Seventy-three per cent of organisations in Singapore plan to make investments in artificial intelligence, 57 per cent in robotics, and 53 per cent in Internet of Things (IoT) in the next year, according to Accenture Technology Vision 2018.
The annual report from Accenture predicts key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years. However, capitalising on growth opportunities while also having a positive impact on society requires a new era of leadership that prioritises trust and greater responsibility.
This year’s report, “Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed: Redefine Your Company Based on the Company You Keep,” highlights how rapid advancements in technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, and the cloud – are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live. This, in turn, is changing companies’ relationships with their customers and business partners.
As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 6,300 business and IT executives worldwide. Globally, more than four in five respondents (84 per cent) agree that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of how people live today. In Singapore, the figure is 93 per cent. Indeed, 33 per cent of Singapore’s respondents said they plan to adopt new and emerging technologies within one to two years and another 20 per cent in less than a year.
For example, Amazon – not only through its tremendous online presence but also its Echo device and AI assistant Alexa – has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives to such an extent that developers are building dedicated Amazon lockers into new apartment complexes and people are granting the company physical access to their homes via its smart lock system to let couriers make deliveries when no one is around.
“The companies that succeed will be the ones that understand that they need to develop a trusted relationship with customers, and that customers aren’t just looking at their products but also their goals and values,” explained Sam Liew, managing director of Accenture Technology in ASEAN. “Most Singapore executives know this – 92 per cent surveyed here said that they believe a deeper integration of technology into our daily lives has shifted the relationship between consumers and enterprises into partnerships – but it is the companies that execute on building and maintaining this trusted partnership with customers who will stand out as trailblazers and iconic Singapore tech and business leaders.”
The report notes that this latest technological transformation is unique in that for the first time the change is a two-way street; people aren’t just using companies’ products and services, but feeding information and access back to them. This level of “integrated innovation” and degree of trust requires a deeper relationship. And with this two-way partnership come new responsibilities – to consumers, business partners and society at large — requiring leadership and commitment from the top.
Savvy organisations understand that these new societal expectations can be transformed into an enterprise strength. They’re using their increased interactions to build partnerships with customers, employees, government and the public. And this extends beyond the consumer or retail arena.
Tesla, for instance, is partnering with governments to accelerate the development of guidelines needed for autonomous vehicles. Siemens, by offering its MindSphere operating system for internet of things that can be used for various types of assets such as manufacturing devices, smart grid components, or power generation equipment, is creating new partnerships and embedding itself into its business partners’ architectures.
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy:
- Citizen AI: Raising AI to Benefit Business and Society. As AI grows in its capabilities, so does its impact on people’s lives. Ninety-two per cent of Singapore businesses agree that within the next two years, AI will work next to humans in their organisations, as a co-worker, collaborator, and trusted advisor.
- Extended Reality: The End of Distance. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are transforming the ways people live and work by removing the physical distance to people, information, and experiences. Ninety per cent of respondents in Singapore believe extended reality solutions enable organisations to close the “distance gap” in offering services to customers.
- Data Veracity: The Importance of Trust. By transforming themselves to run on data, businesses now face a new kind of vulnerability. Forty per cent of respondents in Singapore say they validate the data sources only to some extent and there is a lot more they should do to ensure data quality. To address this challenge, companies must follow a dual mandate to maximise veracity and minimise incentives for data manipulation.
- Frictionless Business: Built to Partner at Scale. Businesses depend on technology-based partnerships for growth, but their own legacy systems aren’t designed to support partnerships at scale. Eighty-eight per cent of organisations in Singapore say blockchain and smart contracts will be critical to their organisations over the next three years. To fully power the connected Intelligent Enterprise, companies must first re-design themselves.
- Internet of Thinking: Creating Intelligent Distributed Systems. Businesses are making big bets on intelligent environments via robotics, AI, and immersive experiences. Fifty-three per cent of respondents in Singapore say it’s critical or very critical for their organisations to leverage custom hardware or hardware accelerators to meet the computing demands of intelligent environments.
“As Singapore businesses develop new partnerships with customers, employees and business collaborators, they will build greater trust and further integrate themselves into society, and importantly, help fuel growth,” Liew said. – Networks Asia