Innovation is a shared responsibility. This was the message that was promulgated left, right, and center during the Assembly’s co-creation sessions at The Next Web conference. For the first time since the kick-off of the Accenture Innovation Awards 2018, the jury assembled to discuss innovation trends in their respective themes. The result is three key insights per theme that will undoubtedly shape our jury’s expectations for the winning innovations in this year’s program. This article shares these key takeaways. Enjoy!
The session related to Health saw discussions about data privacy, illness prevention and the role of Artificial Intelligence.
- We are looking for tech innovations, like private blockchain data vaults, to improve the protection of sensitive medical data. Also, there is a clear desire to improve transparency and build trust with the customer.
- Concerning illness prevention, there is a need for new days that stimulate healthy living and generate awareness for risks.
- We look towards AI to provide solutions and improve home-care, particularly regarding self-management, guidance, diagnosis and support in decision making.
During the Climate discussions, the jury paid special attention to the (social) impact of innovation, the energy sector and the team behind concepts.
- It must be stressed that many of our current ways of living and working are unsustainable. The concepts that will get the most traction in the Climate theme are those that have the intentions to improve the world. Hence it is not just about commercial goals, but also about creating social impact.
- Additionally, we look for concepts that facilitate the enormous transition of the energy sector from carbon to renewable energy. Reducing our carbon footprint is of the highest priority.
- However, it is not just about the concept. A winner should also have the right corporate culture and structure to take it to a higher level.
The jury of the Nutrition theme agreed to focus on food security, education to change behavior, and investing in smart and sustainable solutions.
- In terms of food security, the major issue in the global theatre is to provide sufficient healthy food for current and future generations. Governments and major companies will both play an important role in finding solutions.
- Education is also crucial in solving such issues. Education for farmers will increase our yields and economic opportunity, whereas education for consumers will reduce waste and balance diets.
- Future investments will focus more on solutions and innovations that are able to combine greater yields while simultaneously enhancing the sustainability of production, improving farm and labor efficiency, ensuring food security, and limiting environmental pollution.
The discussions related to Education focused on how digitalization may help drive education, its potential negative impact, and its inclusiveness as an innovative theme.
- First and foremost, with the emergence of the digital age, information has become accessible and available round-the-clock to anyone in the world. As a result, self-education — like browsing through Google Scholar — has become easier. In other words: education is open to all, and the continuous digitalization of books and academic articles helps drive education further.
- How can digitalization negatively impact education? The fact that there is so much already out there to read and study is simply overwhelming – there is an overload of information to take in. This may lead to students developing the habit of skimming: instead of reading an article in full, they spend two minutes quickly going through the article. As a result, students might become lazy and inattentive.
- Lastly, education has been characterized as inclusive. Through e-learning, anyone willing to learn —be it someone of a socio-economic disadvantaged background or someone disabled— can get the education they desire. That’s how inclusive education has become.
Living & Working
Living and Working has highlighted sustainability being taken into consideration while innovating, AI manipulating our homes/offices and the rising focus on security in tech.
- Smart homes should be built sustainably and responsibly (e.g. keeping energy efficiency in mind). But there is more; smart homes should be built with an open mind, personalized to individual customers.
- Secondly, AI was discussed as an increasingly indispensable factor in turning one’s home or office into a smart one. It was said that voice assistants and mobility as a service will be the key focuses in innovation.
- Finally, because smart (connected) innovations are omnipresent, it is also important that we learn how to protect our data from unknown third parties. Therefore, innovations in security and safety will also be highly appreciated by the Innovation Award’s jury this year.
During the Mobility session, partnerships between governments and startups were encouraged when it comes to improving current infrastructure systems. The protection of one’s Digital Identity was another theme that was stressed.
- Governments and startups or private entities should partner up because the innovation brought by startups may help the ‘traditional’, old-fashioned governments to prosper, while the government’s funding may stimulate startups to keep on innovating.
- The protection of one’s Digital Identity should be made into a universal reality. This way, travel will become more seamless and stress-free.
- Current infrastructure should be made more efficient. This means that governments should once more partner up with companies innovating new ways of travel (with less pollution and fewer traffic jams).
In the context of Security, the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, and data exchanges were the three biggest themes discussed.
- IoT is expected to evolve exponentially. Additionally, continuous advancements in Security —e. making sure that devices are secure before connecting to IoT— are also very much desired.
- Next, data exchanges between cybersecurity teams, resulting for instance in cross-infrastructure recognition platforms, will hopefully contribute to improving internet security too.
- AI is naturally also playing a big role in the evolution of security. The aim of AI should be to make scalable, affordable, and user-friendly applications that automatically secure whatever it is that the application is built for.
Finally, the Finance session has revealed many ways in which innovations within FinTech contribute to simplifying consumers’ experience with financial services. On the other hand, challenges within FinTech have also been identified.
- It comes as no surprise that payments done and received instantly through banking apps are one of FinTech’s biggest successes. Also, the fact that all FinTech apps are striving for user-friendliness has made this industry popular worldwide.
- With blockchain being a decentralized, secured record of transactions, this has both its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, blockchain’s decentralized nature is a benefit, since nobody can modify the transaction data that has taken place. However, it becomes a problem when certain regulations on this topic are implemented. In other words, with blockchain being invented only 10 years ago, it lacks control; it is not accustomed to control.
- Lastly, key challenges to be tackled include current trust issues with machine learning and robotic advice in the area of finance. Humans must simply get comfortable with more frequent interaction with machines.
What are we waiting for? The Accenture Innovation Awards 2018 jury has made it clear that the ongoing technological revolution must be facilitated through a collaborative effort (i.e. governments partnering with startups), utilizing the modern means available (e.g. AI, blockchain, and IoT). Connecting creative people with disruptive ideas in a stimulating ecosystem such as that of Accenture’s Innovation Awards will result in the acceleration of the digital age.