Accenture crowdsources 25 signals of business change

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The firm offers an interactive tool to guide companies trying to navigate change in the "era of compressed transformation."

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Image: Accenture

Accenture, the global professional services company, has identified 25 signals of business change post-pandemic narrowed from a list of 400 crowdsourced trends from external advisers, academics and researchers. Six stood out, the firm said in its Business Futures 2021 report, which aims to guide companies to navigate change in the "era of compressed transformation."

The firm found that while 88% of companies have a clear picture of the challenges they face, only 6% are confident in their current abilities to foresee and respond to future disruption. Annette Rippert, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy & Consulting, stated the crowdsourced signals aim to give executives confidence "to not just see, but also seize their best future."

Disruption and speed to adjust were the names of the game during the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital transformation efforts accelerated, yet according to a recent Harvard Business Review report, executives expressed concern that they were falling behind on making the right choices to differentiate from competitors.

SEE: Digital transformation: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Billions of dollars are at stake in digital transformation efforts, which include moving data to the cloud and adopting digital technology to transform business, among other strategies. According to Statista, between 2020 and 2024, the direct investments into digital transformation are projected to reach a total of $7.8 trillion.

As TechRepublic recently reported, the key ingredients of a digital transformation success include working with trusted partners, a commitment to continuous improvement, prioritizing the business and a dedicated budget, according to a Forrester/ThoughtWorks study.

Because of the pandemic, Accenture said, "longstanding trends like the increased importance of experiences, greater adoption of cloud and changes in buying patterns have all been interrupted, accelerated or reversed.

"At the same time, new supply chains and business models were set up in days not months, and the promise of new scientific breakthroughs was emphatically realized in months, not years," the firm added.

Accenture tracked 25 signals of business change expected to have the greatest impact on organizations within the next three years and turned those into Business Futures Interactive Radar. From that, it highlighted six signals:

  1. Learning from the future—See change before it happens.
  2. Pushed to the edge—Decentralize decision-making.
  3. Sustainable purpose—Move from purpose-focused to purpose-run.
  4. Supply unbounded—Break physical limits of fulfillment. 
  5. Real virtualitie—Redefine reality and place.
  6. The new scientific method—Become a scientific company.

"It's clear that while organizations were compelled to adapt to the compressed transformation of the past year, today there is a strong consensus that they must proactively shift their strategies, rethink their trajectory and bring their people along to adapt to this new landscape as they reinvent for a profoundly different tomorrow," Rippert stated.

Methodology

Accenture said it used a three-step process to compile Business Futures 2021: 

  • Crowdsource: 400 signals of business change were crowdsourced from more than 400 researchers and members of Accenture's expert network—including representatives from across business, academia and civil society. It synthesized this input to an initial list of 30 signals. 
  • Prioritize: The firm then stress-tested the signals with its global community of more than 2,000 industry and functional leaders across Accenture—using interviews, surveys and workshops—to refine the list of signals to 25, of which it prioritized six.
  • Test and substantiate: It then used mixed research methods to test and further substantiate the six prioritized signals. These methods included economic modeling, data science (leveraging artificial intelligence and natural language processing) as well as a global survey of 2,650 C-suite executives fielded from March through April 2021. Respondents were C-level executives at large organizations based in 18 countries and spanning 20 industries.

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