UPDATED 14:00 EDT / FEBRUARY 12 2019

BIG DATA

Q&A: The danger in calling data the ‘new oil’

Deepening the points of integration between artificial intelligence and the data flowing from edge devices are creating new efficiencies and value opportunities for businesses and consumers alike, but constant access to personal information has its risks.

To ensure a responsible and successful future, Paul Daugherty (pictured), chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture LLP, is urging organizations to develop more people-conscious data strategies.

Daugherty spoke with Jeff Frick, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the recent Accenture Technology Vision 2019 in San Francisco, when the tech services giant opened its Innovation Hub to consolidate its lab and other operations in the Bay Area. They discussed the state of data use it normalizes in the wake of a digital renaissance and what businesses should prioritize next. Answers have been condensed for clarity.

What are some of the big changes from a year ago?

The key takeaway this year is that we’re entering the post-digital era, and I think many people will be surprised by that. Last year companies spent $1.1 trillion on digital transformation. Ninety-four percent of companies are doing some stage of digital transformation. Sixty-eight percent of them said they’re pretty set with their digital transformation.

Every organization is adopting digital. What’s going to differentiate you? In the post-digital era, it’s about some new business concepts, how you shape your business, new technologies and new corporate obligations that are going to be instrumental in your success.

You said that the responsibility for the company has moved beyond stewardship for their customers, employees and shareholders to active contributors to the community.

It’s instrumental to your business success to be responsible, create trust with your workers, employees, consumers and citizens. We’re creating increasingly intimate technology-enabled experiences for consumers. Think about implantable medical devices to prevent epileptic seizures. The monitoring devices we use. The information that’s collected on us.

People swipe on Tinder 1.1 million times per second, 3.7 million Google searches per second, 178 million emails per second, 266,000 hours of Netflix tracking every pause, play, fast forward. Our information is being used in so many different ways, and the technology is enabling companies to create individualized services for you that are great for consumers, but only if companies build the trust with their customers and honor the boundaries of responsibility.

A lot of people, including myself, in the past have used phrases like “Data is the new oil.” I think that’s dead wrong. Data isn’t fuel or gold. Each piece of data is a fragment of a person and represents a part of a person’s activity and identity. If you take a view that it’s not all about optimizing the use of data, but using data in the right way that builds trust and provides value for the consumer, you get that equitable exchange of value. That’s what the future’s all about.

How is machine and human interaction evolving?

All these technologies are being designed by us; we’re deciding the principals around it. This is about how we design the world we want. Two-thirds of workers are optimistic about how technology is going to improve their job, but only half of those workers believe that their companies are going to provide them with the right training.

It’s not just nice for companies to train their employees; it’s critical to their success. The jobs are changing so fast that if you as a company don’t invest in a learning platform to continuously advance your people to fill the new jobs as they’re being redefined every day, you as a company are going to get left behind.

What does the Innovation Hub enable you to do with the clients?

We invest over $800 million a year in research and development, over a billion dollars a year in training for our people, and that results in things like 6,500 patents that we generate, more than anybody else in our sector, and 1,400 of those come from our people right here in the San Francisco Innovation Hub.

Our Innovation Architecture is a unique way of putting together capability from research and thought leadership to our Accenture Ventures, which is our venture capital investing arm, to Accenture Labs, which is our R&D, and inventors to our studios where we co-create with clients to our industry professionals. We can put all that together to turn the idea into results very quickly for our clients.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Accenture Technology Vision 2019:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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