Technology Vision 2019: 5 tech trends for the post-digital world

In the post-digital world, success is strongly intertwined with the ability to implement new technologies to provide customers, employees, and partners with an unfettered experience. Use these technologies to stay ahead on trust, responsibility, privacy, and security.

The post-digital world is here. Are you ready?

The world is continuously changing. Many companies are taking their first careful steps into a new world that is constantly adapting to new circumstances. With digital technologies, you can be scrupulous when it comes to understanding customer needs. This offers clients the opportunity of reaching new business partners through a number of channels and strengthening their ecosystem.

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At the same time, digital is no longer a differentiating factor. Almost four-fifths (79 percent) of more than 6,600 surveyed business and IT managers are convinced that digital technologies such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), are already an integral part of their organization.

We are at a crossroads. Most businesses have completed their digital transformations which means that digital technology doesn’t offer you an advantage when it comes to competition. That doesn’t reduce the influence that digital solutions have on the relationship between businesses and society, and individual expectations.

In short, we really have stepped into a post-digital world. It isn’t by chance that the title of our Accenture Technology Vision 2019 is:

The post-digital era is upon us – Are you ready for what’s next?

Hyper-personalized and on demand

The post-digital world is one where products, services, and even the environment is customized for consumers. Businesses provide individuals with everything that they need, shaping everyone’s reality.

There are a number of examples of organizations whose biggest defining factor is personalization. The largest e-commerce company in Japan; Zozotown, delivers ‘custom fast fashion’. Their tight spandex (lycra) ZOZSUITs are connected to a special app that provides exact measurements of their clients, after which trousers are custom made. Gilette also caters to individual needs in the health and beauty market. Together with 3D printing startup; Formlabs, they offer made-to-order razors. Customers create their own personalized product through the website. This digital design is printed into physical existence, assembled and delivered. Sam’s club has developed an app, which combines machine learning and purchase history to automatically create grocery lists for customers and will soon give them the ideal shopping route.

All these companies are looking for ways to shape the customers' world. They choose the right moment to offer their products and services. If you observe these companies carefully, it becomes clear that the world is becoming more involved in hyper-personalization and on-demand digital services. It shows a fundamental shift in the way people are moving into the future, what they want and how they want to experience things. Soon every individual will create their own personal reality providing businesses multiple moments to seize the opportunity and make their own contribution.

Digital saturation

Digitally-native businesses and organizations that have completes their transformation, bombarded consumers with digital services and products. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the continuous stream of new social media brands are logical places to find and share information. Smart home equipment creates contextual interaction between the digital and physical world ("Hey Google, remind me that I need to go to financial administration when I get to work”), direct requests for physical products (“Alexa, order tablets for the dishwasher”), and even digital social interactions from anywhere (“Siri, call my mom on FaceTime”).

The digital saturation of our reality offers room for unique possibilities. You can understand specific and minute customer needs and you have more channels than ever to reach them. As businesses are slowly reaching the same level of digitalization, there are more digital ecosystems and partners available to create holistic customer experiences.

In the Accenture Technology Vision 2019, 45 percent of the respondents reported that the rate of innovation within their organization has increased considerably in the last three years.

A parallel transformation

People are walking a path parallel to that of businesses and are adapting to new technologies at a fast pace. In fact, their digital transformation is much quicker than that of a business which makes consumers more selective and demanding. This challenges organizations to either work together or adapt in a different manner.

The speed with which innovation is being embraced is only increasing, After the introduction of the mobile phone it took twelve years to reach 50 million users. The internet only needed seven to reach the same point. Facebook had 50 million users in three years and WeChat had achieved that in a year. Augmented Reality game, Pokémon GO only took 19 days to get to that number.

New Responsibilities

If you are going to meet all these new challenges, you also need to keep an eye out for new responsibilities. With technologies that make a deeper impact on human life and determine their realities, you must, as a business, take into account questions around privacy, security, ethics and, management.

Successful businesses use new technologies while taking into consideration trust, responsibility, privacy and security.

An example of this is the use of drones. A Swiss postal company uses drones to transport time-sensitive lab material between hospitals. With this, they prevent delays that would occur on the road. This raises questions on issues of patient security, privacy, and data security, but also about navigating the airspace. That is why AirMap has developed a management system for part of the airspace in which drones mostly operate. A platform has been created with Microsoft Azure through which the authorities can monitor and control drone traffic in their area. In this way, the platform helps companies to consider and implement safety and compliance in their drone initiatives.

By positioning yourself as someone who controls personal realities, you also have a new kind of responsibility to society. But how is the potential impact of products and services on society measurable if there are an unlimited number of possibilities? How do you prevent the violation of ethical boundaries if reality is constantly changing? Another question is how businesses choose opportunities responsibly. If it is possible to deliver everything directly, it is important to realize that just because you often ‘can’ do something, that it ‘must’ be done.

The tech trends of 2019

In our Technology Vision 2019, we have shown that the world really is moving into a post-digital age. But what does ‘post-digital’ mean for your business? Companies are moving full steam to round off their digital transformations and optimize their investments. While looking to strategically place themselves into the future, they do this by concentrating on opportunities and finding a place in the ecosystems of the post-digital age. In addition to this, organizations are making digital investments targeted towards the post-digital future, it is leaders that predetermine what is to come. After all, a digitalized organization is the basis of all future innovation.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2019 signals five trends that will be crucial to the development and strategy of your business for the next five years. Within the trends, we can see that digital saturation creates many expectations, opportunities, and risks for all sectors. Which raises the question of how you can find new ways to differentiate yourself in a world that is moving in the direction of post-digitalization.

Trend 1. DARQ power – Understanding the DNA of DARQ

Technology Vision 2019 - Eyeing the future

New technologies stimulate change and offer companies untapped possibilities. Distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing (DARQ) are the new technologies that equip business to rediscover complete sectors.

Trend 2. Know your client – Unlock unique consumers and unique opportunities

Technology-driven interactions broaden the technical identity of each client. This constantly developing knowledge is crucial to understand new generations of clients and build rich, personalized relationships based on experience in a post-digital age.

Trend 3. Human + Worker– Change the workplace or hinder the workforce

Employees develop into human+: every individual has their own skills and knowledge, complemented with a set of possibilities that driven by technology. It is up to businesses to adapt their technology strategies to the new generation of employees. This is of utmost importance to facilitate new ways of working in the post-digital world.

Trend 4. Secure us to secure me - Enterprises are not victims, they're vectors 

While ecosystems are dependent on interconnectedness, these relationships can also expose businesses to risks. Leaders work together with the entire ecosystem to deliver the best products, services, and experience. At the same time, it is also possible to make security a standard part of the process.

Trend 5. Mymarkets – Meet consumer needs at the speed of now

Technology creates an intense world of custom and on-demand experiences. This ensures that businesses reinvent themselves to make use of new opportunities. This means that you must approach each opportunity as an individual market; a Mymarket.

Technology Vision 2019: prepare yourself for the post-digital world

At the moment the world is not at the point where everything can be immediately realized, yet post-digital businesses are playing their own game. Those that are still rounding off their digital transformation are looking for ways to set themselves apart by offering, for example, innovative services, more efficiency or more personalization. You can also stay ahead of the game by changing the way a market functions; on demand and at every moment. Don’t focus on just one market, rather now is the time to pay attention to ‘custom markets’.

This situation is a challenge for everyone. By combining digital power and new possibilities of the post-digital world, the expectations from clients, employees, and society are high. Luckily there are many opportunities to meet those expectations in every moment and every reality. Are you ready for the next step?

Author: Accenture the Netherlands