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Avanade’s tech trends and R&D focus: Navigating the future with trust

  • Posted on May 19, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes

Three years ago, we launched a new type of research on future trends called Trendlines. Trendlines are not predictions about individual technologies, but rather our research and thinking on their potential business impact based on early signals we see across people, culture and technology. We’re approaching a critical inflection point with technology, industry and society that cuts across every business, and decisions in the coming few years will shape the next decade.

The question is no longer, “Do we have the technology?” but rather “What’s the best technology for our people, customers and partners? Do our people and customers trust us?”

The relationship between technology and trust
Trust is the bedrock of business and has driven technological change for millennia. Some of the oldest writing in the world governed the exchange of sheep, grain and honey over 5,000 years ago in the Sumerian settlement of Uruk. Marks on clay tablets and tokens established a system of accounts and contracts to build trust among priests, craftspeople and traders.

According to global communications firm Edelman, trust is at its lowest point ever. And we expect the trust plane to shift, when you combine low trust with an acceleration of technology advancements where big questions aren’t answered yet – Web3, metaverse, crypto, quantum as examples, plus add an additional 3 billion more people coming online by 2030. We believe future growth will come to organizations that take a trust lens to guide them during so much continual change.

Based on our signal gathering and research, our new Trendlines report highlights five trends that are crucial to any organization and where trust will have the biggest impact, and where technology and human behavior have the most potential to disrupt. Within each trend we mention work we’re doing with clients. While these trends have not been fully realized yet, they offer additional proof that early adopters are showing the way.

Democratization of work
There is a power shift happening, transferring more power to employees: to communicate and organize, connect directly with customers, and work from anywhere, sometimes using their own tools. How long will it last, we don’t know. This democratization of work is bringing greater autonomy and a stronger desire for clarity on sense of purpose.

  • What does this mean for trust: We’ll see new employee value propositions, alternate governance structures and new ways of getting workers the tools they need.
  • Client indicator: At a large retail client, Avanade initiated a program to improve communications for its frontline workers across 2,500 stores — reimagining the workplace employee experience.

Resource-aware ecosystems
We need to recognize that many software developers have gotten sloppy – how many of us consider constraints? Far more awareness of resources – energy and materials – will be integrated into the tech stack. We will return to creative use of finite resources and regenerative choices of exploitive ones.

  • What does this mean for trust: People will increasingly need to trust that any organization they interact with — whether as consumers, workers or citizens — is committed to managing resources and building sustainable, responsible tech ecosystems.
  • Client indicator: SSE, a leading generator of renewable electricity and one of the largest electricity network companies in the UK, has launched its “Flying Squad” initiative with Microsoft, Avanade and NatureScot to monitor puffin numbers around the Scottish coastline. If successful, it’s expected that the technology will be used for several species-recognition projects around SSE sites, including hydro power stations and wind farms.

Secure cooperative architectures
Privacy and security are still top priorities, but flexible networks (of both people and organizations) are creating new ways for discrete organizations to intersect and collaborate via data cooperatives. This networked collaboration can fulfill one of the key promises of Web3, but without requiring any commitment to Web3 philosophy.

  • What does this mean for trust: Organizations will start working together through multiparty systems in ways they never have before, making co-opetition a new frontier for innovation.
  • Client indicator: Avanade is working with the World Health Organization and Microsoft to create the world's first comprehensive, end-to-end data solution for global health: The World Health Data Hub.  COVID-19 has underscored the need for efficient, multilateral cooperation that is responsive to unique country needs and reflects their specific priorities.

A new software canvas
It may sound crazy, but software is coming to your sofa — in fact, many physical objects, including our walls, clothing, office chairs and tables, will have sensors. We don’t mean IoT. This is about a new software canvas and how the physical world becomes programmable. It brings a new meaning to "Hello world!"

  • What does this mean for trust: For these new physical experiences to be net-positive, we need to build transparency and respect for human needs and capabilities directly into them.
  • Client indicator: Avanade outfitted a new corporate office campus to showcase the possibilities of smart buildings using digital twin technology that includes new conference table and workspace technologies

Safer and more resilient AI
“Safety” is far more nuanced for AI than it is for factory-floor machinery, resulting in organizations needing to codify AI safety rules that successfully resolve complex trade-offs around values. Businesses that invest the effort to tackle these substantive safety issues will be able to use AI more fully and widely.

  • What does this mean for trust: AI and machine learning systems are propagating through industries and organizations, but many of the people affected by them are unsure of how these tools align with their values.
  • Client indicator: A global consumer goods and manufacturing company wanted guidance on how to build out responsible AI practices aligned to their values and how to embed such responsibilities and ways to measure the impact.

Let’s chat and help you prepare for the future:
1 hour – Let’s meet over lunch for a quick learning session.
1 day – Let’s get together with a few of your colleagues and explore probable futures for your business.
1 week – Let’s explore an R&D topic and a strategic plan together.

Read our full Trendlines report: Navigating the future with trust. And for deeper tech-focused content, visit TechHub.

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