by Diana Bersohn

How CIOs can master key tech trends to drive change

Mar 15, 2017
Artificial IntelligenceCIOEmerging Technology

Accenture’s 2017 Technology Vision examines opportunities for CIOs to harness technology to help workers achieve more

4 tech trends primary
Credit: Thinkstock

Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace. The convergence of business and technology across everything we do is both exciting and challenging to business and technology leaders. But CIOs don’t have to get swept up in the maelstrom. Rather than thinking about how technology will change the way we work, CIOs need to think about harnessing that technology and using it to change the way we work to achieve more.

Accenture’s 2017 Technology Vision looks at IT trends and innovations that people will apply to shape business in the next three years. Let’s explore how CIOs should establish core competencies that align with these trends to become an agent of change in the digital era.

1. AI is the new UI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now part of the core team—and the role of AI is only going to expand as people direct and control it to meet their needs and goals. CIOs must take steps to maximize the value of AI. These actions include better managing how humans work with machines, building a workforce that uses machine learning to improve processes and outcomes, developing strong technology platform skills, fostering basic statistical competencies and focusing on problem-solving abilities so that employees can exercise judgment on challenging decisions.  

AI will become the new user interface underpinning people’s natural and simple transactions and interactions with systems, delivering value at each connection made.In fact, the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 companion survey showed that 79 percent of IT and business executives agree that AI will help accelerate technology adoption throughout their organizations.

2. Ecosystem power plays

Ecosystems are gaining power as more companies are integrating their core business functionalities with third parties and their platforms. As such, organizations must decide which ecosystems to join, and also figure out the role they want to play in that ecosystem. The leaders are using these relationships to build their role in new digital ecosystems and take advantage of the capabilities gained by working with partners and collaborators. Already, more than a quarter (27 percent) of the executives Accenture surveyed report that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value.

CIOs must create their own ecosystems by working with people in the broader enterprise, not just the IT function. In the past, CIOs could focus primarily on what happened within the four walls of the IT shop. Now, the prevailing trend of technology becoming embedded in business processes and even converging with the business has dissolved the walls between IT and the business. To maximize the ecosystem around them, CIOs must make the shift to more of an outward focus that is centered on collaboration across the enterprise, which will in turn increase growth, accelerate innovation and time to market, and drive additional business value.

3. Workforce marketplace

Technology has already had a dramatic impact on the workforce, making it more fluid. Traditional hierarchies and workplace models are dissolving, transforming into a digital marketplace of skill sets available on demand.

CIOs must use this new model to their advantage and get in front of this trend. This includes restructuring their systems to support this new fluidity and manage all workers – both internal and external – in a rapid and agile fashion. Rather than assuming a fixed, long-term employee base, how can the business experiment with crowdsourcing and identify pockets of work that can be done on demand? For instance, are there short-term projects that require a unique, scarce skill set? Think of the projects where you need to scale fast, and don’t have the skills in-house to do so.

4. Design for humans

Technology designed specifically for individual human behavior is the new frontier of digital experiences. When IT designers account for unique human behavior, it improves the quality and effectiveness of technology solutions. By considering and responding to human behavior, CIOs can enable their businesses to create rich, responsive journeys with both customers and employees, transforming relationships into true partnerships.

From an internal perspective, as companies struggle to attract and retain top talent, they need to digitize the employee experience within the organization. Technology can help enhance employee experiences by digitizing day-to-day functions, like benefits and payroll, as well as providing digital collaboration tools and unified communications. These types of digital experiences increase employee satisfaction. When employees are happy, they stay—and this leads to cost savings. Replacing an employee can cost a business more than 20 percent of that individual’s salary.

Leading the intelligent enterprise

The continuously evolving digital culture creates challenges and opportunities for organizations worldwide. However, as technology becomes more sophisticated, CIOs must use it to disrupt conventional ways of working, to improve collaboration and solve difficult problems. It’s not about how we will adapt ourselves or our organization to technology; rather it’s about how we can shape and adapt technology to us.