A Peek at the Near Future: 5 Business Tech Trends for 2016

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5 Business Tech Trends for 2016Recently, Accenture came out with an interesting report on what their surveys had revealed as five distinct near term business related technology trends for 2016. The following is a brief overview and abridged version of the report.

Trend 1

The Internet of Me: Our world, personalized

As everyday objects are going online, so too are experiences— creating an abundance of digital channels that reach deep into every aspect of individuals’ lives. Forward-thinking businesses are changing the ways they build new applications, products, and services. To gain control over these points of access, they are creating highly personalized experiences that engage and exhilarate consumers—without breaching the customer’s trust. The companies that succeed in this new “Internet of Me” will become the next generation of household names.

What’s happening now is that every experience is becoming a digital experience as ordinary “things” become intelligent devices. Today, there are digital parking meters, smart refrigerators, adaptive security systems, and much more. These digital devices enable personalized experiences: there are smart lights that can react to environmental factors to provide individual user experiences. Cars can fine-tune their performance by learning the driver’s habits. Whole sports stadiums have been brought online so individual event-goers can be alerted to shorter lines, offered engaging content, and notified of flash sales on nearby food and merchandise. 

89 percent of business leaders surveyed by Gartner believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016.

Personalization everywhere: Businesses everywhere, not just “tech companies,” are using personalization to build a better experience. Companies integrating personalization with their core product or service are finding a significant competitive advantage. Sixty percent of organizations we surveyed indicate they are seeing a positive ROI on their investments in personalization technologies.

Businesses that embrace the Internet of Me concept will find themselves sustaining higher levels of engagement, and in turn, opening up whole new vistas for growth. For the businesses that don’t soon take advantage of the growing prevalence and constancy of connectivity, their competitors surely will.

As businesses create personalized experiences, they receive troves of personal data about consumers, their habits, and their preferences. To be comfortable sharing their data, consumers must have trust in the other party. This trust acts as a bond between the business and the consumer, and allows product and service adoption to flourish.

To be comfortable sharing their data, consumers must have trust in the other party.

 Trend 2

The Outcome Economy: Hardware producing hard results 

Intelligent hardware is bridging the last mile between the digital enterprise and the physical world. As leading enterprises come face-to-face with the Internet of Things, they are uncovering opportunities to embed hardware and sensors in their digital toolboxes. They are using these highly connected hardware components to give customers what they really want: not more products or services, but more meaningful outcomes. These “digital disrupters” know that getting ahead is no longer about selling things—it’s about selling results. Welcome to the “outcome economy.”

By placing intelligent hardware at the edge—where the digital and physical worlds intersect—84 percent of our Vision survey respondents agree they can gain a deeper level of understanding of both how products are being used and the detailed outcomes customers are trying to achieve.

The shift toward the IoT powers the outcome economy and prioritizes data-rich feedback loops that help companies get to know the outcomes that their customers want and improve performance on the metrics that matter. Today, most companies still make tools that their customers have to configure to create the outcomes they desire. These tools are usually functional, but they often require much more work to satisfy the real needs of customers— such as customizable off-the-shelf software that still requires a team of developers to configure and maintain. Now, for the first time, companies can gain quantifiable, end-to-end insights into the outcomes their customers are trying to achieve and use those insights to develop significantly more effective products.

This new capability in hardware will not only add another layer of insights, but will also help businesses better understand the context in which their customers are operating. This combined benefit will empower managers to make decisions that directly impact customer outcomes.

Now, for the first time, companies can gain quantifiable, end-to-end insights into the outcomes their customers are trying to achieve and use those insights to develop significantly more effective products. 

 Trend 3

The Platform Revolution: Defining ecosystems, redefining industries

Among the Global 2000, digital industry platforms and ecosystems are fueling the next wave of breakthrough innovation and disruptive growth. Increasingly, platform-based companies are capturing more of the digital economy’s opportunities for strong growth and profitability. Rapid advances in cloud and mobility not only are eliminating the technology and cost barriers associated with such platforms, but also are opening up this new playing field to enterprises across industries and geographies.

Today, digital industry platforms are driving the next major wave of technology and business change. But why now? The elimination of barriers—in terms of the technology, cost, and time associated with traditional IT infrastructure and application development— is the primary force driving and enabling this change. According to Gartner, “the cost for service providers to deliver infrastructure will plunge almost 40 percent by 2017.” Rapid advances in digital technologies and the economic leveling that they create are the major reasons why traditional companies can now develop their own digital industry platforms. These enabling technologies include continuing developments in cloud services, mobile platforms as front ends, rapid application development, application programming interfaces (APIs), and other advances.

Platform-driven ecosystems are not a far-future idea. The tools and techniques are coming together today, and the data and sources of data are readily accessible. What’s needed most is a widespread shift in mindset toward platform-based ecosystems. The leaders are making that shift now. An increasingly urgent challenge for other global players: they must quickly determine which platforms and ecosystems will give their organizations a competitive advantage and define their roles in the digital economy.

According to Gartner, “the cost for service providers to deliver infrastructure will plunge almost 40 percent by 2017.”

Trend 4                                                                      

Intelligent Enterprise: Huge data, smarter systems—better business

The next level of operational excellence and the next generation of software services will both emerge from the latest gains in software intelligence. Until now, increasingly capable software has been geared to help employees make better and faster decisions. But with an influx of big data—and advances in processing power, data science, and cognitive technology— software intelligence is helping machines to make even more, better informed decisions. Business and technology leaders must now view software intelligence not as a pilot or a one-off project, but as an across-the-board functionality—one that will drive new levels of evolution and discovery, propelling innovation throughout the enterprise.

At many companies, the quest for this Holy Grail is under way. Their executive teams can cite the studies showing that companies with a data-driven culture are three times more likely to rate themselves as substantially ahead of their peers in financial performance. They understand that the usage of analytics and adoption of a data-driven culture tend to lead to business success. Indeed, 60 percent of global businesses believe that big data will improve their decision-making and competitiveness.

However, the plain fact is that most enterprises are struggling to fully utilize their data—they wrestle not only with the volume of data now available to them, but also with the many complexities of identifying, capturing, categorizing, analyzing, and sharing it throughout the data supply chain. Half of all chief information officers concede that their biggest concerns are solution complexity and integration difficulties. Only 28 percent of businesses believe that they are generating strategic value from the data they collect, and nearly 40 percent admit that they need a plan to take advantage of big data.

Software intelligence must now be seen as a core capability—one that not only can elevate operational excellence throughout the organization, but also can power innovation. Increasingly, decisions made solely by software—whether they are to determine how best to provide customer support or how to optimize the supply chain—will determine the success or failure of companies. Now, it’s up to business leaders to ensure that the software is intelligent enough to consistently make the right decisions.

Put simply, businesses that harness the power and potential of software intelligence will run more efficiently, innovate more rapidly, and serve customers more effectively. Visionary companies will find new ways to get smart software out of the lab and into as many practical scenarios as possible, thereby spurring innovation and raising the bar of operating performance across their organizations. Software intelligence is a game-changer for every business in every industry. Ignoring that fact is, simply, not very smart.

Software intelligence must now be seen as a core capability.

Trend 5

Workforce Reimagined: Collaboration at the intersection of humans and machines

The push to go digital is amplifying the need for humans and machines to do more together. Advances in natural interfaces, wearable devices, and smart machines will present new opportunities for companies to empower their workers through technology. This will also surface new challenges in managing a collaborative workforce composed of both people and machines. Successful businesses will recognize the benefits of human talent and intelligent technology working side by side in collaboration—and they will embrace them both as critical members of the reimagined workforce.

As the field of robotics continues to advance, more machines are becoming capable of not just communicating and augmenting human employees, but also physically working side by side with them. Many enterprises have learned that while machines excel at precision, scale, and consistency, humans are better suited for creativity, contextual understanding, and complex communications. Now, companies can have a division of labor that caters to the strengths of each—and appropriately distributes tasks to maximize the impact of both.

These advances in technology mean that humans now have the opportunity to multiply their efficiency. A blended human and machine workforce is giving companies the ability to automate tasks, improve processes, and contribute to a positive feedback loop—driving increased intelligence, performance, and productivity across the enterprise.

What will it take to realize the full potential of humans and machines working together? Companies must prioritize the training of the blended workforce, helping their human talent grow the skills needed to complement machine capabilities. Human and machine, each on its own, won’t be enough to drive business in the decades to come. Tomorrow’s leading enterprises will be those that reimagine their workforce and effectively blend humans and technology as partners. Get ready for your new digital workforce.

Make no mistake, this “We Economy” will require a much different approach to building applications— one that is liquid, intelligent, and connected. Future applications need to be more nimble. Companies that begin their reinvention now will benefit from applications that can adapt to the pace of business, manage rising complexity and open doors to more interconnected business environments.


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