Dubai – MENA Herald: In its annual global technology trends report, Accenture, a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations for clients, has identified five technology trends that are critical to digital success, and found that leading organizations that develop a people first approach will win in today’s digital economy. As technology advancements accelerate at an unprecedented rate – dramatically disrupting the workforce – organizations in the Middle East that equip employees, partners and consumers with new skills can fully capitalize on innovations. Those that do will have unmatched capabilities to create fresh ideas, develop cutting-edge products and services, and disrupt the status quo.
The ‘People First’ theme plays out in each of the five trends that make up this year’s Accenture Technology Vision 2016: Intelligent Automation, Liquid Workforce, Platform Economy, Predictable Disruption and Digital Trust.
Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive of Accenture Digital, said: “Our latest research has determined that digital success is based on five major technology trends, which are shaping the current and future business landscape in UAE. Results show that if companies embrace digital, while also harnessing the power of people, they will be well-set to rise to their industry’s fore in the coming years.”
In a companion survey of more than 3,100 business and IT executives worldwide, Accenture found that 33 percent of the global economy is already impacted by digital. To supplement this report, Accenture interviewed more than 300 senior decision-makers in the public and private sectors of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Qatar, and found that more than 80 percent of UAE respondents are confident that the pace of technology will increase rapidly and at an unprecedented rate over the next three years, with a 44 percent expectation that the level of data growth in the coming year will at least double, and 12 percent believing it will as much as triple.
The Accenture report highlights how companies in the Middle East can often feel overwhelmed by the pace of technology change, experiencing a “digital culture shock” at the prospect of keeping up with the competition. Some additional findings from the UAE survey respondents broken out by the five emerging technology trends include:
Intelligent automation. Leaders are embracing automation – powered by artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality – to fundamentally change the way their business operates and drive a new, more productive relationship between people and machines. Extensive automation strategies are already being implemented throughout UAE businesses, particularly with regards to customer-facing processes such as interacting and servicing tasks, and consumer experiences, and organizations are expected to extensively increase their use of automation in the coming years. UAE businesses claim this anticipated growth is driven by a desire to cut costs and increase operational efficiency (33 percent), boost innovation and create new business models (37 percent), and redirect resources to concentrate on research and development, and new product development (30 percent).
Investment in artificial intelligence (A.I) has grown significantly, up to 70 percent, in UAE in comparison to two years ago, and is expected to grow in the next 3 years, with companies anticipating to invest upwards of 77 percent more in fields such as machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, video analytics, and embedded AI solutions.
Liquid workforce. By exploiting technology to enable workforce transformation, leading companies will create highly adaptable and change-ready environments that are able to meet today’s dynamic digital demands. The competitive advantage offered by a liquid workforce is apparent as survey respondents indicated that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the fifth-most-important characteristic they required for employees to perform well in a digital work environment. Other qualities such as the ‘ability to shift gears’ or ‘work differently with minimal notice’ were considered by 62 percent of UAE respondents as the most important characteristics for employees to perform well in the digital work environment. Moreover, two thirds of UAE respondents (62 percent) believe a more fluid or transparent workforce will improve innovation.
Platform economy. Industry leaders are unleashing the power of technology by developing platform-based business models to capture new growth opportunities, driving the most profound change in the global macroeconomic environment since the Industrial Revolution. According to the study, 65 percent of UAE organizations are investing in digital technologies in select business units, while 22 percent are comprehensively investing in digital technologies as part of their overall business strategy, and 52 percent are seeking new digital partners within their industry.
Adopting a platform-based business model and engaging in the ecosystems of digital partners is considered critical by 94 percent of UAE organizations. Moreover, 74 percent of our survey respondents agree that platform-based business models will become part of their organization’s core growth strategy within three years. Moreover, merger and acquisition growth will be a top growth strategy for 40 percent of UAE businesses in the coming 3 years, followed by 34 percent asymmetric growth and 26 percent organic growth.
Predictable disruption. Fast-emerging digital ecosystems are creating the foundation for the next wave of disruption by straddling markets and blurring industry boundaries; forward-thinking leaders can proactively predict these ecosystem trajectories to gain a competitive advantage. Companies are already significantly or moderately experiencing ecosystem disruption, with 80 percent of UAE survey respondents indicating that they are seeing this in their industry. Every industry is considered to be significantly impacted as new paradigms emerge, though healthcare, airlines, communications and banking are thought to have the most disruption ahead of them.
The Industrial Internet and Internet of Things will have a significant degree of change on industries in UAE, according to 79 percent, and 79 percent also believe that organizations are being increasingly pressed to reinvent themselves and evolve their business, before they are disrupted.
Digital Trust. Trust is a cornerstone of the digital economy, said 72 percent of UAE survey respondents. To gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems and regulators in this new landscape, businesses must focus on digital ethics as a core strategy; better security alone won’t be enough.
Only 21 percent of UAE respondents claim they are ‘frequently’ required to comply with ethical data handling requirements as part of data sharing agreements that are outside of their company’s own protocols, though 49 percent state that their company’s documented standards for the ethical handling of data are among the strongest in their industry.
“The Middle East is at a tipping point in the development and adoption of key technologies, including artificial intelligence, platform ecosystems, predicative analytics and the internet of things,” said Omar Boulos, regional managing director of Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa. “These disruptive advancements are now moving from radical ideas to full roll-outs resulting in a compelling set of advantages from driving innovation and reducing costs to attracting talent and boosting efficiency in an increasingly global and disruptive competitive landscape.”