Are you ready for the future of innovation?

An Accenture report points to which technologies will be most vital to a company's success and how it reaches consumers.

Companies need to begin thinking about the technology that will drive the next wave of innovation, as well as ways to identify their consumers as they move across different platforms.

Those are among the suggestions in the 2019 edition of Accenture’s annual Technology Vision report. This year’s report surveyed executives from 6,672 businesses in 27 countries, including Canada.

Almost half (49%) said the pace of innovation accelerated at their companies over the past three years, with 45% saying their business has done so “significantly.”

The key to keeping up with innovating is utilizing the technologies that will be driving that transformation. Accenture’s report uses the term “DARQ” to collectively refer to the four technologies that will be foundational to future change in business: distributed ledgers (such as blockchain), artificial intelligence, extended reality (such as AR and VR) and quantum computing.

For those still unfamiliar with the technologies, Accenture spells out the capabilities they facilitate. Distributed ledgers, the report says, will help facilitate transactions, collaborations and data transmission among businesses and consumers while maintaining transparency and privacy; AI will automate cumbersome business practices and scan large amounts of data; extended reality will allow for the creation of new immersive environments and hands-free, on demand data transmission; and quantum computing will provide the power to tackle problems that are out of reach for today’s systems.

Quantum computing is still in a theoretical state, but when it comes to the other three technologies, 89% of businesses are already experimenting with these technologies, and many are past the pilot stage: 42% have already adopted AI, 38% have adopted distributed ledgers and 35% have adopted extended reality.

But technology doesn’t just have an impact on how a business operates internally. Among those surveyed, 83% agreed that digital demographics, which identify consumer choices across their different devices, give their organizations a new way to find market opportunities for unmet customer needs. On top of that, 41% agreed that understanding consumer behaviors when it comes to technology will be “critical” for increasing customer loyalty.

When it comes to reaching consumers, Accenture says companies need to look beyond just which technologies are being used to how they are used in different contexts. A segment of your audience may have adopted voice assistants, for example, but they might only use it during certain points of the day, and not all of them are going to be moments where every brand will be welcomed. Further, companies also need to pay attention to things from network connectivity to the technology they choose to (or are able to) use. Increasingly, the report says, business decisions and the reach of new products and services are going to be driven by how accessible technology is to segments of the audience.