Accenture and Mastercard: Bridging Divides

Overview In a CES® 2021 keynote, the CEOs of Accenture and Mastercard looked ahead ten years to talk about the tech trends they expect to see, and how tech can help companies and society bridge gaps and divides.

Many have noted how technology has been a gamechanger in the past year, presenting digital health solutions, keeping the world connected, helping people learn and work from home.

“Pre-COVID-19, I’d be on lots of panels where we were still discussing the value of technology, and literally overnight, technology became a lifeline,” said Accenture CEO Julie Sweet in a CES® 2021 keynote conversation with Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach, interviewed by LinkedIn News Editor-in-Chief Daniel Roth.

At this inflection point in history, the industry has proven the power of technology. More than that, however, the past year has highlighted technology divides and has shown ways in which these divides can be addressed.


Digital Adoption Setting Leaders Apart

A year before the pandemic, Accenture looked at 8000 companies across ten industries, measuring them by digital adoption, breadth and depth, leadership and culture.

Sweet notes that digital leaders have the competitive advantage — especially now as digital transformation has only been accelerated. For those not yet on board with digital trends, Sweet says, “It’s the courage to do compressed disruption of your own business. You can help companies leapfrog, but you have to have that mindset.”

The way to help close the gap, Miebach added, is for leaders across industries to help each other. He highlighted an example of payment companies stepping forward to enable and help small businesses to start in ecommerce and run their businesses.

“If we have a broader ecosystem in mind, then I think we have a chance that the chasm doesn’t open up any further,” he said.


Closing the Opportunity Divide

From the consumer aspect, the gap between digital-adoption leaders and those who may be behind the digitization curve is also a question of opportunity.

While many have been able to take advantage of working from home and using digital remote tools, including telehealth solutions, many are not given the choice.

“If you can’t participate, there’s no choice for you,” Miebach said. “So how do we enable that choice?”

Miebach further noted that, in the financial industry, solutions for financial inclusion — such as portable benefits that enable gig workers change jobs more easily — will help create a digital economy that works for everyone and further closes gaps like the opportunity divide.


Embracing Diversity and New Talent

Gender and race equality has also been top of mind for organizations around the world. For both Accenture and Mastercard, a focus on a diverse and inclusive workforce can build stronger professional teams while helping to close the employment and skills gap.

“Here in the U.S., a third of Black families do not have access to the internet,” Sweet said. “The implications of that for employment and education are enormous.”

Miebach added that the path forward is for businesses to consider their operations and make sure they are providing the solutions that are put in the hands of diverse audiences as a bridge across the gender-and-race digital divide.


Sweet and Miebach are both excited about tech developments in 5G, cloud computing and more, as well as the potential these technologies hold for transforming businesses. Looking forward, it will be these technologies that help businesses reach worldwide consumers, and that close the digital and tech divides in society.

Watch the Future Reimagined Keynote

From CES 2021, hear from some of the industry’s biggest thinkers as they discuss what trends we can expect to see in the next 10 years and what excites them about tech's future.

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