can intertwine to improve efficiency and productivity,” Palpallatoc explained responding to a question from Malaya Business Insight. He added that though some industries will need factories and facilities, rapidly evolving technologies like 3D printing may change that landscape.

    “We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn this moment of truth for technology into a moment of trust – embracing the power of exponential technology change to completely reimagine and rebuild the future of business and human experience,” Daugherty concludes.

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