Report: Fundamental Shift in Leadership Essential for Technology Advancement


Emma Okonji

The recent Accenture Technology Vision 2018 report has called for a fundamental shift in leadership position in Africa if the continent must achieve rapid advancement in technology that will boost African economies.

The report said that adopting artificial intelligence for growth and positive social impact means forming new partnerships with customers and business partners.

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies are accelerating the creation of intelligent enterprises and enabling companies to integrate themselves into people’s lives, the report said, while predicting key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years.

This year’s report, “Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed: Redefine Your Company Based on the Company You Keep,” highlights how rapid advancements in technologies, including AI advanced analytics and the cloud, are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live. This, in turn, is changing companies’ relationships with their customers, employees and business partners.

As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 6,300 business and Information Technology (IT) executives worldwide. More than four in five respondents, which is about 84 per cent, agreed that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of how people live today.

The report gave example of how Google, through its many applications and analytics capabilities, has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives thereby influencing their way of life. Google maps are used for journey management, references and suggestions on places, products and services of interest and through this, Google can shape people’s consumption behaviours. Also, feedback from users can influence uptake of suggestions from Google by other people.

Giving further details of the research report, Accenture Nigeria’s Managing Director of Technology, Niyi Tayo, said: “Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society.

“Just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation, and by extension, the companies that provide those services. This requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information in a secure manner.”

The report notes that this latest technological transformation is unique in that for the first time the change is a two-way street; people are not just using companies’ products and services, but feeding information and access back to them.

“This level of “integrated innovation” and degree of trust requires a deeper relationship, a true partnership based not only on a company’s products, but also its goals and values. With this two-way partnership come new responsibilities to consumers, business partners and society at large, requiring leadership and commitment from the top,” Tayo said.

The report said savvy organisations understand that these new societal expectations can be transformed into an enterprise strength. They are using their increased interactions to build partnerships with customers, employees, government and the public. And this extends beyond the consumer or retail arena.

“Siemens, by offering its operating system for internet of things – MindSphere; that can be used for various types of assets such as manufacturing devices, oil and gas equipment and installations, is already creating new partnerships and embedding itself into its business partners’ architectures,” the report said.

According to Tayo, Nigerian banks and telecommunication companies are also taking the first steps towards AI to improve customer service by implementing chatbots. They are beginning to use advanced analytics to provide next best product offers to increase product uptake and fraud analytics to manage risks.

The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy, to include: Citizen AI, Extended Reality, Data Veracity, Frictionless Business and Internet of Thinking.

While Citizen AI entails raising AI to benefit business and society,
Extended Reality takes charge of virtual and augmented reality technologies that are transforming the ways people live and work by removing the distance to people, information and experiences.
Data Veracity is about transforming people to run on data, to avoid vulnerability, Frictionless Business is built to partner at scale, since businesses depend on technology-based partnerships for growth.
Internet of Thinking is expected to create intelligent distributed systems for the business.