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People-first mentality required for 2016, says experts

02 Feb 2016

A people first approach should be the number one business plan for 2016, according to new research from Accenture, which says in order to capitalise in today’s digital economy, businesses must equip staff with new skills to fully capitalise on innovations.

The report, Accenture Technology Vision 2016, says that because technology advancements are accelerating at an unprecedented rate, dramatically disrupting the workforce, companies that equip employees, partners and consumers with new skills will have unmatched capabilities to create fresh ideas, develop cutting-edge products and services, and disrupt the status quo.

“We’ve identified five technology trends that are critical to digital success,” says Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer.

“Digital means people too and a cornerstone of this year’s Vision is people first,” he says. “Companies that embrace digital can empower their workforce to continuously learn new skills to do more with technology and generate bigger and better business results.”

In a companion survey of more than 3100 business and IT executives worldwide, Accenture found that 33% of the global economy is already impacted by digital. Additionally, 86% of survey respondents anticipate that the pace of technology change will increase at a rapid or unprecedented rate over the next three years.

According to Daugherty, the report highlights how companies can often feel overwhelmed by the pace of technology change, experiencing digital culture shock at the prospect of keeping up with the competition.

However, companies can adopt a people-first approach that will allow them to create new business models that drive digital disruption, he says.

“One example is GE, which established a new approach called FastWorks that connected employees much more closely to customers and ultimately led to the rapid development of innovative solutions that sold well because they met and exceeded customer expectations,” Daugherty explains.

“Additionally, Virgin America, the only airline based in Silicon Valley and the highest rated, has gone so far as to collaborate with its frequent flyers, returning customer loyalty with stock options before the company went public.”

In the report, Accenture identifies five technology trends fuelled by the people first principal that are essential to business success in the digital economy:

Intelligent automation 
Leaders are embracing automation - powered by artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality – to fundamentally change the way their business operates and drive a new, more productive relationship between people and machines. Significant investments are well underway with over 80% of Australian survey respondents acknowledging increased AI-related technology investments compared to two years ago, and 55% of global respondents revealing that they plan on using machine learning and embedded AI solutions like IPsoft Amelia extensively.

Liquid workforce
By exploiting technology to enable workforce transformation, leading companies will create highly adaptable and change-ready environments that are able to meet today’s dynamic digital demands. The competitive advantage offered by a liquid workforce is apparent as survey respondents indicated that “deep expertise for the specialised task at hand” was only the fifth-most-important characteristic they required for employees to perform well in a digital work environment. Other qualities such as ‘the ability to quickly learn’ or ‘the ability to shift gears’ were ranked higher.

Platform economy
Industry leaders are unleashing the power of technology by developing platform-based business models to capture new growth opportunities, driving the most profound change in the global macroeconomic environment since the Industrial Revolution. This is reinforced by 84% of Australian survey respondents who agree that platform-based business models will become part of their organisation’s core growth strategy within three years.

Predictable disruption
Fast-emerging digital ecosystems are creating the foundation for the next wave of disruption by straddling markets and blurring industry boundaries; forward-thinking leaders can proactively predict these ecosystem trajectories to gain a competitive advantage. Companies are already significantly or moderately experiencing ecosystem disruption, with 81% of global survey respondents indicating that they are seeing this in their industry.

Digital trust
Trust is a cornerstone of the digital economy, said 87% of Australian survey respondents. To gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems and regulators in this new landscape, businesses must focus on digital ethics as a core strategy; better security alone won’t be enough.

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