Accenture: CIOs Vision Should Include Social and Contextual IT

Both social and mobile data are two of the main themes in Accenture's technology vision for 2012.

The Accenture Technology vision report outlines the emerging technology trends that forward-thinking CIOs should and  use to position their organizations to drive growth and high performance, rather than just focusing on cost-cutting and efficiency improvements.

Business leaders now accept the fact that their organizations’ future success is tied to their ability to keep pace with technology. CIOs have to play a key role in helping these business leaders recognize and seize the opportunities enabled by new trends—but the price of progress will have to be paid, along with new risks assumed.

The trends in the report cover the next three to five years and are positioning IT at the forefront of what is driving growth and ultimately success. (So much for all of the recent reporting on the eventual death of the CIO role - or the suggestion that the role of the CIO will be eventually absorbed by the CFO of large organizations.)

Two trends, context-based services and social-driven IT, have the potential to create new revenue streams, transform core business processes, and establish new channels for communications with employees, customers and partners. The results could be impressive including stronger loyalty, deeper trust and increased sales.

Accenture has identified six technology trends that will influence business over the next three to five years:

1. Context-based services. Where you are and what you are doing will drive the next wave of digital services.


2. Converging data architectures. Successfully rebalancing the data architecture portfolio and blending the structured with the unstructured are key to turning data into new streams of value.


3. Industrialized data services. The ability to share data will make it more valuable—but only if it is managed differently.


4. Social-driven IT. Realize that social is not just a bolt-on marketing channel. It will have true business-wide impact.


5. PaaS-enabled agility. The maturing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market will shift the emphasis from cost-cutting to business innovation, supporting rapid evolution for business processes that need continuous change.


6. Orchestrated analytical security. Organizations will have to accept that their gates will be breached and begin preparing their second line of defense—data platforms—to mitigate the damage caused by attacks that get through.

Social-driven IT is one of the major trends Accenture continues to follow in its research on strategy for CEOs and CIOs, but social is also seen as an important trend used toward context-driven services.

Context is a primary focus in the Accenture Technology Vision for 2012. The consulting firm believes the most powerful information services will be those that know where you are and what you are doing, with the intelligence to present you with the most useful information tools for most situations.

Social collaboration will be a powerful input for contextual systems to draw on because in the process of chattering with each other, employees expose more information about themselves and their connections, current projects, expertise, and interests. Location-based mobile apps are another aspect of the solution to providing the "where" in who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Below are some of the key steps Accenture suggests organizations take over the next 12 months:

For Context-Driven Services:

1. Create strong links with business functions that directly influence the consumer experience.


2. Compile a firm list of context-based services that is regularly updated as circumstances change--and that forms the basis of discussion with the business side in order to drive the platform for context across the enterprise.


3. Form a pilot team that blends user experience specialists with data scientists to experiment with new contextual data services.


4. Establish an environment that enables experimentation--rapid development, planning, and deployment.


5. Begin developing a data platform to handle contextual data and analytics, including appropriate privacy controls on potentially sensitive personal information.


6. Develop a data roadmap to depict how to acquire the critical data necessary for the next generation of context-based services.

For Social-Driven IT:

1. Engage in social listening to ingest and understand the social conversations that affect the enterprise.


2. Establish a core IT team to design and pilot cross-functional social media platforms.


3. Work with individual business units to help them layer their social strategies on top of IT's enterprise-wide strategy for social, with the goal of moving beyond the listening phase to managing social interactions with consumers.


4. Put in place the technology to support the business' need to monetize its social interactions rather than simply communicating via social media.


5. Identify the metrics that matter for tracking the success of social and ensure that the technologies used actually deliver those metrics.


6. Evaluate the impact of social on the organization's roadmap for investment in collaboration.


7. Determine how interactions among the organization's employees might change by using social.

For a full .pdf of the published report please visit Accenture.

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Bill has been a member of the technology and publishing industries for more than 25 years and brings extensive expertise to the roles of CEO, CIO, and Executive Editor. Most recently, Bill was COO and Co-Founder of and the parent company PSN Inc. Previously, Bill held the position of CTO of both Wiseads New Media and