Accenture’s 8 digital trends to watch in 2017
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that digital technologies and hyper-connectivity are bringing user-led innovation to market faster than ever. Successful organisations today are those that best adapt and respond to unceasing change.
Against this backdrop, Accenture has released Fjord Trends 2017, its tenth and most provocative annual report examining the most significant emergent digital trends expected to disrupt organisations and society in the year ahead.
Three meta themes emerged, challenging long-held norms and assumptions. The rise of the autonomous vehicle, smart homes and digital assistants is creating new ecosystems that threaten the smartphone’s dominance as the main command center of our lives. Storytelling takes new shape through the popularity of live stories and raw, personal content as a refashioned form of broadcast. And the rise of social experience will soon be a consideration for any organisation wanting to cut through in a post-truth world.
“The year is about making us smarter humans and fostering human potential by creating helpful, meaningful services across an expanded array of digitized environments,” said Mark Curtis, chief client officer, Fjord. “Interfaces are becoming faster, smaller and automated, and organisations will need to adapt to the kind of supercharged, responsive and immersive environments now possible. Our tenth annual Trends report aims to provoke, inform and inspire but, above all, to provide actionable insights into designing for the rapidly evolving world of experience.”
Trends 2017 examines eight digital trends expected to shape the next generation of experiences:
- Ephemeral Stories: What’s next now that everyone’s a ‘storyteller’? Brand content is shifting from storytelling to ‘storydoing’ – creating stories by what brands do, rather than what they tell. Brand owners will step back and make room for audiences to shape their own stories through highly personal – often, ephemeral - content.
- Shiny API People: Re-wiring for innovation. Organisations will need to re-wire completely to inspire creative thinking and become more people-centric. They’ll do this by upscaling the principles and practices of innovation to effect organisation-wide transformation.
- Blurred Reality: Beyond AR vs VR vs MR. As Mixed Reality moves towards the mainstream, organisations will turn away from single, siloed enhanced reality experiences to focus instead on harnessing and combining all types of reality – both enhanced and real.
- World on Wheels: Go slow to go fast. With autonomous vehicles so close to becoming part of everyday life, organisations will focus attention on the car as a connected mobile environment in which things happen via multiple devices. Leaders will explore ways to integrate experiences between car and home.
- Homes without Boundaries: Domestic help finds its voice. Organisations will need to look beyond device-centric strategies to focus instead on designing and serving home experiences that better meet individual householders’ varying wants and needs.
- Hourglass Brands: Don’t get stuck in the middle. With a polarised brand landscape, brands sitting in the squeezed middle will need to change their strategies and either lean towards a clear purpose or advocate a ‘we can do anything’ voice.
- Me, Myself and A.I.: Humanizing chatbots. While A.I. has evolved exponentially, in 2017 we will see a shift in organisations’ approaches to developing products and services as emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes a critical A.I. differentiator.
- Unintended Consequences: Customer-centric cannibals. Organisations will focus more closely not just on their customer and employee experiences, but on their social experiences to guard against unintended consequences of their activities.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented era of innovation, placing the need for companies to rewire in order to succeed,” said Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive. “Organisations across every sector are learning to harness digital to become more customer-centric. It is through this lens that organisations need to rethink their purpose and what they call a service in order to convert change into opportunities.”
Trends 2017 draws upon the collective thinking of Fjord’s 800+ designers and developers around the world based on first-hand observations, third-party research and client work. For the full report, visit www.trends.fjordnet.com or share your comments with us on Slideshare.
This year marks a special tenth anniversary of Fjord Trends. For a look back at the last decade of innovation as well as our hits and misses, check out this video.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”