Accenture Operations to bet on AI based automation platforms
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New Delhi: Accenture Operations, the $7-billion business segment of technology firm Accenture Plc, which deals with process outsourcing, infrastructure consulting and outsourcing, security and cloud services, is betting on automation platforms backed by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for its next phase of growth, said Manish Sharma, senior managing director, Accenture Operations in an interview earlier this week.
“Analytics and automation are critical and are high-focus areas for us. We are using automation technologies at scale for our client base,” he said.
“We are investing a lot of money and time into the AI piece. In automation, there is simple automation like Mini-Bots and then there is high-end automation solutions like Virtual Assistance and artificial or cognitive solutions,” he explained.
“Simple automation is about simple tasks like data entry. But AI is making machines learn and even use judgment on things and take decisions, basically replacing human actions. AI can sense, take decisions, etc., like a Cognibot.”
“We have already been deploying Cognibots in Accenture Operations,” he added.
The firm has put in place a team of more than 2,800 data scientists and analytics experts to deliver analytics-related insights. It also has more than 1,100 automation experts, known as Accenture Tech Masters. This is in addition to more than 3,000 business specialists in automation. The teams have been working on creating automation platforms that can deliver analytics as a service for clients across verticals.
A big chunk of the team is based out of India. Across all Accenture businesses, including Accenture Operations, Technology, Consulting, Strategy and Digital, India has over 130,000 people of 373,000 employees globally.
“We have more than 30 analytics apps built on Accenture’s propriety Analytics Insight Platform that is cloud-based and an end-to-end analytics platform designed to simplify analytics and deliver real-time actionable insights to our clients,” said Sharma.
“In the last 6 months, we have deployed 3,800 automation solutions across the world – across our delivery network. We have driven benefits equivalent to 12 million annualized work hours.”
Accenture has been focusing on sectors such as retail and energy among others, which have pioneered in using analytics to drive growth.
For instance, Sharma said, the company is working with global speciality retail chains.
“Here, we have segmented and profiled customers using statistical methods. Then we developed ‘new offer’ algorithms to generate 10 very customized offers per person per week,” he explained.
“It achieved almost 87% higher spends by providing customer-specific offers.”
Meanwhile, the company has been working towards automating the work being done by its employees at present.
“We have devised a method where I can go to any machine or any person – I can look at the way the person is working for a couple of weeks and come out and say what percentage of the work can be automated,” he said.
“We want our workforce to perform value-based work, business outcome-related operations and not repetitive, manual work that is transactional in nature. We will automate the manual repetitive work.”
The automation platforms have enabled the firm to speed up its operations.
“Speed has become very critical here… we’re able to cut down transition timelines, able to cut down processing lead times, and improve quality of work,” he said, adding the framework has cut cost for clients, increased revenue, and reduced cost of reaching the market faster.
Accenture Operations grew by over 20% in fiscal 2015.
“The market is moving to the “as-a-service” model (where services including analytics are delivered on demand in real time on cloud) only now, there is a lot of opportunity,” he said.