Global technology trends are now pointing towards a “We Economy”, according to business consulting firm Accentutre, helped by the Internet of Things.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2015 says “pioneering” enterprises are tapping into a broad array of other digital businesses, digital customers and digital devices [like IoT devices] at the edge of their networks to create new digital “ecosystems”.

Accenture Tech Vision evolution
Four out of five respondents believed that industry boundaries will “dramatically blur” as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems. Image credit: Accenture

These companies see great potential to make a difference - and a profit - by operating as ecosystems and not just as individual corporate entities, driving the emergence of the We Economy.

Accenture said the shift to the We Economy was shown in a global survey of more than 2,000 IT and business executives, which formed part of its Technology Vision 2015 report. The survey found that four out of five respondents believed that in the future industry boundaries will “dramatically blur” as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.

While 60 percent of those surveyed said they plan to engage new partners within their respective industries, 40 percent said they plan to leverage digital partners outside their industry, and 48 percent said they plan to “engage digital technology platform leaders”.

“In last year’s Technology Vision report we noted how large enterprises were reasserting leadership in their markets by adopting digital to drive their processes more effectively and transform how they go to market, collaborate with partners, engage with customers and manage transactions,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture. “Now that digital has become part of the fabric of their operating DNA, they are stretching their boundaries to leverage a broader ecosystem of digital businesses as they shape the next generation of their products, services and business models to effect change on a much broader scale.”

One example, said Accenture, is Home Depot, which is working with manufacturers to ensure that all of the connected home products it sells are compatible with the Wink connected home system — thereby creating its own connected home ecosystem and developing potential new services and unique experiences for Wink customers.

Philips is taking a similar approach, teaming with Salesforce to build a platform to reshape and optimise the way healthcare is delivered. The envisioned platform will create an ecosystem of developers building healthcare applications to enable collaboration and workflow between doctors and patients across the entire spectrum of care. The ecosystem to achieve these improved outcomes is vast, including electronic medical records as well as diagnostic and treatment information obtained through Philips’ imaging equipment, monitoring equipment, and personal devices and technologies.

“Rather than simply focusing internally on improving their own operations, successful companies are looking externally to create and become part of digital ecosystems,” said Daugherty. “They’re beginning to see the importance of selling not just products and services, but outcomes — and that requires weaving their businesses into the broader digital fabric that extends to customers, partners, employees and industries.”