There is no escaping technology. So says global-management consulting giant Accenture (ticker: ACN) in its annual forecast of tech trends over the next three years, released today.
Accenture Technology Vision 2018 sees a work-life balance of A.I., mixed reality, big data, "frictionless business" and intelligent distributed systems. Added up, it's forced companies and individuals to redefine themselves.
"Tech used to be peripheral to what we do," Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer of Accenture, said in a phone interview. "It has reached a tipping point where it is now intrinsic in our lives as consumers, citizens and workers."
Amazon (AMZN) epitomizes the ubiquity of gadgets in our lives, Daugherty says, ticking off the presence of Prime, Alexa, Kindle and delivery drop-offs.
The 80-page report is divided into five themes:
Citizen A.I. Artificial intelligence has graduated from a concept to an integral part of business. In Accenture's survey of executives, 81% believe that within two years A.I. will work side-by-side with humans as a co-worker, collaborator and adviser. By the same token, 72% of those same execs say their organizations "seek to gain trust and confidence" by being transparent in their use of A.I.
Extended reality. As virtual reality, augmented reality and extended reality become pervasive, they will eliminate the distance between where businesses are based and where they want to be in the future, transforming such industries as retail, real estate and training.
Data veracity. Accurate big data has never been more important. Although the $151 billion market for big data and analytics practices is growing, 97% of business decisions are made using data that the company's own managers consider unacceptable.
Frictionless business. Businesses must "adopt microservices architectures, and use blockchain and smart contracts to build a strong foundation for technology-based partnerships," according to Accenture's report. Indeed, 36% of businesses polled said they worked with more than twice as many partners as two years ago, and 60% consider blockchain and smart contracts crucial over the next three years.
Internet of Thinking. Nearly two-thirds of executives, 63%, say it is critical over the next two years to leverage customer hardware and hardware accelerators to meet the computing demands of intelligent environments. A jaw-dropping 83% agree edge architecture will speed the maturity of many technologies.