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)
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.
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.
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.