Focusing on the growth of AI to thrive in a changing world

There is a new set of questions, skills and conversations being added to the mix for governors and leaders of organisations.

Andy Symons, the financial services leader for Accenture, a global professional services and consulting company in New Zealand, was guest speaker at this week’s annual meeting of the Otago-Southland branch of the Institute of Directors in Dunedin.

The pace of change being driven by technology and its availability had been increasing a lot over the past five to 10 years but the latest advances in artificial intelligence and generative AI were not just an incremental change but a big step. That was going to enable organisations to "do a lot of things and a lot of things differently", provided it was used responsibly, Mr Symons said.

Accenture was working with organisations to help them reinvent to be relevant to the future. It was not about tacking generative AI on to what was already being done but about taking "a couple of steps back" and looking at how to approach the future with the capability of some of those emerging technologies.

Much thinking and conversations happened at board and leadership level and a lot of success of execution depended on the board and leadership creating the right cultural environment for that to happen, he said.

Accenture was very much a technology and transformation-focused company which worked with organisations and governments around the world.

It was about thinking about that rapidly-evolving technology and possibilities it brought to the table and how it got applied to solving the big issues in New Zealand, and leveraging it to make sure all organisations were future-fit and prepared for what was coming.

One of Accenture’s approaches was purpose-led transformation; it was a big believer in gaining the deep understanding of the purpose of an organisation before heading into transformation. Too many organisations recognised the need to transform "without a clear north star".

Transformation and a real think about how they operated would be the thing that helped them move forward in a new environment that contained all these new market pressures, he said.

And while organisations were focused on that changing world, they also needed to understand that customers continued to expect increasing levels of services from New Zealand’s brand.

Recent Accenture research found 71% of New Zealanders felt brands were "not making good" on their brand promise in the market. They had to be very careful to not stop listening to customers around what they wanted and needed.


—  Scott Mason is the new chairman of the Otago Southland branch of the Institute of Directors, replacing Trish Oakley.

Mr Mason already serves on IoDs national council and is active in the Dunedin community, particularly in the small and medium-sized enterprises, startup and the tech sector space.