Accenture has, for the third time, been named “Best Employer of the Year” at the annual International ICT Awards Philippines, recognized for its industry-leading initiatives in developing talent, advancing inclusion and diversity, and supporting the welfare of its employees.
Organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and supported by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, the International ICT Awards Philippines recognize outstanding companies that have exhibited leadership and excellence in the local information and communications technology (ICT) industry.
As a people-driven company, Accenture remains focused on developing and upskilling our workforce, enabling them to deliver innovative services to our clients in this digital age.
Lito Tayag, country managing director for Accenture in the Philippines
The Best Employer of the Year award, which Accenture also won in 2008 and 2017, is given to the company that has showcased leadership in elevating employee potential and success by institutionalizing a talent-led approach that paves the way forward to a more diverse, inclusive and future-ready workforce.
“We are honored to be named Best Employer of the Year for the third time, reaffirming our leadership position in the local ICT industry and our commitment to building a community of innovators across our facilities in Manila, Cebu and Ilocos,” said Lito Tayag, country managing director for Accenture in the Philippines.
“As a people-driven company, Accenture remains focused on developing and upskilling our workforce, enabling them to deliver innovative services to our clients in this digital age. Moreover, we are steadfast in our commitment to become the most inclusive and diverse employer in the industry, as highlighted by the expansion of our parental benefits package and the EDGE Move Certification that recognized our efforts in promoting gender equality in the workplace,” Tayag added. (Press Release)
Digital is no longer a differentiator for enterprises but “the price of admission to do business,” a top official of a global technology company said in a briefing on Tuesday.
Digital technologies are already an expectation and no longer a differentiator, said JP Palpallatoc, Managing Director and Accenture Digital Lead in the Philippines in a briefing for media.
“Now that everybody is doing digital, what will differentiate you?” Palpallatoc said in a briefing in Manila and connected via video conferencing with one of their offices in Cebu City.
Palpallatoc gave an overview on key technology trends in the next few years as identified by the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 report. He said the time we are in is “post-digital,” because using technologies is already a given in the enterprise.
“Just as people no longer say they live in the “age of electricity,” the days of calling something digital to insinuate that it is new and innovative are numbered,” Accenture said in its report.
The company said the “post-digital” era means companies need to “double down on completing their digital transformations to get the most value from those investments—and at the same time, turn a strategic eye toward what’s next.”
What’s next, Palpallatoc said, are a new set of technologies that will make a major impact in the next 3 years.
1) New technologies
Accenture lists these technologies as DARQ for Distributed ledger or blockchain, Artificial intelligence, extended Reality, and Quantum computing.
“Future-minded leaders know that mastering the next set of technologies will give them every advantage,” the company said in a video clip explaining DARQ.
Palpallatoc cited as example Volkswagen, which “uses quantum computing to study traffic flow optimization analysis and looking into the chemical structure of batteries to find out how to make better ones.” He said they are also using AI for its vehicles and extended reality through googles that guide its workers in repairing units.
Volkswagen also extensively uses the blockchain to increase the security of its system as well as for payments. Palpallatoc cited UnionBank of the Philippines as a local company “deep into the blockchain,” using it to connect rural banks and for internal processes.
People’s use of technology creates an identity that enriches their demographic, which can then be tapped to created individualized experiences, Palpallatoc said.
“In the past, what we talked about in getting to know your consumer was called personalization. We used traditional demographics – are you female are you male do you live here, etc? ” he said.
“What we’re seeing from a post-digital area is going beyond personalization to individualized experiences and leveraging technology identity. These are the technology choices that individuals make as well as how they are using those technologies. That information is being used to enrich the demographics,” he said.
The Accenture report said 83% of respondents found that digital demographics allow them to identify unmet needs of customers.
Palpallatoc cited as example the SlicePay lending platform in India that targets unbanked students. By going over their social media for information on the vacations that they take or the restaurants they visit, they are able to identify to whom they lend money.
Another use case is the John Hancock Vitality Program, an insurance package that uses wearables like smartwatches to offer consumers discounts on their premiums if they meet fitness goals.
3) Empowered human workers
Empowered by technology and with improved skills and expertise, workers are becoming “human+,” said Palpallatoc.
“In a post-digital era, people are still central to the innovation agenda. We need to keep people front and center,” he said.
He said technologies like AI, analytics, extended reality are extending the capabilities of employees. Companies, however, “still recruit, hire and manage for the workforce of years past,” according to the Accenture study.
Palpallatoc said, “71% of respondents said digital workers are more mature now compared to their organizations. Workers are waiting for the company to catch up. There is a need for company to change the way they organize their work to be able support the human+ workers and enable them.”
He cited as example the use by Unilever of technology and AI for interviews and assessment of entry-level hires. This resulted in a 90% increase in job applications and the shortening of time it took to fill the job from 4 months to a few days, he said.
4) Ecosystem security
Enterprises have found that security today requires that they also keep an eye out beyond their premises.
“In the past, their approach to security was my company first, secure your walled garden, make sure nobody gets in,” Palpallatoc said. “What we’ve seen with the advent of ecosystems is that you cannot just protect yourself, you need to protect each one of your ecosystem as well.”
Security is a team sport and enterprises have to protect each other, he said.
He cited as example the decision by Netflix to open source its security tools.
5) My Markets
Technology and data now allow companies to customize products and services and deliver them fast and on demand, Palpallatoc said.
This trend is “about using technologies like IOT (internet of things) on being able to capture the reality at that point in time and being able to respond,” he said.
“Technology is creating a world of intensely customized and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities,” Accenture said in its report.
The company reported that 85% of executives they surveyed said “that the integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage.”
Palpallatoc cited as example of hyper-customization a beverage company in India that offers different flavors depending on where these are sold. He said the company even has a custom flavor sold only for a few days a year – during a festival.
For the fourth consecutive year, Accenture is teaming up with Code.org to support Hour of Code, a global educational movement that reaches over 100 million students through a one-hour introduction to computer science. This year, in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week (December 3-9), Accenture is expanding its coding tutorial across 15 languages – English, Chinese, Dutch, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Vietnamese – to bring coding to more students around the world through lessons in their native languages.
Nearly 2,500 Accenture employees have committed to teach an hour of code at local events in their communities, helping to inspire more than 100,000 students around the world to learn coding and computer science skills.
“As disruptive technologies advance and have a growing impact on society, a significant skills gap is also growing – so much so that already millions of jobs requiring STEM skills are unfilled worldwide,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer and “chief coder.”
“It is critical that we equip today’s students – tomorrow’s workforce – with not just these skills, but also an understanding of how they can harness creativity and innovation to improve the way the world works and lives,” Daugherty said.
Accenture is building on the success of last year’s launch of the Accenture Intelligent Space Exploration, a coding tutorial in which students discover how artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be applied to teach a robot to explore a new planet – recognizing animals and plants, understanding a new language, and conversing with inhabitants. Approximately 110,000 individuals have participated in the tutorial since its debut.
“By learning to code, kids will grow up understanding how humans and technology work together—an important first lesson in preparing for the future,” said Jill Huntley, global managing director for corporate citizenship at Accenture. “Hour of Code is a fantastic opportunity for Accenture volunteers to help to build New Skills Now all over the world.”
Accenture’s global commitment to provide more opportunities for students to learn to code supports the company’s Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative, which addresses urgent workforce needs around the world—including preparing the next generation with the skills to work in the digital economy.
As part of this year’s Hour of Code collaboration, Accenture employees are developing and leading engaging activities around the world aimed at inspiring students in new ways. Among these activities include:
Marty Rodgers, senior managing director and local office managing director for Accenture in Metro Washington, D.C., is joining Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Kevin Rutherford, and 60 community organizations to launch #thecitythatcodes – a year dedicated to STEM education in Baltimore. The program kicks off with an hour of code taught to adults, by elementary school students.
In Texas, Accenture is hosting 200 students at NASA’s Space Center Houston, taking students out of the classroom and showing them first-hand what a future in computer science can look like.
In the Philippines, Accenture is organizing Hour of Code sessions for over 450 grade school students from public and private schools across its sites in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Ilocos. As part of its corporate citizenship commitment, Accenture in the Philippines is rallying its more than 50,000 employees to participate and volunteer in company-wide Hour of Code sessions set on December 5 as well as create their own coding events.
“We are excited to support Hour of Code once again as part of our corporate citizenship commitment to drive digital upskilling and equip our next generation of Filipino talent with coding skills. Through Hour of Code, we can help our students build a strong foundation for success in the digital age in a fun and creative way,” said Lito Tayag, country managing director, Accenture in the Philippines.
“Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science – it provides a critical foundation for success in any 21st-century career path – not just in ‘traditional’ IT, but also creative vocations – everything from graphic design to theater production,” said Hadi Partovi, co-founder and CEO of Code.org. “To-date, over 100 million students around the world have participated in Hour of Code. This is because organizations such as Accenture go above-and-beyond to advance our shared vision of equipping the youth of today with skills they’ll need in the future.”
MANILA – Accenture is the recipient of the Talent Development Program award from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). The award recognizes Accenture’s ongoing employee training and learning initiatives for new and emerging technologies in the digital economy.
Accenture was commended for developing learning roadmaps that leverage digital platforms, mobile solutions, and collaboration tools to help employees upskill and reskill faster. Programs range from virtual learning and online learning boards to playhouses and innovation competitions. In addition, the association noted the importance of Accenture’s collaboration with industry and the academic community to foster an innovative culture among its employees.
Accenture was among the six top companies named under IBPAP’s Talent Development Program this year.
The team from Cebu Institute of Technology University won the top prize with their Tingog app, which seeks to help children with cleft palate and speech difficulties learn how to speak. Tingog is meant to complement professional speech therapy, the students said in an earlier interview.
The CIT students won P300,000 while the school got P50,000.
A team from University of San Carlos won the Accenture Tech Vision Award for its project, Tactus. The project taps internet of things and artificial intelligence to allow blind people to read via a glove that transforms words into Braille feedback on the finger tips.
Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences completed the winners with a project aimed at preventing flash floods by using sensors.
Five teams from Cebu made it to the national finals. CIT had another finalist that proposed using tech to manage and monitor Cebu City’s free medicines program. University of the Philippines Cebu made it to the nationals with its Cancervive, an app to support cancer victims in their treatment. University of San Jose Recoletos, meanwhile, had a finalist team that proposed a portal to analyze and assess needs of communities hit by calamities.
Program The Future is an annual event started by Accenture five years ago as a way to link up with the academe.
“The intent really is through the months-long program, we want to help students rediscover their power to shape the future through technology,” Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in the Philippines Managing Director Arvin Yason said in an earlier interview.
“We’re also helping them see that it’s not just about technology it’s also about creativity, imagination, teamwork–because we’re a very team-oriented organization–and the power of technology to make the world a better place,” he added.
Companies able to tap innovative talent, harness insights from large amounts of data and applied intelligence and tap benefits from the cloud and smart partnerships will be in the best position to survive disruption and do well in business, a recent global report said.
“The future is about taking your business processes to become intelligent operations,” he said. “That is really capitalizing on digital disruption, access to phenomenal amounts of data, and the need to disrupt or improve the customer experience.”
Move to intelligent operations
“The move to intelligent operations is fast becoming a make-or-break proposition for organizations, with 80 percent surveyed saying they are concerned with disruption and competitive threats, especially from new digitally savvy entrants.” Accenture said in a report on the study.
“It’s exciting to be looking at what used to be known as BPO (business process outsourcing) or BPS (business process service) and the challenge in front of us is how do we take our clients to an intelligent operations status to actually deliver all these benefits,” Hernandez said.
The research identified 5 essential components of intelligent operations: innovative talent, data-driven backbone, applied intelligence, leveraging the power of the cloud, and a smart partnership ecosystem.
To move to intelligent operations, businesses need employees skilled in the new IT – data scientists, analysts, and experts on technology such as the cloud, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.
In the case of Accenture operations, Hernandez said “talent is very important to us” and the company has 11,000 business advisors globally. “These are process experts who understand where is it that we can apply digital enhancements so that the client actually benefits.” The company also has 49,000 cloud practitioners and 4,000 data scientists globally.
“Having said that, you also have your current workforce that you continue to invest in so that they can actually be up-trained and re-skilled,” he said. Training workers to a redefined and changed nature of work is the “heavy lifting that companies need to be doing.”
“Because we’ve been automating so much over the past couple of years, what we have done is majority of the cost savings in automation is actually re-invested in up-training and upskilling everybody,” Hernandez said.
Companies accumulate a large volume of data. The challenge for their clients, Hernandez said, is “how are you able to access and harness all of that data and run analytics, whether it’s predictive or prescriptive, so that you can actually improve the way the companies are performing?”
In one of the booths during the internal innovation roadshow at Accenture, a team showed how companies can spot trends in collection of payments by analyzing volumes of historical data.
Applied intelligence is using automation, analytics, and AI to improve processes. While many people see cost savings as a big driver for this, Hernandez said automating a process “benefits many other areas.”
“When the process works better, the end-customer experience is better, and there’s less of the routine tasks that people are doing, it allows the employee experience to also be better,” Hernandez said. “Now I don’t have to do all those mundane, repetitive, boring tasks because applied intelligence has already taken care of that. I can now make use of my human talent and skills to do more judgement, creative, problem-solving, more challenging, and more interesting kinds of activities.”
Automation can also eliminate human errors that expose companies to risk and compliance issues.
Leverage the power of the cloud
Companies are already plugging into “what’s available out there and have infrastructure as a service” rather than building their own. This allows them to be agile and flexible in their technology infrastructure.
“Buying and maintaining your own technology infrastructure is very costly and it actually becomes obsolete faster and faster because of just the rate of evolution,” he said.
With cloud companies continuing to evolve their offerings, “you’re able to get to the latest every time, you don’t need to do your own investment for that,” he said.
Companies have also realized they “don’t have to be an expert in all areas” and could just tap partners to move to intelligent operations.
“In the case of Accenture, we have about 150 enterprise partners around the world of different technology and services that we work with. In AI alone, we don’t do AI on our own – we do a lot of R&D on AI but we partner a lot with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services,” Hernandez said. “The main thing about the partnership ecosystem is that you can plug in to who are the best enterprises out there in their particular fields.”
This migration to intelligent operation is well underway and the nature of work that the company is getting from its clients have markedly changed.
“A lot of the companies getting into operations partnerships with Accenture is actually to innovate their operations to become more intelligent operations. And this is an example of a smart partnership ecosystem. Because they realize that I can’t do this alone. I don’t have the expertise, I don’t wanna build all that expertise so I can actually transform myself. Why don’t I work with Accenture so they can take my process to become more intelligent,” he said.
Where next opportunity is
From cost arbitrage years back, clients conversations have moved beyond that into “how do I make my process more digital, how do you allow my operations to save me money, to give me insights so I can actually improve my cash flow position, how I can be more competitive?” he said.
He said the move to intelligent operations “is really where the next opportunity for us and our clients.”
“My hope is when you now say BPO or you think about Accenture and intelligent operations, these becomes the example that comes to mind versus traditionally what we think about in BPO terms.” Hernandez added.
Rather than displace human workers, artificial intelligence or AI will create more jobs and boost company revenues, according to a report by Accenture.
If businesses invest in AI and human-machine collaboration, they could increase revenues by 38% by 2020 and raise employment levels by 10%, the report said. Globally, that increase could amount to $4.8 trillion.
Investing on new technology like AI and the training of employees for the new IT is already “urgent,” said Lito Tayag, Country Managing Director of Accenture in the Philippines.
He said the survey, done on 14,078 workers and 1,201 business leaders across the world, showed that both business leaders and employees see the value of working with AI.
Tayag said in a tele-press conference with Manila and Cebu media yesterday that 74% of business leaders say they will “automate tasks and processes to a large/very large extent in the next 3 years.”
Of the number, 97% say “they will use it to augment worker capabilities,” the report pointed out.
“Often people only think of AI boosting growth by substituting humans. But actually, huge value is going to come from the new goods, services and innovations AI will enable,” the Accenture report quoted MIT Economics Professor David Autor as saying.
Urgency to invest in training, new IT
Tayag said the report found that workers “are impatient to work with AI,” with 67% saying it is important to develop skills to work with intelligent machines, 62% saying these technologies will have a positive impact on their work, and 45% believing AI will help them do their jobs more efficiently. He cited examples of how employees become more efficient by working with intelligent machines and AI. The openness to develop new skills to work with AI is supported not only by millennials, at 75%, but also baby boomers, at 56%, the report said.
When asked about the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey that showed only 35 percent of Cebu business leaders look at how technology can help in the company’s overall strategic plan, Tayag said the gap “points more to the urgency.”
He said the CeO survey vis-a-vis the Accenture report “highlights the need to actually accelerate even just the basic acceptance of the reality” of what he described as the new IT like AI and machine learning.
“On one hand we are already looking at the implementation, in Cebu they are still looking at the acceptance that this is something important for them to do,” he said.
Tayag said AI and human-machine collaboration are business differentiators that can bolster companies in a disruptive business environment.
“Do you want to risk the disruption that will be brought about by others who are going to do this reworking of processes?” he said.
Tayag said the study found business leaders “underinvesting in skills development” with only 3% of executives planning “to significantly increase investment in skills development in the next 3 years.” He said, however, this could also be the case of businesses already investing heavily in training and no longer planning to “significantly increase” efforts.
“To achieve higher rates of growth in the age of AI, companies need to invest more in equipping their people to work with machines in new ways,” said Mark Knickrehm, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy. “Increasingly, businesses will be judged on their commitment to what we call Applied Intelligence – the ability to rapidly implement intelligent technology and human ingenuity across all parts of their core business to secure this growth.”
Tayag said the report made 3 key recommendations on how leaders can “shape the future workforce in the age of AI.”
1. Reimagine Work by reconfiguring work from the bottom up. Assess tasks, not jobs; then allocate tasks to machines and people, balancing the need to automate work and to elevate people’s capabilities. Nearly half (46 percent) of business leaders agree that job descriptions are already obsolete; 29 percent say they have redesigned jobs extensively.
2. Pivot the Workforce to areas that unlock new forms of value. Go beyond process efficiencies and prepare the workforce to create new customer experiences. Fuel new growth models by reinvesting the savings derived from automation into the future workforce. Foster a new leadership DNA that underpins the mindset, acumen and agility required to seize longer-term, transformational opportunities.
3. Scale up “New Skilling.” Measure the workforce’s level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI. Using digital platforms, target programs at these different segments of the workforce and personalize them to improve new skills adoption.
School principal Rosemarie Novabos was apprehensive. Her students at OPRRA National High School only started ICT classes this year and they were already being invited by Accenture to join Saturday’s Hour of Code.
While she told ICT coordinator Vince Impel to “immediately say yes” to the invitation by Accenture, whom she described as an important stakeholder of their school, she admitted to being apprehensive because the activity involved “coding.”
Excited by sessions
Her students, on the other hand, said they were excited by the opportunity. Most said in an interview that the only experience they had with computers before the Hour of Code at the Accenture office in Cebu IT Park was to play games. Impel said their lessons so far were only on how to use the PC and some office applications.
For Grade 10 student Marites Hagoyahay, time on the computer meant using Facebook and YouTube. But on Saturday, she was among the first to finish 2 modules for the Hour of Code – essentially 2 hours of work in less than an hour. One involved control of Disney characters on the screen by manipulating blocks of code and the other an introduction to concepts on artificial intelligence (AI).
It was really fun and exciting and I learned from it, Hagoyahay said in an interview.
When asked if she is considering a computer science course, she nodded enthusiastically but said “mahal man kaayo if direct computer engineering. Plano nako is accountancy lang sa and then after, engineering.” (Computer engineering is very expensive. I plan to take up accountancy first and then take up engineering after.)
Encourage to take up STEAM
“We must give our students, our youth, that kickstart to encourage them to go to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics),” said Accenture Managing Director, Technology Arvin Yason. “This Hour of Code is a fantastic example, fantastic venue for organizations like Accenture.”
Yason said students should be exposed to code since “it’s a great first step towards a career in technology. It is a great first step towards a career in computer sciences.” He recounted how his father’s decision to buy a personal computer when he was young led him to try out coding and eventually guided him to a career in technology.
He said he’s hoping the Hour of Code will also have a similar impact on the students they hosted.
Accenture chose OPRRA National High School because it is a recipient of computers donated by the company.
“We’re very happy to know and see how technology is enabling these students and all it took is one yes and a commitment to say yes, we wanna do it. Now they are enabling more of their students with all these skills,” said Accenture Media and Analyst Relations Lead Grace Cuenca.
Intro to AI concepts
Accenture has hosted Hour of Code in Cebu for 3 years, mostly with students of Passerelles Numérique. What differentiates this year’s session is the inclusion of an introduction to AI.
Accenture built a module for students to “discover how various AI techniques can teach a robot to explore a new planet — including recognizing animals and plants, understanding a new language, and conversing with inhabitants.”
Yason said encouraging the youth to take up coding is important in light of what he described as a “global war for talent.”
Shortage of talent
“There is a large demand for computer science professionals globally. In the US. for example, there are for any given year demand for almost half a million computer science jobs. And they only graduate 40,000 CS majors every year. Not enough to fill the demand,” he said.
In the Philippines, there is also a shortage of talent.
“We see a problem if we don’t work with academia, we don’t work with government to really encourage students into a career in technology,” he said.
Yason said Accenture employees were also enthusiastic in volunteering for the program, with slots filled up in minuted.
“It’s providing opportunities to people. It’s a way for us to pay forward, invest in the youth, and invest in the country also,” he added.
“Failure in our school is not an option,” said Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano. “It is a necessity.”
Quijano is the founder and managing director of Compass Education, which promotes STEAM education and 21st century learning skills built on creativity, innovation, collaboration and critical thinking. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
“Failure in a STEAM classroom is a necessity because we’re trying to inculcate in our kids, as young as they are, that sometimes the most profound lessons they will learn are actually in their mistakes,” Quijano said during the media briefing for the 3rd Robotics Cup at the Accenture office in eBloc 2 at the Asiatown IT Park.
The 3rd Robotics Cup was held last November 11 and 12 at the SM Seaside City.
Winners of the event included student teams that offered solutions to such issues as trash, transportation, weather monitoring and health. (See photos below)
Quijano stressed the need for students to learn in a hands-on environment.
“When you just let your kids sit down and memorize, you waste their brains. We believe in hands-on learning. Children are hungry for that,” she said. “We can’t sit down the whole day listening to facts. I don’t get that.”
The Robotics Cup was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Accenture.
“We believe in Accenture that there is a need to bolster efforts to create a better understanding of these technologies,” said Grace Cuenca, Media and Analyst Relations Lead of Accenture in the Philippines, during the press briefing.
The partnership to support the event “is growing,” said engineer Tristan Abando of DOST 7.
“We are very happy because it’s really the private industry that’s spearheading to introduce this to our young kids. Robotics is one of the areas where the DOST is a delving into, especially for our research and development,” Abando said.
Accenture managing director Arvin Yason said the partnership for the event does not just lead to students understanding technologies like artificial intelligence or AI but to actually “build skills for AI.”
Opportunities on AI
Yason said Accenture defines AI as any system that can, on its own, sense, comprehend, act, and learn.
“Three of these core components of AI are already part of the kits that the participants are using,” Yason said. “What differentiates true AI is the learning portion.”
He said AI is an important technology because it can increase profitability of companies. “We’re looking at AI doubling the profitability in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said.
Yason said AI can also boost productivity.
He said Accenture has identified 4 imperatives that industries, organizations, and even nations need to focus on to maximize opportunities in AI.
“I’ll focus on the first one: preparing the next generation for artificial intelligence. There is a need to consciously focus actions and ensure that the upcoming generation of people not just developers but also artists etc. are prepared to maximize the AI potential,” Yason said.
He said Accenture is doing this through various initiatives internally and externally. Supporting events like the Robotics Cup, he said, is among the key initiatives.
Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.
That part of the program was meant to highlight a key character of the facility: a center for agile development and design thinking to produce innovation using “new IT.”
“This floor is very much in ‘the new IT’,” said Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, who hosted the ceremony as a hologram. With a lot of open spaces and movable furniture to allow quick reconfigurations as well as huddle areas and design-thinking spots, “we instill nimbleness and agility in the way we work.”
Commitment to Cebu
The opening of the new facility is also “a manifestation of our commitment to Cebu,” said Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag. He also said the company is on track to meeting the 1,000 in additional workers it committed to employ at the start of the year to mark their 10th anniversary. He said they’ve already hired an additional 800 workers for Cebu, bringing its workforce here to 5,800.
“Cebu is an integral component, a strategic part of our practice here in the Philippines,” Tayag said. “More than the numbers – and we’re very happy with the numbers so far – it is really the value, the kind of innovative services that we deliver out of our Cebu operations.”
The new facility will showcase technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality, and the internet of things.
“We are very happy about the kind of talent that we have here but just as importantly, we would continue to develop these talents,” Tayag said in a press conference held after the inauguration and facility tour for journalists and members of the academe.
Tayag, Yason and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, led the tour of the facility.
Among the highlights of the event was a demonstration of a parking system that allows people to know ahead, via a mobile app, available spaces in a business such as a mall. The system, built by a Cebu team as part of a company-wide innovation contest, also allows for people to reserve parking slots and even pay digitally.
Another product presented to guests was a crisis response and management system that allows Accenture to keep track of its employees and know whether they are safe or in need of assistance after an emergency like a natural disaster. Alerts can be sent out on various platforms like email, SMS and mobile notifications.
Accenture also showed guests how a redesign of the Qantas website resulted in higher sales. They also demonstrated an augmented reality app that makes print materials such as a map of an amusement park interactive and multi-media as well as overlay ads and information triggered by location data.
Redesign retail experience
More than digital, Accenture also highlighted how they were able to reinvent the physical retail experience for customers of Smart Communications using design thinking and various technologies. This resulted in a 249% increase in foot traffic, 80% reduction in waiting time and 169% increase in store sales in the redesigned stores.
During the tour, officials stressed the design thinking approach into providing solutions to their clients. “To deliver delight consistently at the speed that our clients desire for their customers, we need to start with design thinking and user-centricity,” Yason said.
The way the newly-inaugurated facility is configured also plays a key role in how Accenture is “upskilling, reskilling, cross-skilling and multi-skilling our talent,” he said. From being focused on “classrooms” in teaching workers new skills, Accenture has started to “enable nooks and areas where people, while on break, can start learning new IT in smaller bite-sized formats, whether via video or an app or game that we develop.”
Other locations will be retrofitted based on the new facility’s design because workers gave positive feedback that the configuration “empowers them to work in the new IT – working agile, doing standup meetings, being able to collaborate,” said Yason.
The facility helps Accenture “future-proof our people,” Tayag said.
“We’ve grown tremendously in Cebu for the last 10 years. That growth is a reflection not just of Accenture’s capabilities but also the capabilities of the local market in terms of talent, the way the academe has been producing talent for us,” Yason said.
Accenture is among the top tech companies based in Cebu. It has been given that recognition by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization for several years. The company’s other locations in Cebu are in Pioneer House, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, eBloc Tower 2 and eBloc Tower 3 at the IT Park.
Position as innovation center
Yason said the company is looking for engineers with good grasp of AI, robotics, and analytics to staff their locations.
“Our clients sit on top a lot of data but a lot of that is what we call dark data – they don’t know what they have. We are partnering with them to leverage more and more of that dark data to create revenue where there was no opportunity in the past. (We do this) through the power of data visualization and analytics and eventually AI as well,” Yason said.
Tayag said that what the company wants to foster among its workers is a mindset for innovation as they move up in the “value chain of our services.”
“At the end of the day, we believe that we can position our services here in the Philippines from an innovation standpoint rather than purely from a delivery standpoint,” he added.
Systems that detect whether mining vehicles are overloaded or its drivers exhausted to an augmented reality platform to train people how to operate machinery or decorate a house were put on display as Accenture launched today its rapid innovation center in the Philippines.
Liquid Studio is an “open center where clients co-innovate with Accenture engineers to turn concepts into applications and solutions with speed and agility,” the company said.
While it is a venue where Accenture clients can work on innovation to stay ahead in business, it is also a place where the company’s workers can be trained or work on the latest technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, said Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and technology lead, Accenture in the Philippines.
Technology innovation hub
It will also serve as a hub in the technology ecosystem in the Philippines, she said.
JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, said the Liquid Studio would be a place where the company can co-innovate with universities and schools as well as startups.
The center will help answer the question “how do you use technology to create business value?” said Accenture Technology Services group chief executive Bhaskar Ghosh.
During Thursday’s launch at the facility, which occupies an entire floor with about 2,000 square meters in the Uptown Place 3 at the BGC in Taguig City, Accenture showcased technologies on the connected home, artificial intelligence, internet of things, drones, analytics, robotics, and augmented reality.
Speed up development
The rapid innovation approach with agile methodologies can hasten development time from months to a matter of days or weeks, Palpallatoc said.
Among those they put on demo for journalists who covered the launch was a system that is able to scan faces and identify the person, take note of personal characteristics, and determine the mood: whether he or she is happy. It can be deployed in advertising displays that can tailor the marketing material based on data captured by the system.
That system was built in a matter of days by an Accenture team member. Also built quickly and shown on demo was an internal chatbot platform on which the company can provision systems or work on technical tasks just by messaging.
The company also showcased a mini-racing track with toy cars that used the Oracle cloud to display a dashboard of data analytics gathered by the toy vehicles. It shows how using analytics can help managers determine such things as vehicle fuel efficiency. They also showed a model of a system that can monitor and manage mining vehicles. It can guard against overloading and offer data to increase operational efficiency. It can even determine whether the driver is already exhausted by, among other things, monitoring for micro-sleeps via a camera.
The company also showed a crop monitoring system that used sensors, drones and thermal cameras to monitor the health of plants.
In demonstrating the use of augmented reality, the company showed how using an app, people will be able to focus the camera on a car engine and know its parts and how to do such things as replace the battery. The information is overlaid on the actual display of the vehicle. They also demonstrated how using Microsoft’s Holo Lens, people can preview how furniture, carpets and other accessories will look in the actual room.
Palpallatoc said augmented reality is a great technology to tap in training workers. He said it can provide a safer and cheaper alternative to working on an actual equipment.
Social benefits of technology
The Liquid Studio is part of a network of facilities throughout the world. This makes sure innovation is available to clients in its various facilities globally, said Ghosh.
During the launch, Ghosh highlighted the social benefits of technology by showing how an employee in Manila with hearing and speech impairment was able to work with colleagues in India by tapping AI to facilitate video communication. This, Ghosh said, will enable more people to join the workforce. He said it will enable managers to have a more diverse employee pool, including those who previously would not have been able to work.
Artificial intelligence (AI), technology design that adapts to people, integration with external systems, on-demand work platforms and leadership in uncharted areas of the industry are the key technology for the next three years, according to Accenture.
“Technology advancement and innovation continue to advance and it’s accelerating very quickly. However, there’s a little bit of differentiation. Instead of in the past when people were adapting to technology, what we’re seeing is that technology is being shaped by people to adapt to us, the people,” said JP Palpallatoc, Accenture Digital Lead in the Philippines.
Palpallatoc briefed reporters in Manila and, via teleconference, in Cebu on the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 on Wednesday.
Accenture said in a press statement that the theme of this year’s report is a “call to action for business and technology leaders to actively design and direct technology to augment and amplify human capabilities.”
Global survey of IT executives
The report was based on a survey of 5,400 business and information technology executives from 31 countries across 16 industries. It is meant to identify “priority technology investments over the next few years.”
The report, Palpallatoc said, identified the following key trends:
1) AI is the new UI. AI “is coming of age” in making human interactions with technology “simple and smart.”
AI is increasingly becoming the new user interface (UI) for people interacting with digital systems. Palpallatoc cited the various roles of AI such as curator to suggest options based on user behavior like music recommendations by Spotify; advisor that learns from data and gives suggested course of action like LettuceBot that identifies whether a sprout is a lettuce or weed; and orchestrator that learns from user actions and connects with multiple channels such as what Amazon Alexa does in connecting to various services and devices.
Palpallatoc also said that increasingly, AI will serve as a company’s digital spokesperson, “moving beyond a back-end tool and taking on more sophisticated roles within technology interfaces.”
“Thanks to its powerful simplicity, customers may soon spend more time engaged with a company’s AI than talking to their people,” the report said.
2) Ecosystems as “macrocosms.” Companies are integrating their systems with other platforms.
Palpallatoc cited as example companies’ use of cloud services. He said “companies are realizing that they have to play nice and work with others.”
He also cited as example the investment by Whole Foods on an online shopping platform as a way to access a new digital ecosystem. Accenture said 27 percent of executives “reported that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value.”
3) Workforce marketplace. Increasingly, companies are tapping on-demand work marketplaces to augment its capabilities. Palpallatoc said companies now realize that to remain competitive, the need to tap external talent.
He cited as example the experience of Procter and Gamble, which found success in tapping external talent. He said the result was “very positive” and projects were done faster and better.
“Leading companies are dissolving traditional hierarchies and replacing them with talent marketplaces, which in turn is driving the most profound economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution.”
The report said 85% of executives they surveyed planned to increase use of independent freelance workers over the next year.
4) Design for humans. Rather than people having to change in dealing with technology, companies now realize that tech has to adapt to the needs of people.
Palpallatoc cited as example the case of financial company Betterment, which hides a stock portfolio’s daily performance in its dashboard to shield investors from “short-sighted actions.”
The report said 80% of executives agreed that business “need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be – and shape technology to act as their guide to realize desired outcomes.”
5) The Uncharted. To succeed, businesses must “delve into uncharted territory instead of focusing solely on introducing new products and services,” the report said.
“They should think bigger – seize opportunities to establish rules and standards for entirely new industries,” it added.
Accenture said 74% of the executives in their survey reported that their business is “entering entirely new digital industries that have yet to be defined.”
Biggest impact on Philippines
When asked which of the trends will have the biggest impact on the Philippines, Palpallatoc identified AI, saying he sees a lot of opportunity in it for the country.
But, he said, there are also risks of people losing jobs to AI. Still, the country’s roadmap on business and technology sees a “net growth.”
“There is opportunity,” Palpallatoc said, “The challenge for us is that we need to move the lower-level skilled people up the value chain. They should be able to learn other skills as well: be able to do the mid-level complexity or higher level complexity like doing analytics and other digital skills.”
As Accenture celebrates its 10th anniversary in Cebu this 2017, the company said it is committed to continue growing the business here, especially in the area of technology-driven, digitally-enabled services.
Lito T. Tayag, country managing director of Accenture, Inc. (Philippines), said the company intends to add a thousand to the Cebu workforce within the year.
Accenture also looks forward to opening a new facility within Cebu in 2017.
Accenture currently has 5,000 employees distributed over four facilities in Cebu from the 85 it started out with at Pioneer House in 2007. It has since added facilities in Cybergate, eBloc 2, and eBloc 3.
High-value IT services
According to Tayag, most of Accenture Philippines operations are focused on non-voice, specifically on high-value services in tech, operations, and new IT. The company caters to 120 multi-national clients in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
“The industry is changing through digital transformation, digital disruptions. A lot of our clients are seeking services in new IT or what we call the digital space. Cebu is at the forefront of providing these services,” he added.
Tayag also said that the growth to a 5,000-strong workforce is a major achievement by most standards. Cebu getting the highest engagement score from among Accenture facilities in the country is another proof that the company continues to focus on its people. The rating measures job satisfaction of employees within Accenture offices.
Accenture Cebu growth
On Accenture’s 10th year, Tayag said the company is proud of what it has achieved and commits to more growth in Cebu.
He said the company also helps enable talent through initiatives in the community, including support for the non-profit skills training organization Passerelles Numeriques and giving out scholarships for high school graduates in the Visayas. More than 30 graduates of Passerelles have been hired as Accenture employees.
Accenture also collaborates with the government, organizations, and other companies to ensure that college graduates learn skills that are in step with today’s digital transformation.
Leading companies that develop a people first approach will win in today’s digital economy, according to the latest global technology trends report from Accenture. As technology advancements accelerate at an unprecedented rate – dramatically disrupting the workforce – companies that equip employees, partners and consumers with new skills can fully capitalize on innovations. Those that do will have unmatched capabilities to create fresh ideas, develop cutting-edge products and services, and disrupt the status quo.
“In the Accenture Technology Vision 2016, we’ve identified five technology trends that are critical to digital success,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer. “Digital means people too and a cornerstone of this year’s vision is people first. Companies that embrace digital can empower their workforce to continuously learn new skills to do more with technology and generate bigger and better business results.”
In a companion survey of more than 3,100 business and IT executives worldwide, Accenture found that digital has an impact in 33 percent of the global economy. Additionally, 86 percent of survey respondents anticipate that the pace of technology change will increase at a rapid or unprecedented rate over the next three years.
Digital culture shock
The Accenture report highlights how companies can often feel overwhelmed by the pace of technology change, experiencing “digital culture shock” at the prospect of keeping up with the competition. However, companies can adopt a people-first approach that will allow them to create new business models that drive digital disruption.
One example is GE, which established a new approach called FastWorks that connected employees much more closely to customers and ultimately led to the rapid development of innovative solutions that sold well because they met and exceeded customer expectations. Additionally, Virgin America, the only airline based in Silicon Valley and the highest rated, has gone so far as to collaborate with its frequent flyers, returning customer loyalty with stock options before the company went public.
5 technology trends
In the report, Accenture identifies five technology trends fueled by the people first principal that are essential to business success in the digital economy. The trends include:
1) Intelligent automation. Leaders are embracing automation – powered by artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality – to fundamentally change the way their business operates and drive a new, more productive relationship between people and machines. Significant investments are well underway with 70 percent of survey respondents acknowledging increased AI-related technology investments compared to two years ago, and 55 percent revealing that they plan on using machine learning and embedded AI solutions like IPsoft Amelia extensively.
2) Liquid workforce. By exploiting technology to enable workforce transformation, leading companies will create highly adaptable and change-ready environments that are able to meet today’s dynamic digital demands. The competitive advantage offered by a liquid workforce is apparent as survey respondents indicated that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the fifth-most-important characteristic they required for employees to perform well in a digital work environment. Other qualities such as ‘the ability to quickly learn’ or ‘the ability to shift gears’ were ranked higher.
3) Platform economy. Industry leaders are unleashing the power of technology by developing platform-based business models to capture new growth opportunities, driving the most profound change in the global macroeconomic environment since the Industrial Revolution. This is reinforced by 81 percent of our survey respondents who agree that platform-based business models will become part of their organization’s core growth strategy within three years.
4) Predictable disruption. Fast-emerging digital ecosystems are creating the foundation for the next wave of disruption by straddling markets and blurring industry boundaries; forward-thinking leaders can proactively predict these ecosystem trajectories to gain a competitive advantage. Companies are already significantly or moderately experiencing ecosystem disruption, with 81 percent of survey respondents indicating that they are seeing this in their industry.
5) Digital Trust. Trust is a cornerstone of the digital economy, said 83 percent of survey respondents. To gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems and regulators in this new landscape, businesses must focus on digital ethics as a core strategy; better security alone won’t be enough.
For nearly 16 years, Accenture has taken a systematic look across the enterprise landscape to identify emerging technology trends that hold the greatest potential to disrupt businesses and industries. For more information on this year’s report, visit www.accenture.com/technologyvision or follow the conversation on Twitter with #TechVision2016. (Press release)