How Can Businesses Succeed in the Digital Revolution?

Technology and digital platforms have become a major force in the economy, with the leading 15 public platform enterprises accounting for $2.6 trillion in international market capitalization. According to Accenture, a prominent consulting services company, it’s not enough for businesses to consume increasing amounts of technology in the digital age. Instead, Accenture has found that the most successful businesses in the digital age develop comprehensive and flexible digital cultures that enable stakeholders to achieve more with technology.

To succeed in the digital revolution, enterprises are tasked with leveraging technology to adapt quickly, create new solutions, disrupt established processes, and produce change. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 report identifies five technology trends that are impacting the people-driven digital economy and discusses how companies are capitalizing on these trends to realize a digital advantage. Keep reading to learn more about the five trends.

Intelligent Automation

automatic factoryIn its Technology Vision 2016 report, Accenture identifies intelligent automation as the first emerging technology trend, explaining that it is a catalyst for innovation and new growth. Artificial intelligence and machines will redefine what is possible and allow employees to tackle new jobs by integrating data, systems, and people. By embracing automation, enterprises will be able to capitalize on the rapid pace of digital transformation while developing a digital setting in which they have a competitive advantage.

Accenture notes that intelligent automation is being implemented in a variety of industries to generate value for both businesses and society. For example, law enforcement departments use facial recognition systems with computer vision to verify or determine the identity of a person from a video or digital image. The financial industry advances fraud prevention and compliance efforts by using natural language processing to screen electronic communications across financial institutions.

On top of performing tasks more quickly and efficiently, intelligent automation allows companies to establish new services and products on an unprecedented scale. Leading companies have further discovered that intelligent automation can empower an increasingly productive relationship between machines and people.

Platform Economy

As the digital revolution progresses, industry leaders are creating new technology platforms and taking advantage of another emerging technology trend by implementing corresponding platform-oriented business models. Accenture notes that the digital economy is expected to account for 25 percent of the global economy by 2020, with public platform companies attracting substantial capital investment because of their digital assets and platform ecosystems. As such, Accenture asserts that platform business models have triggered the most substantial disruptive change in the world’s macroeconomic structure since the Industrial Revolution.

While tech companies and digital startups are best known for using platform strategies, companies in every industry can benefit from having a platform strategy. As such, industry leaders in all sectors, from health care to auto, are implementing their own. Through surveys, Accenture also found that 40 percent of executives believe that business success is closely linked to establishing digital partnership ecosystems and a platform-based business model. Another 82 percent of respondents think platforms will unite organizations in the digital economy.

Predictable Disruption

hard driveWhereas technology disruptions have previously been unpredictable, Accenture posits that companies can now evaluate digital ecosystem trajectories and create long-term ecosystem strategies. Organizations have become familiar with unexpected disruption in recent years, but ecosystem disruption offers an advantage because it is linked to business models and industries, making it more predictable. However, Accenture notes that industry boundaries are disappearing, and an ecosystem developing in one industry can quickly trigger disruption in another.

With extensive resources and industry influence, larger enterprises will be better able to forecast ecosystem trajectories. Tracking ecosystem disruption gives companies the power to seize new opportunities, develop growth strategies, and assume new roles.

Digital Trust

Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 report also highlights digital trust as a trend, and more importantly, the foundation of the digital economy. As every industry goes digital, businesses have to develop ethical and secure products and services to obtain the trust of regulators, ecosystems, and consumers.

Digital transformation creates new risks, and companies across all industries have responded with significant investments in security. Although most companies are currently focused on privacy and data ethics, Accenture highlights the importance of digital ethics, which involves the operational practices where data is used to impact real-world outcomes.

Cyber risk insurers now require additional security controls, and companies are best served when they develop comprehensive policies, incentives, and training related to digital and data ethics.  With transparent operations and trustworthy offerings, companies can earn brand recognition and loyalty from consumers.

Liquid Workforce

trainingEven when companies are eager to invest in technologies and platforms, success in the digital age also requires investment in the workforce. With an adaptable or liquid workforce, companies are better able to drive change and respond to disruption.

The Technology Vision 2016 report states that companies can cultivate a liquid workforce by implementing continual training opportunities to help employees develop new skills. To demonstrate the power of training, Accenture cited a study which found that an annual investment of $1,500 in training per employee helps companies realize a 24 percent higher average profit margin than companies that do not invest in training.

In addition to training, companies can build a liquid workforce and empower employees by introducing technologies that facilitate collaboration and innovation during projects. Enterprises can also use workplace technologies to better place employees, which improves retention and cuts hiring costs.