Accenture is deeply entrenched in innovation as technology moves at a breakneck pace, and their clients all need to stay apace. Read how Paul and his organization structures continuous innovation.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about how you are thinking about corporate innovation at Accenture from a broad framework point of view.
Paul Daugherty: The way my job and my role is shaped is to look ahead a couple of years and make sure that we’re always moving Accenture’s business in the direction technology is going so we are better positioned and even more relevant in the future than we are today. Accenture is a big company. We have about 440,000 people and about $35 billion in revenue. It’s a big organization.
We’re also a growth-oriented company. We’re growing substantially every year. One way I think about my job is every year, we have to create a couple of billion dollars of new revenue in technology that didn’t exist a few years ago because the pace of technology has changed. Part of my job is to create a couple of unicorn equivalent of revenue every year based on the fast evolving technology environment.
Sramana Mitra: Great. From a goal point of view, that’s very concrete and daunting actually. How do you structure the organization to deliver to that goal?
Paul Daugherty: That’s a great question. We’re always evolving that. We’re learning a lot as we go. The first lesson is, you got to continue to evolve and innovate in how you structure yourself. There’s no finish line in innovation. It’s not like we have one technology wave and then we’re done.
We’re in an era where it’s defined by one continual exponential technology wave after another. It’s the exponential combinatorial revolution that many talk about including us, which means that there is no finish line for innovation. You have to have the culture, mechanism, and structure in your organization to continue to innovate.
In our industry which is technology services, that means that we have to be ahead in innovation because we see our mission as to be the leading company to bring innovation to help our clients transform. Things we do may broadly be defined in five areas. The first point is we have a vision that we continually work on. We’re opinionated. We discard some things and we invest more on other things. That’s our view on where technology is going. We have a vision that drives everything we do.
The second point is we have something we call our innovation architecture, which is a business architecture that we’ve got that goes from front-end research through driving revenue in our business. It’s a set of capabilities that we’ve invested a good deal in to go from idea to results.
The third is culture around innovation. We believe in the top-down and bottom-up process for innovation. We’ve got 440,000 people. It would be naive for us to think that a small number of us at the top are going to define all the innovation. We want to tap the creativity of all of our people. I can talk to you a little bit about various things we’re doing to try to empower the bottom-up in addition to driving the top-down.
The fourth aspect is our ecosystem. We’re a technology services company, but we’re also the largest partner of companies like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and many others. We’re a platform for delivering the best innovation from all those companies. We leverage our partnerships. The fifth part is investment. You can’t be a leader in innovation by just telling people to be more innovative. You have to invest in the right way in different stages of innovation.
At Accenture, we invest somewhere around the order of $760 million a year and it’s an increasing number in research and development and another billion dollars in training our people in innovation in these new areas. We think that that ability to invest in innovation is what sets us apart.