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Accenture Brings Intelligent Automation to Apps and Testing
One of the frustrations that HfS all too often encounters when discussing the journey toward the As-a-Service Economy is that providers tend to try to retro-fit innovations like intelligent automation and plug-and-play digital services into old organizational models. Thus, organizations might get incidental efficiency gains and cost savings, but the necessary transformation is being pushed to the sidelines. What usually is lacking is a holistic approach to connect and integrate disparate sets of initiatives aimed at advancing toward the As-a-Service Economy. HfS had the opportunity to discuss many of these issues with executives from Accenture at its new Liquid Studio in Silicon Valley.
Under the umbrella term “liquid,” Accenture has built out a broad set of initiatives to help clients in their journeys to embrace the ideals of the As-a-Service Economy. Encompassing Liquid Architecture, Applications, Workforce and now Delivery Centers, Accenture is starting to aggregate these initiatives and programs under the notion of Liquid Sourcing. A new style of “Liquid” delivery centers focused on allowing clients and prospects to experience technology innovations reimagined by Design Thinking methodologies.
However, what caught our eye was more specific to the narrow notion of Intelligent Automation: Accenture’s myWizard platform that is aiming to innovate application services is much more than “just” a virtual agent. It comprises a broad set of building blocks that can be leveraged in a similar way we got used to thinking about PaaS platforms like IBM’s Bluemix that allows clients to build applications in a plug-and-play studio approach without the need for comprehensive coding. The myWizard platform has enhanced those building blocks by virtual agents that interact with developers and service desk agents. Four of the six virtual agents currently deployed include:
- Intelligent Data Scientist: Virtual agent that helps identify data patterns and mines program information to provide IT and business users with the ability to make more insight-based decisions
- Virtual Testing Savant Providing advice to human testers on a wide-range of judgement-based tasks, such as test planning, test coverage, prioritization and even staffing. It provides test artifacts for reuse and solutions based on past fixes, helping testers spend less time preparing and fixing and more time fine-tuning applications to improve business performance
- Virtual Scrum Master: Virtual agent monitors numerous aspects of Agile development projects such as the progress of sprints
- Virtual Project Manager: Leveraging project management best practices, virtual project manager helps project teams to plan, execute and manage risks throughout project management life cycle.
Thus far, we have only seen moderate activity in applying Intelligent Automation to application development, management and testing. If Accenture can demonstrate robust levels of delivery for its myWizard platform, then it would considerably change and accelerate the dynamics of Intelligent Automation. However. Accenture acknowledges that myWizard is not productized as yet and is currently being leveraged internally for client service delivery. At the same time, executives suggested it takes 6 to 8 months to really understand business processes and get to expanding the capabilities to some levels of self-remediation. But herein also lies the crucial aspect of advancing the journey toward the As-a-Service Economy: overcoming the organizational boundaries and linking business processes with broader IT delivery.
Accenture’s myWizard platform is a bold vision to get to a more holistic notion of Intelligent Automation and to drive automation toward application development, management and application testing. While Accenture has relationships with and continues to build experience with IPsoft’s Amelia, IBM’s Watson as well as other approaches; they are currently exploring how this platform will be taken to market alongside them. More clarity around the commercial models—in particular, the access to and the leverage of customers data—is still to come as Accenture continues to rotate to new IT services. Accenture suggests it is always leading with the business case with a focus on end-to-end industry solutions. Yet, the business case hinges on the issue that we have called out.
Beyond the specifics of myWizard, the notion of a liquid workforce extended by crowdsourcing touches upon the crucial aspect for advancing the journey toward the As-a-Service Economy: It has to start with a change in mindset, not a change in technology. We will be elaborating on these issues within the context of a Blueprint on Intelligent Automation that HfS has just launched. It tries to assess how providers are helping clients advancing on their transformation journey across traditional organizational boundaries. myWizard will be strong reference point for these capabilities.