Innovation drives growth. Companies that can seize the promise of innovation gain a competitive advantage—while those that don't risk falling behind.
The hype around new technology can be misleading. It’s not always clear what impact new technology can truly have on your organization. To become more agile, leaders need to look past the hype to uncover the realities of innovation.
In a recent episode of EY’s Think Ecosystem podcast, host Paul Webb, EY global alliance leader for ServiceNow, invited leaders from EY and ServiceNow to discuss innovation and how to operationalize it.
When you’re caught up in the excitement and possibilities of new technology, it can be hard to separate the buzz from the benefits. But a few innovations stand out as potential game changers that will transform the way companies work in the future.
Recent developments in generative AI have accelerated the hype around this capability. But there is often a gap between the perception of its potential and the reality of its current state.
According to ServiceNow Chief Information Officer Dave Wright, this of-the-moment technology is poised to “fundamentally change the way knowledge gets consumed.” Businesses may have terabytes of data that can inform AI, giving it the potential to surface this information in a way that’s easy to access and understand. This can enable people to gain knowledge and insights without sorting through data and documents.
However, people often overestimate the abilities of generative AI. It can easily perform tasks such as creating summaries, agenda items, and structures. But it isn’t yet great at answering questions. In fact, it can “hallucinate” by providing blatantly inaccurate information as facts.
Generative AI could affect many different industries and fields of play. The technology has limitations, but it’s changing rapidly. The improvement in accuracy in the models that came out in recent weeks—compared to those that came out 100 days ago—is remarkable.
Amy Lokey, senior vice president of product experience at ServiceNow, adds that businesses should orient their use of AI in relation to their desired outcomes. “Generative AI is not an end in itself,” she says. “It’s a faster means to an end. What is the distinct value that we offer, and how can generative AI accelerate those pathways?”
Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to provide an omnichannel experience as we move through the world, Webb says. By allowing multiple sensory inputs, AR gives users the ability to speak and gesture rather than typing commands using a keyboard or touch screen.
Across different types of devices, AR can allow users to experience technology using the best interface for them in that moment, Lokey adds. This will create different ways of engaging for people with different abilities and preferences, enabling the right device at the right moment for how each person wants to engage.
Another innovation that has received a great deal of attention is quantum computing. A quantum computer would use quantum mechanics and specialized hardware to solve problems vastly more quickly than traditional computers.
While there are still some physics problems that need to be solved before actual quantum computers become a reality, this technology could transform our lives and the ways we do business.
Experts expect quantum computing to have a huge impact on cryptography in particular. “Once quantum’s mainstream, you can kiss everything you know about security goodbye,” Wright shares. If quantum computing becomes a reality within the next few years, after decades of continued research, it will have a substantial ripple effect on business areas such as compliance.
The takeaway? Businesses should be preparing now for the implications of this technology, thinking through what actions they might need to take to get the benefits without exposing themselves to avoidable risks.
How can businesses actually move forward with leading-edge technologies? EY and ServiceNow leaders suggest three focus areas:
The experience: Wright and Lokey agree that user experience is key to adoption. It’s not enough to replicate existing processes in a digital format—you have to create an experience that’s better than what you had before. When innovation can improve the experience of doing work, that’s when you can boost productivity, adoption, and engagement.
Continued testing: It’s not about transforming once. In today’s world, we’re constantly changing. These changes have to be applied to the whole company, not just one business function. It’s important to keep testing new technologies and experimenting to discover what will work in your organization.
Prioritized outcomes: Wright advises leaders to define their desired outcomes before implementing a new technology. “How can you take these innovations and use them to deliver the results you want? If you start with the outcome, you can apply the best technology to achieve it,” he says.
Find out more about how ServiceNow and EY are working together to push the reality curve of innovation.
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