The days of innovative, technology-focused start-ups being the only market disrupters and growing faster than their larger, more established competitors may be coming to an end, according to a new report by Accenture, as large enterprises are starting to take advantage of their size, skills and scale to transform into truly digital businesses.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2014 identifies six technology trends that are enabling large enterprises to join those start-ups previously recognised as market disrupters in pushing the boundaries of innovation and taking advantage of digital technologies for competitive advantage.
The six IT trends identified as driving the digital power shift are:
Digital-Physical Blur - Extending intelligence to the edge: The real world is coming online as wearable devices, smart objects and machines provide us with real-time intelligence, changing how we live and how businesses operate. This new layer of connected intelligence augments workforce capabilities, automates processes, and incorporates machines into our lives. For consumers, this provides new levels of empowerment, and for organizations, getting real-time, relevant data means both machines and employees can act and react faster and more intelligently in virtually any situation.
In action: In healthcare, for example, Koninklijke Philips N.V. is running a pilot Google Glass application that allows physicians wearing the display to simultaneously monitor a patient's vital signs and react to surgical procedural developments, without needing to turn away from the patient or procedure.
From Workforce to Crowdsource - The rise of the borderless enterprise: Picture a workforce that extends beyond its employees, consisting of any willing individual connected to the Internet. Channelling such efforts to achieve business goals is a challenge, but the opportunity is enormous: tapping an immense, agile workforce that is not only well-suited to solving some of today's toughest business problems, but also, in many cases, is motivated enough to do it for free.
In action: Technology now allows organisations to tap into vast pools of resources around the world, just as companies like MasterCard and Facebook do through organisations such as Kaggle Inc., a global network of computer scientists, mathematicians, and data scientists who compete to solve problems ranging from finding the best airline flights to optimising retail-store locations.
Data supply chain - Changing the way data is handled to put information into broader circulation: Data technologies are evolving rapidly, but most have been adopted in a piecemeal fashion. As a result, enterprise data is vastly underutilised. Currently, just one in five organisations integrates data across the enterprise. To truly unlock data's potential value, companies must start treating it more as a supply chain, enabling its easy and useful flow through their entire organisations, and eventually throughout their ecosystems, too.
In action: Companies such as Google and Walgreens have adopted this approach by opening up APIs; more than 800,000 websites now use Google Maps data, and third-party developers are able to include the ability to scan barcodes from Walgreens' prescription bottles into their apps to make it easier for people to refill prescriptions.
Harnessing Hyperscale - Hardware is back (and never really went away): The hardware world is now a hotbed of innovation as demand soars for bigger and faster data centers. Advances in areas such as power consumption, processers, solid state memory, and infrastructure architectures are giving enterprises new opportunities to massively scale, increase efficiency, drive down costs, and enable their systems to perform at higher levels than ever before. As companies digitise their businesses, more and more will see hardware as essential to enabling their next wave of growth.
Business of Applications - Software as a core competency in the digital world: Mimicking the shift in the consumer world, enterprises are rapidly adopting apps in a push for greater operational agility. IT leaders and business leaders must establish who plays what role in app development in their new digital organisations, as pressure for change is driven by the business. They must also transform the app development process itself, in order to take advantage of new technologies quickly, support regular software iterations, and, ultimately accelerate business growth.
In action: According to Accenture research, 54% of the highest-performing IT teams have already deployed enterprise app stores, facilitating this shift towards simple, modular apps for employees.
Architecting Resilience - "Built to survive failure" is the mantra of the non-stop business: In the digital era, businesses are expected to support the non-stop demands placed on their processes, services and systems. This has ripple effects throughout an organisation, especially in the CIO's office where the need for "always on" infrastructure can mean the difference between "business as usual" and the erosion of brand value. These companies ensure that their systems are designed and built for failure, taking advantage of modular technologies and advanced testing processes rather than designing to specifications.
In action: Companies such as Netflix, which uses automated testing tools to deliberately attack its systems as a means to increase resiliency, are among today's IT leaders.
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