Philippe Trouchaud (PwC): “Without use cases, technology is worthless”

A few days ago, PwC France and Maghreb inaugurated the Tech Lab, an immersive and experimental space where customers and collaborators can learn about the most advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, NFTs, Web3, virtual reality or even the Metaverse.

For PwC, besides realizing its potential, it is above all an opportunity to allay some fears “Employees feel threatened by new technologies”, notes Philippe Trouchaud, Chief Technology & Products Officer of PwC France and Maghreb. In this context, the Tech Lab of the British consulting and auditing specialist with 6,400 employees in France has set itself the goal of breaking down the barriers to the use of innovative technologies in companies around specific use cases.

On the occasion of this inauguration Digital discussed with Philippe Trouchaud the technological trends that will shape the company of tomorrow.

DIGITAL – After an Experience Center in 2019 near Saint-Lazare train station, open a Tech Lab on your premises in Neuilly-sur-Seine to better address your customers’ technological problems. What needs does this new test laboratory meet?

PHILIPPE TROUCHAUD – Given our customers’ appetite for technology, we need to provide a verifiable experience. The idea is to be able to show use cases and have conversations. In the technological world, you can no longer settle for a PowerPoint to explain your vision of things. It takes a certain humility, because in the case of the metaverse, for example, you can see that the technology is not yet fully developed. It is therefore necessary to recognize the limitations of this type of technology.

Without use cases, the technology is worthless. What we do with it creates value or not. The biggest challenge is also acclimatizing all our employees and overcoming their fear of technology. As a reminder, 40% of employees believe their jobs will disappear because of technology. They need support in adopting technology to transform their profession. We cannot afford to leave 40% of the population on the side of the road because they have not been educated. So the challenge is to show our customers use cases of the technology and increase the skills of our employees.

Isn’t it sometimes difficult to calm the euphoria of certain business leaders who are very excited about new technologies in the Web3 and the metaverse that are not necessarily at a very advanced stage?

In the specific case of the metaverse, if you take a marketing manager who dives into certain experiences of the metaverse, he’s going to have clicks, he’s going to project what he could do for his clients. If you see some virtual stores in the metaverse, they are not perfect, but we can see that it will still fundamentally change the customer experience compared to Web 2.0, resulting in efficiencies.

However, there are limits that one must be aware of. The greats of technology are in a marketing logic, they keep harping. The Metaverse is not a needs market, you have to create the need. After a while, there’s a reality principle: we’re not going to live in the metaverse. You have to look at what technology can do today and recognize its limits.

Which of the technologies that are gaining ground in companies do you think has the greatest potential? The one that will really upset the professional world?

The most immediate is artificial intelligence (AI). We find it in all areas of activity. It’s a technology that’s becoming more convenient and costs a lot less than it did a few years ago. In addition, it is easily accessible. You don’t need an army of developers to run an AI engine. We will find a lot of AI in industry in particular.

The second technology that will change things is the Metaverse, especially for the customer experience, the employee experience, the maintenance processes… But for now we still have problems with the computing power and capacity. There are still experiments in the metaverse where the server is placed on its back with a backpack rack. But computing power will increase, we will have 5G networks, technology will be miniaturized… Today the experience is still painful. You’re not going to keep the helmet on for two hours.

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