Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies are accelerating the creation of intelligent enterprises and enabling companies to increasingly integrate themselves into people’s lives. However, this requires a new era of leadership that prioritises trust and greater responsibility. This is according to Accenture Technology Vision 2018, the annual technology report from Accenture that predicts key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years.

The report, which features views from business and IT executives worldwide, including 100 Irish C-level executives and directors, highlights how rapid advancements in technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and the cloud – are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live.

According to results, 78% of Irish businesses report that their organisations seek to gain customer trust and confidence by being transparent in their AI-based decisions and actions. Furthermore, 4 in 5 (81%) Irish businesses surveyed agree that within the next two years, AI will work alongside humans in their organisations, as a co-worker, collaborator and trusted advisor. In order to achieve this, company leadership must acknowledge the increasing impact AI has on human lives and move to “raise” their AI products to act as responsible, productive members of society.

For example, Amazon – through its online presence, Echo device and AI assistant Alexa – has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives to such an extent that developers are building dedicated Amazon lockers into new apartment complexes and people are granting the company physical access to their homes via its smart lock system to let couriers make deliveries when no one is around.

Data remains an issue for Irish businesses – by transforming themselves to run on data, businesses now face a new kind of vulnerability: inaccurate, manipulated and biased data that leads to corrupted business insights and skewed decisions. 85% of Irish businesses agree that organisations are basing their most critical systems and strategies on data, yet many have not invested in the capabilities to verify the truth within it. In line with wider trends, data continues to multiply as Irish businesses collaborate more frequently –  almost half (45%) of Irish companies indicate that they are working with at least twice as many partners than they were two years ago.

“Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society,” said David Kirwan, Head of Technology at Accenture Ireland. “Just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation – and, by extension, the companies that provide those services. This requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information.”

The report also focuses on how virtual and augmented reality technologies are transforming the ways people live and work by removing the distance to people, information and experiences. 83% of Irish businesses believe it will be important or very important to leverage Extended Reality (XR) solutions to close the gap of physical distance when engaging with employees and customers, but only 14% state it is very important for their organisations to be a pioneer in XR solutions.

Further, businesses are making big bets on intelligent environments via robotics, AI and immersive experiences, but bringing these intelligent environments to life will require not only adding key skills and workforce capabilities, but also modernising current enterprise technology infrastructures. 45% of Irish businesses surveyed believe it will be critical over the next two years to leverage customer hardware to meet the computing demands of intelligent environments.

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