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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 22nd 2011

By Sramana Mitra and guest authors Siddharth Garg and Rahul Nagpal

Frank: We don’t generate our own power. A lot of the computing stuff that’s similar across companies, why wouldn’t you be buying that capacity outside the four walls of the company and getting better economies of scale and capability?

Sramana: Yes. Now, you mentioned your first application you went toward was this recruiting solution. Can you elaborate on that? I don’t know how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel about talking about vendors and talk leadership in that domain; I would actually love to hear specifics.

Frank: Yes, on the specific vendors, I prefer not to comment just because by my commenting it will be construed as an endorsement by Accenture, which is not intended. We have done a bunch of stuff. In fact, the first true software as a service app that I can think of was the recruiting app we did about six years ago. But in reality, I would probably put into that same category of software as a service for a number of the payroll systems that we run that are run by third parties. They appear somewhat different from software as a service, but in reality, they are just that.

So, the first one that I can point to and say we were using the term software as a service and we implemented was recruiting. Many of our payroll systems around the world are actually providing software as a service. Recently, we moved many of our bank interfaces over to a something called the Swift Net. We now have a provider that we use for for our managed connection to Swift Net, which is the automated interfaces of bank usage to communicate with each other for banking transactions. We now use that as a software as a service capability, basically retiring all the direct bank-to-bank interfaces we used to have.

Sramana: I am going to ask you for some specific areas where I am seeing significant trends, and I am interested in your comments on those. You have already commented on HR, and you have commented a bit on banking. What is your perspective on collaboration? That seems to be one function that is moving very aggressively into the cloud.

Frank: Yes, I would agree with that. I think what you are seeing is that applications like that – I would view them as horizontal, i. e., coming across business areas that are really entry-level stakes for communicating, whether it’s email, voice or video. You are going to see more and more of that move into the cloud because it is very much a scale play. And let’s face it, email is not a competitive differentiator. It’s a service that you need. You have to have it. It has to be reliable. It has to work. It has to be secure. But if my email system is better than my competitors’, guess what? You are not going to see them at the bottom line.

Sramana: No, what I am hearing is email is a complete cost decision at this point. In fact, there is more wide-scale adoption of Google’s Gmail and Productivity Suite, the office suite for that very reason.

Frank: I think you are going to see cost being an important capability. It’s not going to be the only thing, but it is an overriding capability … overriding differentiator. You’re going to want to reduce the cost. However, you also need to think about compatibility with other things you have and things of that nature, and the change curve you need to take your people through, and so on. There are other things to consider. But I do think you are going to see just a few providers be successful in that space.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture
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