Quantum computing part of the next set of tech companies keen on harnessing. Source: Facebook / IBM Research

Quantum computing part of the next set of tech companies keen on harnessing. Source: Facebook / IBM Research

How businesses can prepare to harness the DARQ stack

TECHNOLOGY is constantly evolving. What was bleeding-edge yesterday is common today.

Take social listening for example. A couple of years ago, companies were fascinated by the possibility of “listening” to everything on the internet and “decoding” what it meant for their brand. Today, aspects of social listening such as sentiment analysis and brand monitoring, are part of even the most simple social media management toolkit.

Now, new technologies such as cloud, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), and some of the others have come of age and matured.

They’ve reached a phase where they’re powerful, have potential, and are capable of infinite possibilities — although enterprises are yet to explore specific use cases.

According to the 2019 edition of Accenture’s Technology Vision, businesses should focus their energies on harnessing four key technologies that it has bundled together in a stack called DARQ.

“Future-minded leaders know that they will need not only every digital tool in their current arsenal to succeed, they’ll also need new ones. The next set of technologies every company will need to master? Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Extended Reality (XR) and Quantum Computing,” said the report.

“In other words, “DARQ” matters.”

Now, the first thought that comes to mind when the DARQ stack is mentioned is this: How is this different from what companies have been doing already?

Well, Accenture says that business leaders need to shift how they think about these four technologies.

Individually, each of these four technologies represent opportunities for businesses to differentiate their products and services. Collectively, the company’s analysts believe that they will open unimagined new pathways into the future.

“When sets of technologies like these converge over a short period of time, they can spark a step change, letting businesses reimagine entire industries. DARQ will be the next set to do this, but not the first.”

Now, investing in digital is a core expectation of being in business, and ambitious companies are looking at DARQ technologies for the next source of differentiation and disruption.

As these technologies reach maturity and converge, the company sees them allowing businesses to expand upon their digital capabilities to build intelligent and highly customized, in-the-moment experiences that help shape the lives of their customers, business partners, and employees.

Here’s exactly how to prepare to go DARQ

Accenture’s new report foresees DARQ enabling the post-digital era of business and technology, and advises those looking to lead in that era to start now.

Obviously, each company builds digital capabilities differently. Some work through prototypes and launch pilot projects, others acquire companies and teams with mature products in a particular space.

Whatever method a company chooses, there’s a reward for those that can explore possibilities and investments with strategic focus—catapulting themselves as leaders in a brand-new competitive landscape.

The report from Accenture provides four steps for companies looking to explore the DARQ technology stack:

# 1 | Understand if your digital foundation is ready for DARQ

Most organizations are working on building and developing their organization’s digital capabilities. Accenture suggests that they prioritize their ongoing digital transformation efforts before they move ahead with their DARQ projects.

Since a lot of the lessons from previous technology adoption cycles are valid and applicable to the DARQ stage, it’s a good idea to capture those lessons and use the insights from those when discussing DARQ projects.

Doing so will help build roadmaps for the growth of DARQ technologies, and ultimately determine the optimal time to dive into each of the four technologies in the DARQ stack.

# 2 | Evaluate DARQ technologies relevant to their individual maturity

When evaluating DARQ, it’s important to decide whether you will buy or build your own AI tools, taking AI training and security requirements into account.

Accenture suggests exploring different XR use cases in the enterprise. Depending on how you expect to use XR throughout your business will help understand whether you should begin building an in-house team to design XR experiences, or establish vendor contracts.

The same is true for DLT. Organizations need to spend time understanding how DLT can really benefit their business before they can pivot internally and decide whether they can deliver on the project by themselves or find partners to help achieve with the goals of the project.

Finally, in terms of quantum computing, given that it’s a new technology, DARQ specialists suggest establishing relationships with leading quantum cloud vendors to explore new quantum computing capabilities as they are made available.

# 3 | Prepare to add DARQ skills to your workforce

Approach hiring, training, and employee retention with DARQ in mind, advises Accenture.

As the technologies become more pervasive, expertise will be increasingly in demand. Further, recruiting DARQ talent is more competitive, so it is important to consider creating training programs to reskill current employees and incentivizing them to stay.

This is especially important as businesses stop looking to use the technologies individually, and make them work together as a collective stack.

# 4 | DARQ will make you a leader, use it to shape your industry

According to the report, DARQ technologies have the potential to transform whole industries from the ground up.

Therefore, organizations must start forward-looking programs dedicated to scenario planning.

Business leaders might also benefit from asking the team to explore different possible futures for the organization, driven by the industry-wide impact of DARQ.

Finally, keeping the power of DARQ in mind, it is important that pioneers of the DARQ stack prepare to steer the industry toward the company’s preferred future.

In order to do this, they must evaluate each combination, taking into account what can be implemented today and what capabilities they will enable as they mature.

At the end of the day, enterprises must realize that they’re not re-inventing the wheel. All that they’re doing is making sure that companies know which technologies to focus on and understand the reality that those four technologies, when put together, can achieve much more than what any one of them can — by itself.