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Five trends critical for digital success – and they all involve people

New technology brings new fears. Will it take jobs from people like me? Can I still provide value in a world driven by machines? Does my company still need people like me?

As technology continues to advance rapidly, it will change the way we work. But changing technology isn’t something to be feared. Rather than replace people or make their roles redundant, the technology of tomorrow will exist to empower people – although roles will change.

"As advanced digital technologies continue to drive competitiveness, digital culture and talent will be the crucial differentiators to an organisation’s success."
Jane Livesey, Managing Director, Accenture Technology in Australia and New Zealand

The new trends critical for digital success

Video thanks to Accenture Technology

The work we have done for Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 shows embracing the digital economy is about more than just consuming new technology.

Successful organisations in today’s advanced digital economy are those which enable their people to accomplish more with technology. They create corporate cultures with new business processes which give employees the opportunity to adapt to advanced technology.

As advanced digital technologies continue to drive competitiveness, digital culture and talent will be the crucial differentiators to an organisation’s success.

Below are five key trends critical for digital success, reinforcing the fact that along with new technologies, people will be crucial to an organisation’s success in the new digital landscape.

INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION

Siemens has a manufacturing plant where the machines largely organise themselves, supply chains automatically link themselves together and orders are directly converted into manufacturing information.

While it seems like this plant would reduce the need for people, the plant actually requires 1,150 employees to support it – it’s just they are in new high-value roles related to programming, monitoring and machine maintenance.

Powered by artificial intelligence such as this, the next wave of automation solutions will gather large volumes of data across a range of different systems to create solutions weaving systems, data and people together.

Intelligent automation will be a launch pad for new employee growth and innovation allowing them to complete more value driven tasks.  

LIQUID WORKFORCE

Leading organisations will use technology to enable an adaptable, change-ready and responsive liquid workforce. GE recently introduced a new approach called FastWorks, eliminating rigid approval processes which previously prevented employees from making changes to their projects or quickly switching direction.

With this new methodology, GE was able to build a new regulation-compliant diesel engine for ships nearly two years ahead of its competitors.

In Australia, this trend is also on the rise, with ANZ announcing last year all roles in Australia and New Zealand would be considered flexible.

In line with this, the Technology Vision 2016 survey found almost more than a third of Australian executives (37 per cent) believe a proportion of workers in their organisation will shift towards more flexible, multi-skilled employees.

THE PLATFORM ECONOMY

The next wave of disruptive innovation will arise from the technology enabled, platform-driven ecosystems now taking shape across industries.

Bank of New York Mellon has recently launched its NEXEN platform which consolidates solutions from BNY Mellon as well as selecting third parties and clients into one intuitive platform.

The platform empowers the bank’s clients to be more flexible, secure and efficient, as well as generating predictive data and insights which will allow BNY Mellon to anticipate clients’ needs.

In Australia, almost half of surveyed executives (47 per cent) strongly believe platforms will be the ‘glue’ bringing organisations together in the digital economy.

As such, successful organisations will need to equip their employees to work with these ecosystems and embrace the changes they produce.

PREDICTABLE DISRUPTION

Every organisation understands the transformational power of digital. The frontrunners, however, will anticipate and embrace the disruption produced by emerging technologies, making it part of their corporate DNA.

By predicting disruption, organisations will be able to create new opportunities for people. Take Visa, for example, which has partnered with Accenture to envision the future of the connected car, one which embeds commerce into the Internet of Things.

By combining leading edge payment security, wireless technologies, sensors and Bluetooth, consumers are able to place grocery orders with a single touch on the car dashboard and, thanks to Bluetooth sensors, by the time they arrive at the store the payment is completed and the goods are ready to go.

Australia still has some catching up to do but over a third of Australian executives (38 per cent) believe the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet will cause complete transformation in their industry, a statistic much higher than the global average of 25 per cent.

DIGITAL TRUST

With the rise of technology, digital risks like data breaches and improper data handling are pervasive and organisations need to establish digital trust with their employees and their customers.

Focusing solely on delivering better cyber security won’t be enough to gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems and regulators – leading organisations will need to make digital ethics a core part of their organisation.

Following its iCloud breach in 2014, Apple has been making an effort to be transparent in how it uses and secures customer data. New platforms like Apple Pay and Health Kit have strong cyber security and ethics embedded to give customers confidence their digital footprints are secure and private.

This is a lead Australian companies should follow, with Accenture’s survey finding while 44 per cent of Australian executives claim to be leaders in their industry when it comes to the ethical handling of data, almost half believe they are exposed to more risks than they can handle.

Further digital trust will enable both customers and employees to be more secure with an organisation.

Change to technology can be scary, bringing uncertainty to traditional roles and upending conventional processes. However, instead of being feared, technology should be embraced as a means to improve and enhance the power of people.

By harnessing new technology and placing greater importance on the development of people, organisations will be better equipped to thrive in the digital economy.

Jane Livesey is the Managing Director of Accenture Technology in Australia and New Zealand

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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