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Is Your Company a Tech Innovator or a Laggard?

June 1, 2020
New Accenture report urges companies to work harder to remove the silos that are keeping them from extracting the biggest benefits from their technology investments.

For years, the need to eradicate organizational silos has been driving companies to break down the walls between their departments, processes and people with the hopes of getting everyone focused on and working from the same playbook.

If a new Accenture report is on target, those efforts have fallen short in the realm of technology, where investments are happening without factoring in how the hardware, software, or applications can benefit the entire organization.

5 Characteristics of Innovators

In Full Value. Full Stop: How to scale innovation and achieve full value with Future Systems, Accenture says this struggle to transfer innovations across the enterprise and realize the potential of technology investment is creating an “innovation achievement gap”—or, the difference between potential and realized value from technology investments. It says technology “leaders” or innovators differentiate themselves on these five points:

  1. They adopt technologies to make their organizations fast and flexible. Leaders are moving to decoupled data, infrastructure and applications that enable greater flexibility and a faster-moving IT culture. Eighty-three percent of them agree that it’s important to decouple data from legacy infrastructure, compared with only 37% of technology laggards. Leaders opt for flexible, uniform, and scalable architectures capable of responding to market demands, like seamless customer payments,” Accenture points out. “Laggards, on the other hand, find it difficult to move away from rigid IT architectures, which leaves them unable to maximize investments in innovation.”
  2. They use the cloud. Cloud computing enables companies to successfully utilize other technologies, including artificial intelligence and analytics, Accenture says. In fact, they treat the cloud as a catalyst for innovation. Ninety-five percent of leaders have adopted sophisticated cloud services like serverless computing, compared to 30% of laggards, who tend to see the cloud as a cost-effective “data center.”  
  3. They see data as being both an asset and a liability. Out of the 28 technologies Accenture surveyed companies about, respondents ranked “technologies associated with real-time data capture and analysis” as the most important to transforming/improving their business processes. It says that leaders ensure data quality, creating security measures that anticipate threats and building ethically responsible frameworks for managing data and AI. “This establishes a virtuous cycle of data creation and consumption,” Accenture adds, “because quality is always improving.”
  4. They manage technology investments well—across the enterprise. Innovation leaders have clear visibility into company-wide technology investments. For example, 94% of them systematically track return on investments in automation across the organization, compared to only 47% of laggards, by Accenture’s count. Leaders work toward business alignment—a key stepping stone for innovation transfer,” it says, “by breaking down barriers between IT and other departments (including procurement).”
  5. They find creative ways to nurture talent. Accenture’s survey respondents believe that without some retraining, 52% of their IT workforce’s skills and almost half (47%) of their non-IT workforce’s skills will be obsolete in three years. “As these systems evolve, so must the IT workforce,” Accenture states. “In fact, a workforce immersed in yesterday’s technologies is one of the biggest obstacles to creating the expansive, flexible, human-centric systems necessary for success.”

Staying Ahead of the Pack

Spending money on the latest technologies and working hard to solve problems as they arise isn’t enough to get to the top in today’s fiercely competitive business environment. According to Accenture, leaders have twice the revenue growth of laggards, the latter of which could miss out on up to 46% of their annual revenues by 2023 if they don’t change.

“To scale innovations repeatedly and grow twice as fast as others, companies have to depart from adopting technologies as point-solutions,” Accenture says. “Those that wait will find it increasingly difficult to catch up, as new technologies proliferate and the pace of innovation accelerates.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.