Occasionally, you absorb a number and its rolls around in your head continually. For instance, experts say it takes the average person between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep. Forgive me I am intrigued by statistical trivia.

By Kgomotso Lebele, technology lead for Accenture in Africa

The following percentage though is not trivial at all and should wake you up. The latest edition of the Accenture Technology Vision report has found that 98% of executives we surveyed believe continuous advances in technology are becoming more reliable than economic, political, or social trends in informing their organization’s long-term strategy.

That is simultaneously a worrying and encouraging finding. Concerning, because it articulates the risk and uncertainty of the global environment, one within which business needs to operate; and positive because it demonstrates the accelerating power, influence, and importance of technology within organisations.

Our annual report is a systematic review across the entire enterprise landscape to identify emerging technology trends that will have the greatest impact on companies, government agencies, and other organizations in the coming years.

To get on the new tech speed-wagon, one must get one’s head around a concept called the Metaverse Continuum. And no, it is not the latest offering in the Matrix franchise.

It is a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities, and business models poised to revolutionize life and enterprise in the next decade. This continuum is bringing the next major wave of digital change to enterprises, and leaders need to start making rapid progress in how they think about their business.

Soon, they will be at the intersection of new and converging worlds, from building new physical and virtual realities to providing services in environments created by others. People will actively live in and jump between these worlds.

But while the potential of this new paradigm is massive, we are also operating in a new landscape where there are not yet rules or expectations and questions are being raised all the time.

For instance, how will companies conduct business and sell products, and how will consumers buy them in these new worlds? How will human interaction unfold in the metaverse, and how will that reshape what we look for outside of it? What does the world of work look like when organizations become more distributed or autonomous? How do we manage a supply chain that cuts through different physical worlds where some cities are smart, and some are not?

Enterprises will inevitably find themselves on the front lines of establishing trust and safety and defining the human experience in these new places.

Trust will be paramount to adoption of the new experiences’ that leaders are beginning to build.

Considerations and concerns already held today around privacy, bias, fairness, and human impact are becoming far more acute as the line between people’s physical and digital lives further blurs.

Enterprises that wish to lead in this space will shoulder the mantle of building a “Responsible Metaverse,” and the actions and choices they make today will set the standards for all that follow.

It leaves companies at a critical moment to decide their path forward. Accenture believes there are key trends emerging in the tech space which will go some way to guiding a better understanding of the Metaverse.

Firstly, the internet is quickly being reimagined as the Metaverse is putting users squarely in that space; control, customization, and automation are being enmeshed into the world around us, making the physical as programmable as the digital.

We stand at a unique precipice in time. Not because there are new technologies to master, but that competing in this next decade will require something more than just increasing technology and innovation skills. It will require a truly competitive vision – both for what these future worlds will look like and what your enterprise will need to become to succeed in them.

Technology points us in the right direction, but the rest is up to you.