Continuous innovation: setting business apart in the post-digital era


Rory Moore | Innovation Lead | Accenture South Africa | mail me |

Businesses will have to embed innovation in their DNA to future-proof their operations for the unparalleled pace of technological change in what we refer to in our Tech Vision 2020 as the post-digital era.

In the past, businesses with a unique asset could enjoy a competitive advantage and sweat that asset for ten, twenty or even thirty years before their competitors caught on.

Nowadays however, new developments in the marketplace occur so quickly, that businesses that do not continuously reinvent themselves, could literally become redundant overnight.

The guiding principle is that innovation is a learnable human practice such as law, medicine and engineering that integrates the human aspects of innovation with the technical aspects of innovation to produce new ideas and technologies that proactively drive your business objectives.

These objectives could range from solving business problems and increasing productivity by generating greater output with less input – to designing and delivering products that customers love.

Innovation DNA serves to create an engine or blueprint for continuous innovation, which in turn ensures that innovation is not just the responsibility of a single department, but a way of working that is culturally adopted across the entire organisation.

There are three building blocks of innovation DNA.

A short overview of the three building blocks of innovation DNA

Continuing the digital transformation journey

According to a study by Accenture Interactive titled Capturing the Potential of Omni-Channel Commerce, consumers now connect with brands at an average four to six touch points and they migrate from traditional platforms to digital devices to generate deeper insights before they take the desired action.

The brands that are the most successful, are therefore the ones who consistently engage their consumers through the most immersive customer experiences (CX).

Consumers expectations are however shaped by the best experience they’ve had, which means companies have to constantly up their game to deliver exactly the right message to the right person, at the right time and on the right channel. To this end, constant digital transformation is no longer an option, but a must.

Digital technology is also a key enabler to continuously increase productivity, reduce costs, optimise business processes and drive innovations that impact the bottom line.

Leveraging DARQ

Companies across the world are already adopting distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality and quantum computing (DARQ) technologies to improve the way they work or enhance the way they engage with their consumers.

Traditional supply chain management practices are for example commonly replaced by distributed ledgers (D). A distributed ledger basically uses independent computers or nodes to record, synchronise and share transactions in electronic ledgers among third parties from multiple institutions, sites or geographies and utilises cryptography to organise these growing lists of records into logical blockchains.

Some of the business benefits of distributed ledger technology includes that it is much faster and less expensive than traditional supply chain management software, plus it creates a completely secure, transparent, undisputable and tamper-proof database of all transactions among a multiparty supply chain, that achieves significant savings for all involved.

There is also an increasing uptake of using AI and its various sub-fields, including robotic process automation, human-machine learning, virtual agents and chatbots to support and grow human capacity and improve operational efficiency.

In a typical call centre scenario for example, AI can be leveraged for greater efficiency, to enhance and grow human capacity and improve customer service. i.e., whilst an operator is on a call, AI can be utilised to ‘listen in’ and quickly update all the relevant systems that an operator normally would have to execute manually, upon completion of that call.

Virtual agents and chatbots can also make it possible for companies to improve their customer service by running 24/7 call centres, especially when one considers that around 80% of the queries are typically generic of nature.

All this frees up the operators’ time, so they can be reassigned to activities that hold more business value. A case in point is a local banking group that has been able to upskill their call centre operators to universal bankers, due to using AI.

The ‘R’ in DARQ refers to extended reality which combines real-augmented-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions for improved business outcomes.

Today, to name just one, augmented reality is commonly used by heavy industry to better connect their frontline workers with their environment and improve productivity, safety and quality of output.

In practice, augmented reality can for example enable technicians to look at any piece of equipment, such as a server, through wearable headsets or mobile devices, and immediately detect issues through easy-to-interpret data that is graphically displayed.

The ‘Q’ in DARQ represents quantum computing, a concept which is very much still ahead of the thinking curve. Essentially, quantum computing uses phenomena such as quantum mechanics, superposition and entanglement, to analyse and interpret complex sets of data much faster than any normal computer can.

In fact, Google announced that it has a quantum computer that is a hundred million times faster than any of the conventional computers in its lab.

As such, quantum computing can be leveraged for rapid complex problem solving such as more accurate medical diagnoses and prescription of treatment protocols, establishing the most suitable financial strategies to ensure a carefree retirement, and determining which materials are most suitable and cost-effective for producing goods, to name but a few.

Swiftly moving from R&D to practical application

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, considering the unparalleled speed at which new products and services are now entering the market, it is no longer sufficient for companies to have innovation DNA.

It is also crucial to innovate quickly. Traditionally, companies have been built for safety and reliability, but today, you must also be built for speed.

We look at the research and development (R&D) of products and services through three lenses: feasibility, viability and desirability. Quite simply put, this means your products and services must add real business value, it must be technically possible to develop them, customers must love them, and you must able to take them to market as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Our Liquid Studio is a unique first-of-its-kind rapid application development unit, which is purposefully dedicated to the help businesses achieve exactly that, through the latest and most progressive new technologies, skills and methods of working.




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