In its annual outlook of global technology trends, Accenture has identified a 180-degree shift to what it calls the “We Economy” that is re-shaping markets and changing the way we work and live. According to Accenture Technology Vision 2015, pioneering enterprises are tapping into a broad array of other digital businesses, digital customers and even digital devices at the edge of their networks to create new digital “ecosystems.
These leading companies have already begun using technology to transform themselves into digital businesses and are now focusing on combining their industry expertise with the power of digital to reshape their markets. These businesses see great potential to make a difference — and a profit — by operating as ecosystems, not just as individual corporate entities, and driving the emergence of the “We Economy.”
This shift to the “We Economy” was confirmed in a related Accenture global survey of more than 2,000 IT and business executives, which found that four out of five respondents believe that in the future, industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems. While 60% of those surveyed said they plan to engage new partners within their respective industries, 40% said they plan to leverage digital partners outside their industry and 48% said they plan to engage digital technology platform aders.
“In last year’s Technology Vision report we noted how large enterprises were reasserting leadership in their markets by adopting digital to drive their processes more effectively and transform how they go to market, collaborate with partners, engage with customers and manage transactions,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer, Accenture. “Now that digital has become part of the fabric of their operating DNA, they are stretching their boundaries to leverage a broader ecosystem of digital businesses as they shape the next generation of their products, services and business models to effect change on a much broader scale.”
The Internet of Me: Our highly personalized world. 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. The range of emerging channels that companies report they are using or experimenting with to engage customers includes wearables (cited by 62% of survey respondents), connected TVs (68%), connected cars (59%) and smart objects (64%). Forward-thinking businesses are changing the way they build new applications, products and services, and reaping benefits as a result. To gain control over these access points to individuals’ experiences, businesses are creating highly personalized experiences to both engage and exhilarate customers — but having to do it while making sure to not violate customer trust. The majority (60%) are seeing a positive return on their investment in personalization technologies. Companies that succeed in this new “Internet of Me” will become the next generation of household names.
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 Industrial Internet of Things, they are uncovering opportunities to embed hardware and sensors in their digital toolboxes and using these highly connected hardware components to give customers what they really want: not more products or services, but more meaningful outcomes. In fact, 87% of survey respondents acknowledged a greater use of more intelligent hardware, sensors and devices on the edge of networks, leading organizations to increasingly shift from selling products or services to selling outcomes. And 84% of respondents touted a deeper level of understanding of how products are being used and outcomes customers want resulting from embedded intelligence in products. These “digital disrupters” know that getting ahead is no longer about selling things, but about selling results. This is the new “outcome economy.”
Intelligent Enterprise: Huge data + smarter systems = better business. Until now, advanced 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 make even better-informed decisions. This is the era of software intelligence where applications and tools will take on more human-like intelligence, according to eighty percent of our respondents. And 78% of respondents believe software will soon be able to learn and adapt to our changing world and make decisions based on learned experiences. The next level of operational excellence and the next generation of software services will come out of the latest gains in software intelligence, which will drive new levels of evolution and discovery, propelling innovation throughout the enterprise.
“Rather than simply focusing internally, on improving their own operations, successful companies are looking externally to create and become part of digital ecosystems,” said Daugherty. “They’re beginning to see the importance of selling not just products and services, but outcomes — and that requires weaving their businesses into the broader digital fabric that extends to customers, partners, employees and industries.”
Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer, Accenture