Three reasons tech needs a human-centric approach

From the Tech newsletter: A report shows more collaborative models better align with the needs of consumers.

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In order to succeed in a business world that is increasingly reliant on technology, companies will need to keep consumer expectations and experiences in mind, according to this year’s edition of Accenture’s Technology Vision report.

This year’s report was compiled based on a survey of 2,000 consumers and 6,074 business and IT executives in 25 countries, including Canada, paired with other consumer-facing research from other academic and private-sector sources.

Companies have been looking to provide digital experiences personalized to individuals for years, but this year the report also emphasized the importance of giving consumers agency and ownership over these experiences. By making people feel like co-creators, it makes them more engaged, active and loyal. On top of that, more “behind-the-scenes” methods of personalization are running into increased concern among consumers about the methods used: 70% are concerned about data privacy and tracking of their online behaviours, while 66% say they are just as concerned with commercial use of their data as they are threats like hackers.

With this in mind, 76% of executives say they need to “dramatically re-engineer” digital and technological experiences that are more “human-centric,” with 85% saying they need to “elevate” relationships with customers and view them as partners, instead of a resource to be tapped.

That idea of partnership and co-creation is also a central theme to how the report approaches AI. While 73% of organizations are adopting AI in at least one of their business units, only 23% say they are preparing the entirety of their workforce for collaborative, interactive AI systems that they can understand, with 37% using inclusive or human-centric design principles in creating their platforms to encourage collaboration. This is because most organizations are viewing AI simply as a backstop for automating their processes, instead of a tool to enhance the work humans are already doing.

While automation is an important benefit of AI, the report points out that this is a limited view of the technology, and that taking a more human-centric approach could “push into a new frontier of co-creation between people and machines.”

In the realm of connected devices, many companies are entering what the report calls “forever beta,” where products are continuously updated and sometimes changed completely: 74% of executives said their connected products and services will have either more or significantly more updates over the next three years.

Given the fact that products are constantly in a state of flux, consumers feel like they are playing catch-up with changes and new features, to the point where they don’t necessarily feel like they “own” them: from their cars to their light bulbs, what they bought isn’t always what they got.

To address the disconnect consumers feel with the things they are consuming, companies are, once again, looking for more collaborative ownership models that give consumers more options and control: 79% of executives believe their industry is moving toward offering more variety in ownership models for their connected products and services.