Today, changes are coming at us faster than ever. But with technology that adapts itself to us, we are the ones in control.

There is no doubt that technology is impacting financial services in unprecedented ways. Banks, capital markets and insurers alike find themselves confronted from all directions by innovations in FinTech and InsurTech, and by entirely new customer expectations.

To cut through the noise, Accenture conducts an annual global survey among business and IT executives to pinpoint the emerging IT developments that are likely to have the greatest impact on financial services institutions and other organizations in the near future. For the Technology Vision 2017 Survey, we queried 5,400 business and IT executives, including 589 respondents from the banking industry, and 563 respondents from the insurance industry.

In this series, I will share the insights gained from this year’s survey.

Empowering people is the path to leadership

Today’s digital revolution is leading us to an age of human empowerment. And the first step to empowering people—customers and employees—is providing technology that works with them by:

  • Adapting technology to people, and putting an end to technology tools that require people to adapt to them.
  • Aligning goals to people’s goals, and becoming a true partner by focusing on the goals that people have for themselves.
  • Using a “People First” approach to business and technology, and truly enabling people by contributing to their growth at the individual and the societal level. 

The People First approach to business and technology

Rethinking business models and relationships

Changing the relationship with people in today’s digital age means changing the relationship with technology, and that technology is not what it was just a few years ago. The digital tools we use today are:

  • Increasingly interactive, with touch displays, mixed reality and natural language processing.
  • Capable of learning, with contextual analysis, image recognition and deep learning algorithms.
  • Adaptable, with technology that constantly aligns itself to people, not the other way around.

To become true partners and empower people with technology, financial services institutions also need to rethink their business models, and their relationships with both customers and employees. 

  • For banks, now is not the time to wait and see what happens. Instead, banks can direct today’s technology innovations to shape the industry, their workforce and partnerships, and deepen the relationships with their customers.
  • In insurance, innovation at an increasingly rapid pace is becoming necessary just to keep a competitive edge. But the biggest innovations in insurance over the next few years will not come from the technology tools themselves, but from how they are designed with customers, agents, employees and other human partners in mind. 

Technology holds the key to shaping the world around us. It’s also giving financial services institutions an opportunity to weave themselves into the new digital society. As technology aligns to what we want, it delivers unprecedented opportunities to shape our lives, our industries and our society. 

But there will be challenges along the way. For people to value these new partnerships, financial services institutions need to work to gain and keep trust at every interaction—and putting the power in the hands of customers and employees is the best way to do it. 

Accenture believes that true competitive advantage will rest on a combination of people and technology.

Beginning with my next post, I will take a closer look at the five trends we have identified for this year’s Technology Vision, with an emphasis on how financial services leaders are using technology to empower people.

To learn more, access the Technology Vision 2017 report, as well as the Technology Vision for Insurance 2017 and Banking Technology Vision 2017 reports.