Masters of change: a new kind of leadership for a new era

April 1, 2021

Allan King, managing director for Accenture’s Advanced Technology Centre and technology lead for Health and Public Service, shares the tech trends that Accenture’s 2021 Technology Vision says businesses will need to explore to embrace the future and lead change.

For more than 20 years, Accenture has looked deeply into the business landscape to spot emerging technology trends likely to have the greatest disruptive potential in the near future.

This year, the seismic changes experienced during the global pandemic have made one thing crystal clear: technology has served as a lifeline through the last 12 months and is redefining our reality.

So rather than focusing on specific technologies, the Accenture Technology Vision for 2021 is all about how to lead through this pervasive, continuous and accelerating technological change.

Below, I’ll look at each of the five trends and bring out what they mean for all of us leading our businesses into a challenging, uncertain, but also very exciting, future.

TREND 1: STACK STRATEGICALLY

The first trend highlights how we’re entering a new era of competition in which businesses’ technology architecture will become a source of advantage.

With the huge array of choices available to them, businesses can tailor every layer of their technology architecture to achieve their strategic aims more effectively.

But doing so requires a new approach to leadership that seamlessly blends business acumen with tech savvy.

TREND 2: MIRRORED WORLD

The ‘mirrored world’ trend describes what’s becoming possible through the advances and investments in data, AI, and digital twin technologies.

It’s now possible to build dynamic digital models of everything from factories to entire supply chains.

The ability to do that creates the possibility of bringing data and intelligence together at a scale we’ve never seen before, and in the process unlocking new opportunities.

We’ll be able to ask the big questions that really matter to our businesses’ futures – and find new ways to work together to solve them.

TREND 3: I, TECHNOLOGIST

The way technology is evolving is driving a shift away from sole reliance on specialists and towards a more democratic distribution of technology’s power.

Developments like natural language processing, low-code platforms and robotic process automation (to name a few), will increasingly give people across a business the means to create their own solutions.

That’s not to say that IT’s days are numbered. Far from it. But they will focus on major implementations and the most advanced technologies.

People working closest to a business problem or opportunity will have the wherewithal to create solutions to solve them. The result will be businesses that are more innovative and able to keep smartly in step with changing needs.

TREND 4: ANYWHERE, EVERYWHERE

During the pandemic, working remotely has been transformed from an exception to the norm for millions of people.

Technology kept people productive, with many organisations making the shift in previously unimaginable timeframes. The ‘anywhere, everywhere’ trend explores how businesses should capitalise on their success and rethink how their organisation could work in the future.

But it won’t be sufficient to just keep the pandemic model going. Realising the promise of a virtualised workforce requires new attention to making remote working as secure as possible, developing a new culture to maximise success and re-imagining the best role and purpose of physical office space.

TREND 5: FROM ME TO WE

Responding to the demands of the pandemic made it very clear that no business could get through the challenge without the support of others.

The need to stand up new contactless and friction-free ways of working, for example, emphasised the importance of partners.

And that’s the theme of the ‘me to we’ trend.

With the next few years likely to see even greater change in what customers need, regulators demand – and more – businesses will need to build and strengthen their partnerships. The resulting multiparty systems will offer greater resilience and adaptability.

They’ll unlock new ways to approach the market and create new ecosystems to capture industry- wide opportunities.

BECOMING MASTERS OF CHANGE

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has hit the fast-forward button.

Many businesses have experienced change at a pace that they have never seen before. Shifts that were predicted to slowly unfurl over years were made practically overnight.

That’s all clear. The question is: ‘what comes next?’

Answering it is going to require a new type of leader, what we call ‘masters of change’. And there has arguably never been an opportunity to effect important change than the one we have today.

There’s a chance to shape the future to redefine what value is and how to make it more inclusive for people and the planet.

 

‘Innovating a way to recovery’

The North East’s industrial sector is innovating its way to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic as more companies seek to hire skilled robotics staff, latest findings from Accenture show.

According to figures, demand for robotics engineers has increased by 450 per cent in Newcastle since last July, which is nearly double
the 253 per cent rise in Leeds and almost four times the 115 per cent increase recorded in Liverpool. However, the findings, released in Accenture’s UK Tech Talent Tracker1, come with the caveat that the UK’s technology sector remains too London-centric.

The report also found:

• The number of technology job listings in the UK declined by 57 per cent during the past year, with fewer than 55,000 open roles advertised

• The overall decline was driven by a reduced number of job listings for data analytics and cyber security professionals, which fell 53 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively

• With nearly 35,000 roles advertised, cloud computing was the most in-demand technology skill in the UK over the past year

• Job postings for artificial intelligence skills have seen a resurgence, jumping 73 per cent in six months, to approximately 6800. Robotics roles are up by almost two-thirds, to more than 3000, with demand for blockchain and quantum computing skills rising 50 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively

• 41 per cent of all technology-related job postings are for professionals based in London, with more than 420,000 technology professionals— or one-third of all tech professionals in the UK— still citing the capital as their current location, despite the rise in remote working during the pandemic

Reference 1: www.newsroom.accenture.co.uk/english-uk/news/uk-tech-job-openings-declined- in-2020-uk-tech-talent-tracker.htm

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