Imagine movies and digital games of the future. Audiences will live inside of stories, fully immersed in fictional worlds through virtual reality.
Human-like artificial intelligence characters will respond, anticipate and react to each audience member's choice, and payments and access will be facilitated by distributed ledger technology.
This may seem farfetched, or at least far off to some, but companies are already building these kinds of interactions in the entertainment industry.
Always wanting to push the envelope, Weta Workshop is developing a new mixed reality headset which allows you to turn your own living room in to the setting for a robot invasion.
Yet it’s not just the entertainment sector, where these exciting new technologies are making their mark. The world is moving in to a post-digital era.
In the business sphere, both in New Zealand and abroad, organisations are setting their sights beyond digital transformation, and many realise they need new technology in their arsenal to succeed.
The next set of technologies that we believe companies will need to master are Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Extended Reality (XR) and Quantum Computing. This is DARQ power, as revealed by Accenture’s Technology Vision 2019.
Individual DARQ technologies are already making a difference across industries today. AI plays a critical role in optimising processes and influencing strategic decision-making.
XR, an immersive technology, creates entirely new ways for people to experience and engage with the world around them. Distributed ledgers (more commonly known as blockchain) are perhaps best known in the context of cryptocurrencies, but they are expanding networks and capabilities by eliminating the need for trusted third parties.
And quantum computing, the DARQ technology that remains the most experimental, will usher in novel ways to approach and solve the hardest computational problems.
In New Zealand, a range of companies are investing in this new set of technologies.
For example, Fonterra and New Zealand Post are trialling blockchain technology to stop exported food fraud and increase China’s trust in New Zealand products.
German carmaker Mercedes-Benz has invested US$7 million in Soul Machines, an artificial intelligence research company and run by the Oscar-winning Weta digital animations wizard Dr Mark Sagar.
The Starship Foundation has introduced extended reality technology to helps children and their families, who are unable to leave the hospital, enjoy some wonderful New Zealand experiences.
New Zealand researchers are running experiments using quantum computing supplied by IBM.
Yet it’s the collective power of DARQ where we see the most potential and where companies are investing.
Of those businesses surveyed by Accenture, 89 per cent are experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies, expecting them to be key differentiators, and are substantially increasing their DARQ investments.
All four DARQ technologies are powerful on their own. But as they mature, they will push each other forward further.
For example, the blend of AI and XR is helping to solve one VR sickness. Businesses have identified numerous potential applications of XR – like virtual training, ‘hands on’ education, or even realistic online shopping – but have been stymied by the symptoms of motion sickness that many VR users experience.
To address this, LG Display is partnering with Sogang University in South Korea where researchers are using a deep learning AI algorithm to lower latency and motion blur.
Ambitious companies are looking at DARQ technologies for the next source of differentiation and disruption and a further opportunity to build highly customised experiences for their customers and business partners.
Our top tips for those companies looking to take advantage of DARQ power is:
Prioritise the completion of ongoing digital transformation efforts.
Consider where businesses in your industry stumbled with social, mobile, analytics and cloud adoption and what pitfalls were difficult or impossible to recover from and this will help you build a roadmap for DARQ technologies.
Determine how your organisation will access the DARQ technologies that are relevant for your business, keeping in mind their different levels of maturity.
Approach hiring, training, and employee retention with DARQ in mind. As the technologies become more pervasive, expertise will be increasingly in-demand.
Task your team with exploring different possible futures for your organisation, driven by the industry level impact of DARQ.
DARQ will enable the post-digital era of business and technology, and those looking to lead in that era must start now. For some, this means launching pilots.
For others, it means looking into startups and building relationships or making acquisitions. The companies that recognise the opportunity—and begin to explore possibilities and investments with strategic focus—will be leaders in a brand-new competitive landscape.
Justin Gray is head of Accenture New Zealand.
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