IT and business leaders must build digital twins, democratize technology, and set new rules for “build your own work environment.”
Company leaders should stop waiting for the new normal to arrive and merge business and tech strategies into one cohesive plan, according to the latest Technology Vision report from Accenture. These are the vital next steps to create a successful post-pandemic strategy and to master change.
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For most companies, the pandemic was a harsh reality check for digital transformation work, according to the new report, “Leaders Wanted: Masters of Change at a Moment of Truth.” Most organizations were not moving as fast as they thought. 2020 made the lack of progress painfully clear and “brought the need for a different path forward into clear focus.” Companies that want to succeed must speed up digital transformation and reimagine everything from people to data to architectures to ecosystems. Now is the time to build the new normal and go all-in on change, according to the report:
“Small pilots and incremental scaling are an obsolete luxury, and the friction between research, development, and large-scale deployment must diminish or disappear.”
The report identifies five trends shaping technology decisions and strategies in 2021:
- Stronger ground
- Mirrored world
- I, technologist
- Anywhere, everywhere
- From me to we
Here is what those trends mean and how they will affect business decisions.
Stronger grounds: Competing on architecture
There are so many options now for building an enterprise tech architecture that companies will be able to “custom-tailor every layer,” according to the report. Companies need “technical wealth” to pull this off, which means having team members with expertise in cloud strategies and microservices. Another key element of this trend is aligning business and technology strategies to the point of being “indistinguishable” from each other.
Mirrored world: Building digital twins
These “living models” will duplicate factories, supply chains, and product life cycles, to name only a few examples. Digital twins will provide a new source of business intelligence that executives can use to ask and answer “big-picture questions critical to their survival and reimagine how they operate, collaborate, and innovate.” The caveat to this trend is that companies must build trusted data practices to go along with these digital twins and make sure that incomplete or bad data doesn’t do more harm than good.
I, technologist: The democratization of technology
Accenture puts natural language processing, low-code platforms, and robotic process automation in this category of technology that allows employees in all departments to build solutions. The report describes this trend as the “grassroots layer to enterprises’ innovation strategies.” People closest to day-to-day business problems will be able to find smaller-scale tech solutions while IT handles major implementations. This trend will help reduce the skills gap but will force leaders to rethink how IT teams work with teams from other departments.
Anywhere, everywhere: Bring your own environment
As the end of the pandemic starts to come into focus, companies have to rethink remote work policies put in place at the beginning of this worldwide health crisis. The challenge now is to set “bring your own environment” policies to account for the security ramifications of remote work. Leaders will have to readjust the company culture as well and make sure that “remote and in-person employees are recognized equally.”
From me to we: Multiparty systems
This final trend was driven by the pandemic but has much wider implications, according to the report. At first multiparty systems made contact tracing and frictionless payment possible. Now, this approach to building solutions will improve resiliency and set new “ecosystem-forward standards” for all industries.
Accenture uses the “circular supply chain” as an example of a multiparty system (MPS). This collaboration was created by Mastercard, Amazon Web Services, Everledger, Mercy Corps, and Accenture to make global supply chains more sustainable and equitable.
The effort combines blockchain-based data sharing, biometric identity verification, payment capabilities, and resource planning. The goal was to take on problems of provenance, authenticity, and traceability and shift business toward “small-scale producers upholding sustainable practices.”
Accenture sees this work, along with environmental impact assessments from food producer Danone and Walmart’s audit of its diversity and hiring practices, as a way for businesses to use technology to “attack some of the deepest-set challenges the world faces.”
To build these multiparty systems, companies must prioritize partnerships and industry-focused clouds and think beyond traditional industry boundaries.