Why every business is a technology business

In its latest Technology Vision report, Accenture lays out the tech trends business leaders must embrace in order to succeed.

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As a result of the ongoing pandemic, leading businesses are squeezing a decade of digital transformation into one or two years, and the benefits of doing so are accelerating in lockstep with the pace of transformation, according to Accenture’s latest Technology Vision report.

The report, released late last month, finds that leading organizations with the digital capabilities needed to adapt and innovate against the current environment are growing five times faster than laggards today. By comparison, leaders only grew twice as fast as laggards between 2015 and 2018, according to Accenture research.

In short, there appears to be a growing divide between the organizations that were able to use technology in ways they would have never previously thought possible and those who faced the stark reality of not having the capabilities needed to pivot, according to the company.

In a release, Jennifer Jackson, technology and cloud first lead for Canada at Accenture, noted “more leaders are also coming to the realization that every business is a technology business – no matter the industry or business – and that they face a huge opportunity to use technology to reinvent the future.”

Several Canadian companies have taken the lead and extended their offerings through tech innovation, notes Gregor Barry, managing director and Accenture Interactive lead for Canada, in an email to strategy. 

These include Loblaw, which partnered with Toronto-based healthtech startup League to develop and launch a new health-focused app intended to provide Canadians with access to care and resources, as well as companies like Lululemon, which grew into a more experiential brand over the pandemic with the launch of Community Carries On, an online hub featuring free ambassador-led workouts.

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“The emphasis on experience is arguably at its greatest today because the structure of almost everything we do – how and what people buy, how and where they work, how they interact with others – has been upended by world events in 2020,” explains Barry. “From food delivery platforms that kept restaurants connected to customers to the rise of telehealth services and e-commerce, the pandemic opened enterprises’ eyes to a new reality.”

In today’s environment, Barry believes technology, data and channel integration will be required for retail and consumer brands to run sustainable business models that will meet customer demands. “Customer needs will likely continue to evolve, often unpredictably, beyond the fallout from the pandemic,” he says. “As a result, companies should invest in ways to uncover customers’ unmet needs, both big and small.”

The Technology Vision report, which is based on a survey of 6,200 global business and tech leaders, including 295 from Canada, also examines five major trends that companies will need to address over the next three years.

For one, Accenture posits that companies will increasingly compete on their IT systems architecture, as business and technology strategies become inseparable.

Barry says organizations “need to start thinking about technology as a critical differentiator for their businesses, versus merely an enabler of their products and services and successfully combine their business and technology strategies, and work to find their most valuable combination of technologies across the stack.”

In Canada, 91% of executives (compared to 89% of global respondents) believe their company’s ability to generate business value will increasingly be based on the limitations and opportunities of their technology architecture, according to the report.

Furthermore, Barry says leaders will need to rethink the entire customer journey from the perspective of every department, as technology becomes increasingly democratized.

“Organizations must also go beyond simply supplying new tools to also teaching employees to think like technologists – that is, to solve problems with technology,” he says. “For businesses to succeed, it is imperative that every person and every part of the business be interconnected and collaborative, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit.”

In fact, according to the research, 92% of Canadian executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical to their ability to innovate.