Point of View

Learn how Accenture’s clients are actively exploring applied intelligence for innovation

April 3, 2020

During Accenture’s recent Tech Symposium event, it presented its 2020 Tech Vision and gave a platform to its most innovative clients to share best practices from their journeys to digital transformation. HFS observed a distinct theme running through most of the sessions: using data as an enterprise asset and basing technology initiatives around the best use of data. What we took away from the event is the understanding that Accenture’s Applied Intelligence practice, which brings together analytics, automation, and AI, is going to be instrumental in all its client engagements: from supporting finance and accounting business process services clients to undertaking cloud migration and building IoT platforms. Data is a unifier, and enterprises need to bake data strategy into all aspects of their business operations, a lesson that many Accenture clients shared at its Atlanta event.

 

All businesses need to become digital natives, says Accenture

 

“You need to be good at every type of technology today…it’s not about us versus them. We all need to be digital natives,” stated Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive, Technology & Chief Technology Officer, Accenture. Paul’s succinct observation reveals a fundamental truth—there is no industry and no company that can claim that it is not impacted by technology today, and every enterprise must proactively explore the role of emerging technologies to stay in business. There are three goals:

 

  1. Optimizing operations using digital technologies: Embedding change agent technologies such as analytics and automation into day-to-day operations to improve overall business performance.
  2. Building the new digital core: Modernizing enterprise operations with the shift to modern and agile core functional platforms for key business functions such as finance and accounting and sales.
  3. Innovating for growth: Facilitating the development of new digital products and services to capitalize on changing customer preferences.

 

Accenture’s clients are prioritizing data initiatives to start the transition

 

One of our recent research studies asked enterprises what drives their viewpoints on business strategy, and we found that data and predictive analytics are at the heart of the drivers for change in business operations (see Exhibit 1). Businesses also want to create new and personalized experiences for their customers and, ultimately, survive the structural changes that digital disruptors cause in many of their industries. 

 

Exhibit 1: Data explosion, digital disruption, and customer experience are the three most important drivers impacting business operations

 

We asked 460 senior executives across all industries the top drivers impacting business strategy

 

  

Sample size: 460 enterprise customers

Source: HFS Research with Accenture, 2019

 

 

At the Accenture Tech Symposium, we saw this prioritization around data and predictive analytics come to life through multiple client stories:

 

  • Cruising toward mass personalization: A major cruise line is working with Accenture to design an all-encompassing IoT platform that will help the company drive customer experiences and improved operations. The Chief Innovation Officer at the company shared his insights about the IoT initiative, data prioritization, and analysis, “We are designing for intelligence. Our platform is designed to be intelligence-driven, and we’re not developing a BI [business intelligence] strategy after the fact. Intelligence is fundamentally the fuel of IoT itself and the interaction.” The ambitious cruise line is working with Accenture to create what it calls “personalization at scale” for its guests.

 

  • On track for autonomous transportation: The VP IT and CIO at a large American railway detailed the company’s digital initiatives over the last few years. The company’s biggest successes revolved around predictive analytics based on locomotive and track sensor data. Working with over 200 sensors’ worth of streaming data, the railway company has implemented multiple analytics use cases, including predictive maintenance on locomotives and analyzing track data to predict which sections of track to replace based on transportation patterns and tonnage. Commenting on the company’s cloud journey, the VP shared how the ultimate goal for moving to the cloud is around getting data faster, “Without a doubt, we are going to be [operating in the] cloud in the future. We use it now, and that is the direction the tech is going. To me, it’s really about getting the data and information to make decisions at the speed they need to be made that is the biggest constraint.”

 

  • Analyzing the cost of care: The VP of Enterprise Data and Analytics at one of the United States’ largest healthcare payer companies stated that data is the foundation of any AI enablement in business. His team’s work with Accenture has centered around creating a data and analytics platform that can serve the needs of multiple areas within the company, rather than trying to do small projects in siloed departments. Already, the healthcare firm has improved the way it investigates fraud, waste, and abuse, reducing claims leakage by a significant amount in an issue that costs billions each year. The VP links his technology initiatives to business outcomes to get buy-in, explaining, “The good thing is, everything you do matters. Even in discussing our cloud journey with stakeholders, we don’t say cloud is the next evolution, and thus we want to move. We explain how it enables x% of lift to our operating gain through our predictive analytics and data models, and hence we want to move.”

 

The Bottom Line: Enterprise clients at Accenture’s recent event are cognizant of the importance of data strategies that will no doubt inform their future investments in technology and services.

 

Enterprises’ data and analytics teams and, subsequently, their partners’ analytics businesses are already at the heart of the change for practically achieving digital transformation goals. While data, analytics, and AI did dominate the client discussions along with allied change agent technologies such as cloud and IoT, we also heard from clients interested in more blue-sky thinking. Accenture organized an “innovation rumble” with the help of two teams from its Atlanta Innovation Hub and a hotel chain client that was interested in hearing innovative ideas. The conference audience voted on which part of the guest experience could be most enhanced, and the teams did a 24-hour turnaround of prototypes. The hotel chain selected the best idea to explore for further development in conjunction with Accenture. The innovation rumble proved two things: one, Accenture is making great investments in talent in cities like Atlanta to be able to pull off something like this in 24 hours, and, two, in many cases, technology is not the barrier to innovation, rather it is aligning objectives and finding the right problems that take the longest time!

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