Accenture: 5 data-driven forces will define the future

July 26, 2022 | 5 minute read
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Accenture’s Group Chief Executive of Technology and Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty
Accenture Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty, seen here speaking at a recent Accenture Oracle Leadership Council, says how companies use technology to drive fundamental change will define the next decade.

Seven decades into the technology revolution, there is no sign of a slowdown. In fact, technology is only accelerating, according to Accenture’s Group Chief Executive of Technology and Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty. Daugherty, who recently spoke at the Accenture Oracle Leadership Council in Austin, TX, predicts that five key forces will drive more technology-enabled change between now and 2030 than we’ve seen in the past three decades combined.

“Three decades ago, we didn’t have the internet. Two decades ago, we didn’t really have mobile phones. That’s the kind of change I think will be packed into the next few years,” says Daugherty.

That forecast is supported by a survey in Accenture’s recently published Technology Vision 2022 report, which identifies emerging technology trends that will have the greatest impact on companies, government agencies, and other organizations in coming years. According to the report, 98 percent of executives surveyed believe continuous advances in technology are becoming more reliable than economic, political, or social trends in informing their organization’s long-term strategy.

To make the most of all this impending change, business leaders need to understand where technology is going, because according to Daugherty, the focus has pivoted from those who produce disruptive technology to those who use technology to drive transformation. “How companies use technology to drive fundamental change at both the business and the industry level will define the next decade,” he says.

Here are five forces Daugherty says will define the next decade for businesses—and they all have technology and data at their core.

1. Total enterprise reinvention: Digital transformation is still in its infancy. There is a lot of room for growth when it comes to using technology to transform how businesses run. According to a recent Accenture survey of thousands of companies worldwide, only 13 percent of business leaders feel they have hit the maturity point in how they use cloud. When it comes to artificial intelligence, that number is only 12 percent.

“We’re still at the very early stages of what’s possible,” says Daugherty. “There will be a lot more to digital transformation. Eventually, digital transformation will carry through to and potentially reinvent every part of a business.”

2. Talent: Competition over talent will continue. And that competition won’t only be for technology talent, but for all the types of talent company’s need. According to a recent Korn Ferry study, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, or roughly equivalent to the population of Germany, by 2030. Left unchecked, in 2030 that talent shortage could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. Therefore, the way businesses access talent will become a differentiator. Businesses will need to become talent creators, and to do so they’ll need technology.

“The learning platforms companies develop and use will be critical because employees are going to need to learn continuously,” says Daugherty. “Companies that have better learning platforms and that know how to create talent—and who are democratizing it to their enterprises—will be the most successful in the future.”

3. Sustainability: Many companies have committed to improve sustainability, reduce emissions, and meet net-zero goals, whether by choice or in response to growing government regulations. Technology is increasingly the solution to helping them meet those goals. Tech tools, such as methane-tracking solutions and carbon-tracking systems, will help companies better understand what they produce and measure their progress against sustainability goals and regulations.

“We’re still at the early stages of what’s possible. There will be a lot more to digital transformation. Eventually, digital transformation will carry through to and potentially reinvent every part of a business.”
—Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive of Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Accenture

On the other hand, power emissions are rising worldwide due to the increased use of technology, including everything from devices to data centers. The British Royal Society estimates that “digital technologies contribute between 1.4% and $5.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions.” Scientists from Lancaster University concluded that these emissions could double by 2025.

“Addressing sustainability is imperative as we go through the decade,” says Daugherty. “The good news is there is a lot of work under way to address this problem and a lot of opportunity for companies to devise greener solutions that help drive sustainability.”

4. The Metaverse Continuum: As Accenture describes it, the Metaverse Continuum is the “spectrum of emerging consumer experiences and the business applications and models across the enterprise that will be reimagined and transformed.” The Metaverse Continuum comprises multiple technologies, including extended reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, digital twins, smart objects, and edge computing, as well as “virt-real”—the range of experiences, from purely virtual to a blend of virtual and physical. According to Daugherty, this continuum will create the next major wave of digital change to enterprises.

“There’s a certain amount of skepticism and cynicism around the Metaverse Continuum, but I believe it’s inevitable,” Daugherty says. “Soon, business leaders will be at the intersection of many new worlds, from building new physical and virtual realities to providing services in environments created by others.”

According to Citigroup, the metaverse is expected to be a $13 trillion market by 2030. You can read more about Accenture’s predictions about the Metaverse Continuum here.

5. The ongoing technology revolution: The march of technology is not slowing. Fundamental forces will create opportunities for businesses to reimagine how data shapes our digital experiences. This will challenge businesses to rethink their online presence and become a part of shaping the next platform revolution as they build new ways to connect to customers, partners, and their digital workforces.

“As exciting as all this technology is, and as much as organizations are doing today, it's only going to accelerate,” says Daugherty. “The tech revolution is going to continue to create a lot of opportunity for all of us as organizations.”

Obligations and opportunities

Moving forward, Daugherty emphasizes that as new technologies come into play, businesses have an obligation to ensure they are used responsibly.

“We need to engineer responsibility into the way the metaverse forms,” he says. “We need to get privacy and security right. That trust dimension is really important because trust will be the ultimate currency of how you get your customers and your employees to use the metaverse.”

At the same time, businesses also have a unique opportunity to influence how the next decade unfolds.

“When the winds change, some people build walls to try to stop it, others build windmills. I think the most successful companies will be the ones that take advantage of the opportunity, understand where the winds are coming from, and start building those windmills today,” Daugherty says. “Use your imagination to think about where this might go, start small, and do pilot projects in the areas that makes sense. Then you’ll be ready to scale fast, because the next wave of change is going to happen very quickly.”

Justine Kavanaugh-Brown

Justine Kavanaugh-Brown is a senior writer at Oracle. She was previously a writer and editor for e.Republic’s Content Studio, where she worked with numerous enterprise technology companies.

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