In this series I’ve talked about Future Systems. It is useful to look at what the research has to say about that.

To recap — the research is the largest enterprise study Accenture has ever done; we surveyed 8,300 C-suite executives, split between IT and other functions. We characterised the top 10% of companies — in terms of their progress in the evolution to Future Systems — as Leaders and the bottom 25% as Laggards.

When it came to Future Systems” the research points to three characteristics: Boundaryless, adaptable, and radically human.

I’ve spoken in previous articles about how Leaders think in terms of breaking the historical rigid divisions in IT departments between database, applications and infrastructure. Three quarters of the survey respondents recognise that systems are breaking those barriers. Systems are also erasing barriers between people and machines, and even between competing organisations.

Boundaryless systems are cloud-based, have a uniform approach to data, security and governance, and have established paths for exploring unconventional partnerships — giving businesses almost infinite opportunities to improve how they operate.

Future systems are also adaptable: what this means in the context of the research is that the systems learn, improve, and scale by themselves, eliminating the friction that hinders business growth and helping humans make better decisions, much faster. These adaptable systems are powered by advances in cloud, data, and intelligent technologies. It makes companies adaptable to change.

If you have enterprise-wide automation and AI and a stable, modular de-coupled, constantly evolving architecture, you are on track to having an adaptable system.

For me the most interesting aspect of Future Systems is the third component: radically human.

Radically human systems talk, listen, see and understand just like we do. Four out of five — a full 80% — of our survey respondents say systems will interact seamlessly with humans, and the same number think these systems will embrace the way humans work — not the other way around.

The theme continues to be one of breaking internal barriers. Nine out of 10 of the Leaders are extremely effective at working with cross-department teams that combine IT and business to create customer-centric solutions, compared with only four out of 10 of the Laggards.

Radically human technologies may include natural-language processing, computer vision, voice recognition, and machine learning. We see these systems becoming less “artificial” and more “intelligent,” making them easier to interact with, and more efficient.

Leading companies have a very deliberate and systematic approach to being radically human. They have a fail-fast approach to evaluating new technologies. They also spend time and energy building trust between people and machines. And they use human-centric design as a standard practice.

As I reported in my first article in this series, it is companies that can think in terms of systems, as opposed to point-solutions, that stand to outpace others in terms of both revenue and margin growth. It starts with envisioning their own version of boundaryless, adaptable and radically human Future Systems.

For more insights please contact me directly. I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Or download the full report by clicking here.