Rethinking IT: Tech Investments that Drive Business Growth

Making the right technology investments can double your growth rate compared to that of your less progressive peers, according to a new report from Accenture.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor

October 3, 2019

4 Min Read
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Everybody knows they need to change their old technology stack and processes. But is it enough to upgrade your current systems and maybe add an analytics or AI center of excellence to handle the new initiatives? Probably not, according to a new report from consulting firm Accenture.

To get the full value out of technology investments, organizations need to focus on investing in what Accenture calls "Future Systems." Generally speaking, these future systems are a rethinking of the architecture and technology a company needs to move quickly and take advantage of tomorrow's opportunities. They use technologies like cloud, along with end-to-end data pipelines that are flexible enough for tomorrow's AI and other projects.

"Today's C-suite is investing staggering amounts of money in new technology, but not every company is realizing the benefits of innovation as a result of those investments," said Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive, Accenture Technology Services, in a statement. "Competing in today's data-driven, post-digital economy means organizations need to have a carefully calibrated strategy toward technology adoption and a clear vision for what their companies' future systems should look like."

Do it right and you will grow at double the rate of your less progressive peers.

Accenture says there are companies that are already on the right track with future systems -- the top 10% that the firm has identified as Leaders. At the other end of the spectrum, Accenture calls the bottom 25% Laggards. There's a big difference between how these two groups of organizations are performing.

Leaders are growing at more than twice the rate of Laggards. What's more, Laggards stand to potentially miss out on 46% in revenue gains by 2023 if they don't change their enterprise technology approach, according to the Accenture report.

Accenture's new report titled Full Value. Full Stop. How to scale innovation and achieve full value with Future Systems, is based on interviews with C-level executives from 8,356 companies, 20 industries, and 22 countries.

According to the report, a big part of the change ahead means rethinking traditional IT as we've known it as compared to what's needed in today's businesses.

"Value is difficult to capture in part because the conventional IT 'stack' -- spanning software applications, hardware, telecommunications, facilities and data centers -- wasn't built for today's world of analytics, sensors, mobile computing, artificial intelligence applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), and billions of devices. Nor was it designed to adapt to the world of tomorrow, whatever that might be," the report said.

Instead, Accenture said, the key to success going forward for these companies is investment in future systems, which are "a state in which businesses adopt complex interconnected living systems of technologies, applications, and people." This approach will allow "a seamless flow of product and service innovations from one process to another."

Accenture breaks down these future systems into the following three categories: boundaryless, adaptable, and radically human. The following are Accenture's brief definitions of the terms:

  • Boundaryless organizations use the cloud and have a uniform approach to data, security, and governance. They have established paths for exploring unconventional business and technology partnerships, according to the Accenture report.

  • Adaptable organizations are those that have incorporated enterprise-wide use of automation and AI, a continuous data supply chain in the cloud to power AI in the enterprise, and a stable architecture that is also modular, flexible, and constantly evolving.

  • Radically human systems incorporate today's artificial intelligence building blocks. Technologies that contribute to these systems include natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, voice recognition, and machine learning. Accenture said these are the systems that talk, listen, see, and understand like humans do, and are intended to simplify human-machine interactions. What's more, companies that incorporate these systems have a structured, fail-fast approach to evaluate the potential of emerging technologies.

These three categories are what will drive organizations to be leaders and really get the value out of their modern IT investments.

"To maximize the return on their technology investments, leading organizations are improving their technology quotient, going beyond building pockets of excellence, to implementing a strategy for achieving enterprise-wide transformation," Ghosh said.

For more on executive strategy read:

Enterprise Guide to Digital Transformation

CIO Survey Shows Shifts in IT Leadership Role

How Southwest Airlines Chooses Big Impact Analytics Projects

The Enterprise Prepares for IoT


About the Author(s)

Jessica Davis

Senior Editor

Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: @jessicadavis.

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