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Digital culture shock: Getting unstuck

Sam Liew, Managing Director, Technology, ASEAN, Accenture | July 15, 2016
To survive the digital age, companies must use technology to enable their people to constantly adapt and learn, create new solutions, drive change, and yes, disrupt the status quo, says Accenture's Sam Liew.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

The digital revolution continues and not all businesses are adapting well. Our research shows that digital now dominates every sector of the economy. The digital economy accounted for 15 percent of the world's economy in 2005 and we expect it to increase to 25 percent by 2020.

Under continuous pressure to rethink their products, services, and even their operating models - not just once, but with each new technology innovation - many businesses have been paralysed, stuck in digital culture shock.

But standing still is not an option. In our global technology survey of more than 3,100 IT and business executives, 86 percent expected that the pace of technology change would increase rapidly or at an unprecedented rate in their industries over the next three years.

And embracing digital technologies is only part of the solution - companies need to create a digital corporate culture that can flex just as quickly. While technology is the driver, it is people that will transform organisations for the future.

Simply put, for digital success, companies must focus on enabling people to accomplish more with technology.

Technology Vision 2016 highlights five technology trends that will have a profound impact on businesses in the next three to five years, and how they provide opportunities to equip people - employees, customers and ecosystem partners - with capabilities to keep up with change and create value.

  • Intelligent Automation is the newest "recruit" of our workforce. But far from replacing human workers, this transformation is about collaboration, and redefining what's possible. At an automated farm run by Spreadin Kyoto, Japan, human workers focus on developing sustainable agricultural techniques while robots handle the farming process, from re-planting seedlings to harvest. This collaboration between man and machine will boost daily production from 21,000 to 50,000 lettuces a day, and also halve labour costs, cut energy use by 30 percent, and recycle 98 percent of the water used in production.  
  • In a Liquid Workforce, people, projects and entire organisations are highly adaptable, agile and ready for change. At General Electric, for example, rigid processes have been replaced by a flexible approach called FastWorks. Employees are empowered to make rapid changes to their projects, switching directions when necessary, and are given continuous training so they can adapt and thrive in such an environment. The results speak for themselves: GE built a diesel engine for ships nearly two years ahead of its competitors, and in less than a year, its Appliances group designed and delivered a high-end refrigerator that sold twice as well as preceding models.
  • Having harnessed technology to produce digital businesses, leaders are now creating an adaptable, scalable, and interconnected Platform Economy. In Singapore, online grocery business RedMart partners local grocers, restaurants and speciality shops to offer 25,000 items on its platform. It also launched RedMart Relay, basically runners who pick up items from participating retailers and deliver them to customers within the hour. By working with partners and controlling the supply chain from fulfilment to last mile delivery, the company is able to create a superior customer experience.
  • By looking at digital ecosystems, smart enterprises can anticipate trajectories with fairly high certainty, and prepare themselves for the next wave of change. Predictable Disruption led forward-looking Indian cab aggregator Ola to create strategic partnerships with China's Didi Kuaidi, US-based Lyft and Malaysia's GrabTaxi, allowing passengers to book rides on any of these four services using just one app. An agreement with chat services company Haptik, meanwhile, allows users to book Ola cabs on Haptik's mobile app, while another agreement with MapMyIndia provides it with geolocation services.
  • Digital Trust is vital if companies want to collect and use consumer data, and this is not just about having strong cybersecurity. It's also about having high standards on digital ethics at every stage of the customer journey. UK loyalty card Nectarcollects a large amount of data from its 19 million members, including their shopping habits and demographics. The company is upfront about what data it collects and how this will be used - including to create better offers, rewards, and services. Its customers can also choose whom Nectar shares their data with, and can opt out of data collection at any time.


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