10 key techological trends in business – or should that be 11?

Anthony Haynes writes: I enjoy exploring blogs written by FJWilson clients. Amongst the best is ACCA’s ‘blog — insights’, available here: http://blogs.accaglobal.com/. Typically its posts are concise and crunchy.

One such post, based on the publication of  ACCA’s (and IMA’s) report, Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change, is ‘Digital Darwinism’ by Helen Brand OBE (6 January). Brand presents the ten technology trends that, according to the report, “have the potential to significantly reshape the business and accountancy landscape”.

They are:

  1. mobile;
  2. big data;
  3. artificial intelligence and robotics;
  4. cyber security;
  5. educational;
  6. the cloud;
  7. payment systems;
  8. virtual and augmented reality;
  9. digital service delivery;
  10. social.

It’s difficult to argue against the importance of any of the above trends.

Since reading the post, however, I’ve asked myself, “If there was an eleventh key trend, what would it be?”

One candidate  — one that has implications both for ACCA’s accountancy landscape and for our own landscape of talent acquisition and management — is persistence.

New technologies may to some displace old ones, but they don’t necessarily altogether replace them. Take the bike, for example. In The discovery of France (Picador, 2008), Graham Robb points to the role of the bicycle in creating a sense of France as a nation by enabling people to travel between locations more. It’s hard to believe that the bike will ever achieve that degree of centrality again. Yet though the bicycle has been dethroned by the car, it hasn’t disappeared. It persists because, though the car is better than the bike at many things, it isn’t better at everything.

Similarly, painting has survived the advent of photography and radio the advent of television. Such forms persist.

Many of ACCA’s ten trends identified are sexy — notably virtual and augmented reality. Persistence as a trend is the opposite: not sexy but, rather, grey and boring. Yet not unimportant. Ignoring the persistence trend leads routinely to an exaggeration (whether utopian and apocalyptic) of the impact of technology.

Take talent acquisition, for example. According to some commentators, new technology — social media, in particular — is going to sweep away the talent acquisition industry.

We think it is indeed likely to sweep away those aspects of the industry that can most readily be automated (the commodified parts, if you like). But then how do you gain an advantage over competitors, who are using the same talent acquisition apps?

As the landscape looks in 2014, our experience is that in-depth service, based on empathy for client  and candidate, remains at a premium. Our own experience over the first four years of our business has been that technological development, rather than removing the need for that service, has made it easier to provide.

Our prediction, then, is that the trend of persistence will itself persist.

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