Customer habits have changed, employee habits have changed and whole industry landscapes have been disrupted, seemingly forever.

It seems short-sighted to ignore those changes.

Accenture’s research has identified five trends that reinforce the theme of my recent blog posts: that we can use the year 2020 to reset the way we do business and emerge stronger than before.

Here are the challenges we are all facing. (These findings are from our research with our partner HfS which is available here:

  • Disruption: nearly 80% of businesses are concerned about disruption and competitive threats from digital-savvy entrants.
  • Data: 80% of companies are looking at the data they have available and finding half of it is unstructured. It’s sitting in emails or social-media feeds or it’s data provided by third parties.
  • CX: There is a drive to improve overall customer experience, but some companies are finding their CX improvement efforts are being hampered. In fact, half of the companies we surveyed are finding their back-offices can’t keep up with the CX improvements they want to make.

The way to address these problems, as I intimated in my last post, is this idea of “Intelligent Operations.” I spoke earlier about its various elements, but I thought I’d collect them all here for ease of reference.

  1. Innovative Talent. I’ve blogged recently about how talent isn’t enough and that companies need to enable a more innovative culture. But the point remains: enterprises will need a much more agile human resources function and a more flexible approach to recruiting that leverages an open talent marketplace.
  2. A Data-driven Backbone. Over 90% of organizations believe that data-driven decisions will help them generate breakthrough customer insights, which is why 85% of companies are developing a data strategy that will turn their masses of structured and unstructured data into insights that will help them gain market share or cut costs.
  3. Applied Intelligence. Nearly 90% of organizations believe the Triple-A Trifecta of automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence will become the holy grail of business and process transformation.
  4. The Cloud. Nine out of 10 enterprises expect plug-and-play digital services. Some 25% of companies have already modernised or replaced their legacy systems, and another 42% have concrete plans in place to do so.
  5. A Smart Partnership Ecosystem. Accenture South Africa’s CEO Vukani Mngxati has written about the fourth industrial revolution. The idea is for startups, technology providers, platform players and even academia to develop symbiotic relationships to help enterprises achieve their goals.

We’ve seen how a sense of urgency driven by the C-suite can trigger a transformation in a matter of weeks. This next phase may be a bit more complex. Companies need to solve the paradox of keeping their existing customers happy through a better CX while fending off digital disruptors, and at the same time improving productivity and reducing costs.

These five trends can help them do that.