Focus on the digital technology that will transform your business

It’s about not being disrupted and not disappearing from the marketplace

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 April, 2016, 12:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 April, 2016, 12:54pm

Managers need to focus on the digital technology that will make their company stand out and be noticed.

Accenture, for example, has started using holograms as a way for senior executives to interact with employees and clients on the other side of the globe in real time – demonstrating our ability to weave digital technology into our communications.

Managers of all companies need to be looking at the possibilities of digital technologies to transform their businesses. Now this doesn’t mean you need to invest in holograms but you should invest in the solutions that will differentiate yourself in your industry.

The best companies in all industries are investing in digitalising their operations

This time we are working in is full of opportunities. There is so much new technology available for companies to leverage to make their businesses more effective, cutting edge and profitable: from cloud technologies to artificial intelligence and robotics to simply better utilising big data.

When I look at the common denominator across all our clients in growth markets – from health care to financial services to resources to consumer goods – the best companies in all industries are investing in digitalising their operations. This is because, across industries, businesses are now subject to massive disruption. It’s not just about being better. It’s not just about being more productive. It’s about not being disrupted and not disappearing from the marketplace.

Consider the power of application program interfaces, or APIs, which in a technical sense are a set of protocols for building software applications. But in the bigger picture, APIs enable the freedom to redefine industries. For example, APIs have absolutely transformed the travel industry. These days most customers go to travel websites to book their trips. These websites are essentially a collection of APIs that access data from hotels, airlines and cruise liners, update in real time and provide an easy-to-use interface for booking and ticketing purposes. Once an industry embraced a new technology the whole modus operandi for doing business was flipped on its head.

The same is true for how online streaming movie and TV providers have leveraged APIs to rapidly churn out new apps for smartphones, game consoles and smart TVs – driving another nail in the coffin of quaint corner video shops.

Embracing new digital solutions has unquestionably changed industries. And digital will continue to redefine industries.

We forecast that blockchain, for example, will dramatically change the global capital markets industry. So we created a specialised practice for blockchain technology and invested in Digital Asset Holdings, a leading developer of blockchain technologies. We have a strategic relationship with Ripple, a provider of global financial-settlement solutions that can help bank customers with payments. We also became a member of the Linux Hyperledger project, an open source project to advance the blockchain digital technology for recording and verifying transactions and we established a Blockchain Centre of Excellence in France which provides access to technical and business expertise in blockchain and distributed-ledger capabilities.

That’s approaching the changes on a series of fronts – which given the nature of our industry, makes sense.

While not all management teams need to get involved in every aspect of a new digital technology’s development process, the point is: if you believe in it, embrace it.

Now that sounds easy – but clearly it is not. Many companies, under pressure from shareholders, aren’t investing enough in their digital futures. They are focused on the short-term. They are focused on being able to provide regular dividends and are unwilling or unable to make the argument for shaving off some of the cream of today’s success and investing in a digital future.

But management needs to invest now for the future. Companies need to identify the business models and growth stories they believe in, and focus on investing in the digital technology to make it happen.

Gianfranco Casati is group chief executive – growth markets, responsible for overseeing Accenture’s business in the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America