From Digitally Disrupted to Digital Disrupter: Accenture's 2014 technology predictions close

Beth Gladstone
Beth Gladstone
In Online Innovation
16th April 2014
From Digitally Disrupted to Digital Disrupter: Accenture's 2014 technology predictions

Accenture’s latest technology report looks at some of the emerging digital trends that will affect large businesses in the upcoming years. It looks in depth at many of the topics we've discussed previously, such as the rise of the Intrepreneur and the Internet of Things, with the primary message that all large enterprises are now embracing digital as a driver for success. This aligns with our vision for the future - that corporates and agencies alike, are starting to look towards product innovation and other forms of digital technology to effect change and growth within their businesses.

So how does Accenture think this will happen? Here’s a quick summary of the top 6 trends they expect to see pushing this shift:

Trend 1: The blurring of digital and physical

This is something we’ve already discussed in length on the Codegent blog; wearable devices that monitor human responses, smart objects in the home that perform data-driven tasks and other devices that will make our lives easier (and us lazier!). This is perhaps the ultimate digital dream for most companies; a real-time connection to their user’s world and data which can help them to respond more quickly and accurately than ever before. Since our pivot towards product innovation at the beginning of the year, we’ve already started to work on projects and partnerships that blur the digital and physical world and we agree that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Trend 2: The rise of the borderless enterprise

Over the last decade, digital technology has undoubtedly made collaborative working easier and companies leaner. At Codegent we have an office in Bangkok and employees who work from home on a daily basis. This makes the use of digital tools such as Hipchat, Hackpad and Google Docs essential to collaborating successfully.

Larger enterprises are attempting to adopt agile ways of working but the ‘Borderless Enterprise’ also focuses on crowdsourcing solutions, which allow the workforce to extend even further than just ‘inhouse employees’. Now, when an organisation faces a problem or needs a resource, they can easily source one from what Accenture calls the ‘liquid workforce’ - a pool of talent from all around the world, willing to work on a specific problem or task for a day, a month or even a year.

An example we use is the site Fiverr, where we source voiceovers for our children’s apps brand, Kizzu. Other examples include Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding site for entrepreneurs and sites such as Elance, where you can employ worldwide freelancers to work on a specific task or project.

Trend 3: Data supply chain

While the meaning of the phrase ‘Big Data’ has almost been lost alongside other marketing clichés from the past few years, those who have embraced it are undoubtedly reaping the benefits. Only one in five companies currently integrate data across the whole of their enterprise and Accenture predicts that 2014 will be the year this changes, with businesses treating big data more like a ‘supply chain’ that flows through every process.

Like everything, this will not be something which comes easily to some large enterprises. Data integration is is a multi-tiered process that requires the pulling together of many different strands. First, to select the data that is most frequently accessed, secondly to replace time-consuming data curation processes with learned algorithms, thirdly to identify any data needs that are currently not met and finally, to build a strategy and data platform, using external sources that compliment existing ones.

Trend 4: Harnessing hyperscale

Following almost a decade of software innovation, Accenture predicts that we are about to enter a world where hardware will be more crucial than ever for digital businesses. Hardware never went away really, but in our ‘all or nothing’ culture it’s easy for certain technologies to be eclipsed by a rush of others, particularly as cloud storage systems have evolved.

For companies to truly evolve into digital businesses they will need to adopt what Accenture labels as “hyperscale” computing systems and data centers, which allow them to process large amounts of data at speed, such as the ones used at data-reliant organisations such as Amazon and Google. We generally think of such data-reliant companies as ‘always on’ - the fallout of Microsoft, Facebook, Google or Amazon going down, even for a few minutes, would have an almost devastating effect on revenue and reputation. Yet, as almost every industry begins to harness the power of ‘big data’ the demand for hyperscale solutions that can collect, store and analyse data multiple times per hour, or even second, will become much more of a priority.

Trend 5: Apps and Software as a core competency

There’s definitely an emerging trend of large corporates attempting to embody the characteristics usually associated with smaller organisations. One of the ways this is apparent, is from the shift in large enterprise software systems towards a more custom apps-based approach.

Accenture puts this down to ‘rising consumer-grade experiences’, as both customers and employees, covet the simple, intelligent apps they use in everyday life, for professional use. As a product innovation studio, we have definitely seen a rise in the number of corporates looking to develop a bespoke product or service for consumer or internal use. Yet, in our experience, product and software innovation calls for quick decision-making and agile methods of testing and pivoting, something larger organisations can rarely accommodate. To get around this, some organisations will redefine processes in the upcoming year, some will use business incubators and some will commission, or enter into partnerships with product agencies like ourselves. Whichever route they take, it’s clear that simpler, more modular, custom applications are definitely going to become an essential part of the enterprise’s digital future.

Trend 6: Architecting resilience

This trend outlines another shift in thought process, where more businesses are maintaining the ‘always-on’ mentality to provide good service around the clock. This makes sense in a digital era, yet larger enterprises must also be aware that such digital transformation is synonymous with an increased rise of cyber threats. If you missed it, take a look at the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on Basecamp last month which is a great example of why resilience to failure and attack must become an essential part of company architecture. According to the report, engineers at companies such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo and Google are constantly deployed to try and find faults with their own IT systems so that they can be anticipated and accommodated - ideally, before they're found by someone else.

Moving large enterprises, built on process, lengthy sign-off procedures and ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ mentalities, into an increasingly digital world, is never going to be an easy task. However, you only have to look at Blockbuster vs. Netflix and WHSmith vs. Amazon to see that businesses must embrace digital if they are to stay ahead. Now is the time for organisations to look at their companies and reexamine the roles that traditional methods, technologies and data systems play in them. As the report concludes, only by moving from ‘digital disrupted’ to ‘digital disrupter’ will they go someway to safeguarding their success.