Human-centric technology vision changes IT procurement

Accenture’s 2024 Technology vision report has introduced a term to the CIO vocabulary – human-centric technologies. These are artificial intelligence-based systems, which are built in a way that makes them easier to interact with and can be seamlessly embedded across every aspect of people’s lives.

The report’s authors stated: “We are moving toward a world where the technology around us will become more omni-present, yet also more invisible.”

“As AI, spatial computing and body-sensing technologies evolve to a point where tech appears to imitate human capabilities and seem invisible, what you’ll see left are the people – empowered with new capabilities to accomplish things they once considered impossible,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture.

The report was unveiled during the week of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

In a fireside chat with Daugherty at CES, Will Beery, CIO of Mars Snacking, was asked about the company’s strategy for human-centric technology. Berry said the company began with digital twins in manufacturing and IoT sensors prior to the pandemic.

“We’re north of 100 digital twins globally across all sorts of products. We’ve got Skittles, cocoa processing and spray techniques for M&Ms; we’ve got gum sheeting for Wrigley gum products. It’s really just taken off,” said Beery.

From an AI perspective, he said the company has deployed autonomous-guided vehicles and robots into warehouses and factories that help to offset labour challenges: “We’re also putting in a manufacturing data platform on our internal systems, which are old and all over the place, because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do generative AI.”

Significantly, Beery said the company’s CEO Andrew Clark also attended CES. “CEOs are all of a sudden having to embrace digital,” Beery added. “That’s what Andrew and I do. Our whole relationship is about how digital transforms the Mars Snacking brand so that it’s a better consumer proposition.”

Among the many challenges a CIO and tech team need to consider when assessing the tech to power human-centric technology is what exactly they should be trying to specify and what they need to procure.

When asked about how IT leaders buy this type of technology, Adam Burden, global lead for innovation at Accenture, said: “The buyer criteria is evolving. There’ll be an expectation that technology procured is able to adjust itself according to the user that it is interfacing with. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach anymore, but rather meeting you at the level where your people are.”

There will clearly be different types of users, in terms of their level of expertise, but Burden said that the technology should be able to reorganise itself to interface with any user in the most productive and constructive way possible. Such criteria may well feature in the request for proposal documents sent out to companies during a tender process.

Michael Biltz, managing director of Accenture Technology Vision and Accenture Labs, believes human-centric technology will also have a huge benefit internally, within IT operations. He said: “A computer tech or an IT specialist is going to be using a lot of these tools as a way to improve their own productivity by making their job easier.”


Leave a Comment