How will emerging technology trends like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, data verification, “frictionless” technology designs and the skills and capabilities required for the “Internet of thinking” reshape the landscape for small businesses – and the practice of law?
A report from Accenture titled “Accenture Technology Vision 2018” lays out these trends and delves into how they will disrupt the business landscape generally over the next few years, and a Forbes magazine interview of Michael Biltz, managing director of Accenture Technology Vision and a co-author of the report, provided a nice summary of his insights.
The impact of artificial intelligence on businesses and their customers is one such potentially disruptive trend. Biltz told Forbes contributor Steve Olenski, who conducted the Q-and-A, that AI systems will need to be “taught” societal norms like fairness and transparency, as well as the ability to learn from mistakes, a responsibility that needs to be shared by tech experts, marketers and others in business leadership.
The Accenture report and Forbes Q-and-A also discuss virtual and augmented reality, and how they remove distance among people, information and experiences, providing businesses the ability to tap expertise from anywhere in the world in any skill area. The report mentions that BMW provides people the ability to get “inside” one of its cars through augmented reality, for example.
Businesses that have become more data-driven need to lock down the accuracy of that data and ensure that it doesn’t become manipulated and biased in a way that distorts insights and decision-making. Accenture’s report discusses how AI helps to detect fraud as well as inadvertent errors in areas like duplicate expenses and corporate policy violations.
Businesses also need to strike “frictionless” technology-based partnerships to continue growing, which means they need to replace their legacy systems and redesign themselves with new digital ecosystems based around “microservices architectures,” Accenture says. This is an approach using a “suite of tools like application programming interfaces (APIs), containers and cloud to break applications into simple, discrete services,” the report says.
Lastly, the Accenture report and Forbes Q-and-A note that businesses will need to add crucial skills and capabilities to their workforce to bring these changes about, which the report refers to as “the Internet of thinking.” This leads to intelligent solutions like “improving traffic flows in smart cities, telemedicine that continuously analyzes a patient’s condition, and disaster analysis that prevents oil field catastrophes before they start,” the report says.
Moving forward in these five areas will require a fundamental shift in leadership approach and capabilities, Biltz told Forbes. New leadership will need to ensure that companies not only have the right technology but are using it in the right way to embed the company, product or service in their customers’ lives. “It’s less about using technology to sell a product and more about using a suite of technologies that enables a company to partner with consumers on a daily basis to help them achieve their personal goals,” Biltz said. “That could be about saving for college or feeding a family on a budget.”
The practice of law has always been the last industry to adapt to changes in business practices and technology. Recently, law schools are only now beginning to understand the importance of technology to the practice and are finally training lawyers in tech skills that can translate to the changing tech climate. Lawyers will have to get out of their comfort zone with technology and adapt their practices to the evolving business landscape.