“Every company is a technology company.” That combined description and imperative from Accenture Group Chief Executive—Technology and CTO Paul Daugherty made clear how the company sees its clients now and entering the post-digital future. All companies will need the technological savvy and innovative culture of digital natives while pivoting from pilots to execution. In simple terms, digital is everywhere, so every company must be able to execute digitally, including developing a digital core, optimizing operations and investing in new technology-driven offerings. For Accenture, maturation as a technology company has resulted in an increase in technology-centric headcount, paired with an emphasis on platforms and tools (see below analysis on myNav, myWizard and myConcerto). A new recently announced growth model has shifted former Accenture Technology leader for North America, Annette Rippert, to be the new Group Chief Executive leading the combined Strategy and Consulting services, further cementing Accenture’s role in moving its clients toward a future where “every company is a technology company.” Building on the technology mantra, Accenture can now bring leadership deeply rooted in emerging technologies applied at scale to its strategy, supply chain & operations and talent & organization consulting clients. Based on Rippert’s long-standing emphasis on Accenture’s relationships with technology partners, clients can expect ecosystems and alliances will factor substantially into the company’s strategic advice as the post-digital future nears.
Following Daugherty’s presentation, Accenture CIO Penelope Prett emphasized the role cloud continues to play in Accenture’s own digital journey, even describing cloud as “mandatory to capitalize on innovation.” Prett noted that roughly 95% of Accenture’s applications reside in the cloud, with adoption of some legacy architectures still a challenge. Among the lessons Accenture has drawn from its own experience are the need to consider the pace of business change and the need to account and plan for interoperability and long-term simplifications. Echoing Daugherty, this imperative to move to cloud at scale and to innovate plays well into Accenture’s overall go-to-market strategy around technology enablement.
Overall, Accenture’s belief that “Every company is a technology company” raises questions about how the company will engage with its clients going forward. Accenture has excelled at developing talent with specializations and exceptional, often industry-specific skills. As the company shifts toward assembling teams with diverse talents and skills and takes those teams to scale, how prepared is Accenture’s middle management leadership? What resources have they dedicated to training the military equivalent of majors and lieutenant colonels? Prett spoke of teams assembling within hours, rather than weeks, which provides a tremendous boost to productivity, provided leadership can keep up.
In addition, Accenture’s evolving approach to industries will come under pressure from two forces. Clients, according to Accenture and its peers, increasingly look beyond their own industries for best practices, recognizing that emerging technology solutions typically start with horizontal capabilities applied within an industry and business context. Internally, Accenture must continue to share broad, industry-agnostic best practices across the entire company, even as it develops a common language, separate from industry. Secondly, ecosystem partners such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) and Amazon Web Services (Nasdaq: AMZN) are not organized by industry, which may make it easier for Accenture to align with those hyperscalers. Though more traditional partners, such as SAP (NYSE: SAP), pushing an industry-led approach, through initiatives such as Model Company, may challenge Accenture’s ability to manage competing ecosystem pressures.
The Accenture Technology Symposium brought together over 200 Accenture (NYSE: ACN) clients, along with industry leaders and practitioners. Similar to last year’s event, Accenture discussed and showcased disrupting technologies in areas including cloud, blockchain, AI, automation and security while using client case studies and testimonials to highlight Accenture’s innovation-led approach to solving business problems.