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The intersection of technology and consumers is more prevalent today than it has ever been before. And while many of us continue to utilize the benefits of predictive technology, we’re still slightly uncomfortable with how it seeps into our lives. This growing dichotomy often leaves us asking one important question: Can I trust this technology?

Luckily, Michael Biltz, the Managing Director at Accenture Labs, is here to answer that question and ease some of our concerns. On this episode of IT Visionaries, he discusses Accenture’s Technology Vision 2020 report, the brewing technology clash between consumer and trust, and how the robot renaissance is upon us.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s important to strike a balance between company value and consumer values
  • The relationship between the consumer and technology is strained. Why? Because trust needs to be reestablished
  • We are just at the starting line of everyday use of robots in the workplace.

For an in-depth look at this episode, continue below.

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The intersection of people and technology has never been more prevalent than it is today. But as consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of predictive buying habits and suggestions, they are also becoming increasingly skeptical about where and how that information is being distributed. The result is an unanticipated technology clash compounded by trust concerns. On IT Visionaries, the Managing Director of Accenture Technology Labs, Michael Biltz, joined the show to discuss the company’s annual Technology Vision 2020 report and the trends they are seeing within the industry.

Accenture Technology Labs is a consulting firm that employs more than 500,000 employees globally, working with 98% percent of the global 2,000 companies to focus on how they can implement new technologies. Their main objective is simple: stay ahead of the curve.

“Our lab is really set up is to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve and that we’re not always necessarily inventing the newest VR headset or something like that,” Biltz said. “But rather we’re looking to try to figure out how all this technology that’s produced by startups and academia and all of these big companies actually gets translated and used by real businesses.”

With more than 20 years of experience, Biltz is continually peppered with the question why a consulting company has a lab. So he’ll tell anyone who asks that because of the ways technology and IT continue to evolve and how they are implemented in everyday tasks, it’s become a must.

“We’re looking ahead five-plus years to see how things are going to change and how things are going to be implemented by companies across the board,” Biltz said.

To keep up with that change and stay progressive, Accenture started Technology Vision, which is now in its 20th iteration. Technology Vision takes a systematic look across the technology landscape, providing in-depth reports on trends that hold the greatest potential to disrupt businesses and technology.

“The report really started out as a look for ourselves to guide what research was done,” Biltz said. “[The report] eventually morphed from an internal thing to us really publishing the ‘skinny-down’ version of what’s actually changing in technology.” 

Among the trends covered in the 2020 report include how companies are starting to define themselves in order to accommodate best practices for technology and their employees

“Over the last 18 months as tech becomes so pervasive in our companies and also in our lives, we’re starting to see companies realize that the more that we touch on our consumers’ lives, the more that we embed ourselves into the everyday pieces of our family, is that it’s not just the value the technology’s providing that we care about anymore,” Biltz said. “It’s also the values that these things are pushing forward.” 

An example that Biltz provided is AT&T, which over the last few years went through a digital transformation. The company took a hard look at its employees, the jobs they were doing, and the skills needed for the shift in philosophy.

“It’s that balance of value and values that I think is something that we’re starting to see,” Biltz said. “From a company perspective, they’re planning what they want to do as well as [from] the consumer’s perspective for what they’re expecting out of big companies.”

In the same conversation, Biltz advocated that people are not shying away from technology, but stressed the relationship between technology and consumer has never been stronger. As consumers continue to enjoy the personalization benefits of technology, Biltz emphasized that that is only half the equation. The bigger issue lies in where the data is being shared and with whom?

“It’s not an anti-technology movement that we’re seeing,” Biltz said. “We’re talking about trust that needs to be established. How do we get both out of [technology] that says, the consumer wants that technology in those services too. But they also require that trust along with it to make sure that they’re comfortable with the exchange. Because that exchange is, in this particular case, data for services.” 

Another trend Biltz sees is the importance of cybersecurity and the impact existing ecosystems partners are having on a company’s ability to be secure. 

“What happens is when you [share information with partners] you realize that your security is no longer just dependent on the data that you have,” Biltz said. “Rather it’s dependent on the data that all of your partners potentially have about you. And you’re only as safe as that weakest link, you can’t rely on everyone else when it’s your security that’s on the line.”

With rising digital concerns, data sharing, and information spread across a breadth of platforms, how can companies take control of their security and how can they combat the rising tide of concerns? Most of the answers lie in the details and taking ownership of the problem.

“It’s challenging and it’s expensive,” Biltz said.” But honestly, most of it is just starting with the basics. Who’s responding to that information? Who has the ability to actually look across these two different networks in order to figure out there’s something wrong versus only looking at your slide siloed pieces? And so this is really, how am I going to create that security relationship across companies and across multiple ecosystems.” 

The final trend Biltz commented on was the use of robotics increasing in the workplace and in consumers’ lives. He pointed to industries such as agriculture and mining, where robots are being used to protect and save lives.

“This idea of what we’re calling robots in the wild is something that we always knew was coming, but it just seemed to have been stalled for so long,” Biltz said.“What we haven’t realized is that over the last number of years both artificial intelligence, the beginning of the rollout of 5G is really starting to open those floodgates. And so we’re just at the starting line where we’re going to start to see robots interacting more and more with us on our daily lives.” 

So what’s on the horizon? That’s a tough question and one that doesn’t necessarily have an answer. But with the circumstances arising in 2020 and technology being a conduit to relationships and work-life balance, Biltz says the responsibilities of his team is more important now than ever before.

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