CIO 24/7 Podcast: Technology Vision 2019

CIO 24/7 Podcast: Technology Vision 2019


ANDREW WILSON: It feels more real than perhaps
in any prior year, realizing not just it’s a trend and a direction, but it’s happening
right now inside our enterprises. JASON WARNKE: Hi, I’m Jason Warnke, part
of Accenture’s Internal IT organization. I’m glad to be here today with none other
than our Global CIO, my boss and very good friend, Andrew Wilson. We’re here today to talk about Accenture’s
2019 Tech Vision. Thanks for joining me today, Andrew. Let’s get to it. ANDREW WILSON: Hello, Jason. It’s really good to be here. I’m looking forward to talking about our
Tech Vision for this year. JASON WARNKE: Excellent. So just a little bit on what the Tech Vision
is. Every year, our researchers, as a part of
Accenture Labs and Accenture Research, get together and they think about five key trends
that will shape business over the next three years. So we’re typically doing that, reflecting
on the past several years and looking at momentum and where we think then the next three years
will go. We survey about 6,600 businesses and IT executives
from around the world, 27 different countries, 20 industries, IT executives and non-IT executives,
to really get an understanding of where they think things are going. And in this last year, 94% of respondents
said that the pace of technology innovation in their orgs had either accelerated or significantly
accelerated over the past three years. It’s pretty phenomenal. We’re seeing great examples of that in our
own business, which I know we’ll get to today. So, Andrew, just high level thoughts on the
Tech Vision here at Accenture. You’ve been around quite a long time and
you’ve seen various iterations of it. What are your thoughts just on Tech Vision
as a vehicle for communicating where the future’s headed? ANDREW WILSON: Well, I’ve been the CIO at
Accenture for six years now, Jason. And in those six years, sort of the vast majority
of them, we’ve had input to the Tech Vision and being early readers, eager readers and
I would argue adopters as well. I think it’s a North Star. It’s a North Star that helps our clients,
but it also helps ourselves preempt what the new is, think about the evolving role of technology
in the enterprise and be ready for the future and it puts the future very much here. So it’s one of the best pieces of thought
capital that I read each year and it’s exciting because it helps set strategy, direction,
investment priorities and makes you think as an IT leader, what’s around the corner. JASON WARNKE: That’s great. I know every year, our whole team, our leadership
team, you know, down to everyone in our global team is itching to read the trend because
we know very quickly, we’re going to be translating those things or thinking about
how to translate those things into the way that we serve up our capabilities for our
people here at Accenture. So you’ve had time to read it. It’s just released in, I don’t know, past
several weeks. So, you know, Accenture first read through
and I know this is typically, at least for me, something that it takes a while to have
things syncing. I go back and I’ll read one of the trends
that I didn’t maybe understand the first read through. You’ve had some time to sit with this a
bit, what do you think about this year’s trends in particular? ANDREW WILSON: I think one word encapsulates
to answer your question, that is real. It feels more real than perhaps in any prior
year. Realizing not just it’s a trend and a direction
or it’s happening right now inside our enterprises. It’s relevant to our employees, in our case,
half a million of them around the world, with our guest workers as well. It’s relevant now, it’s not just hyperbole
for the future that one has to think about in advance strategy. We have to reacting to it now. It’s real in terms of its impact on human,
with human worker. It’s real in terms of the security implications. And I think it’s very real in terms of the
identity of the human in the enterprise under my markets and about get to know me. So I look at that and think, and this is happening,
we better do something about it. JASON WARNKE: That’s so true. In previous years, a bit maybe more esoteric
and this year, there are things that we can see evidence of in our own business and if
you talk to our clients, which we do very often in our roles here inside of Accenture’s
IT, we’re seeing and they’re seeing evidence in their businesses of where these things
aren’t just ideas that someone is dreaming up, but they’re putting them into practice. They might not be running at the same pace
as their peers, but they’re certainly doing things in this area and I do love that theme
this year of it’s very practical. There’s a term that’s used time and time
again through the Tech Vision this year that we have a lot of discussion around. You know, we’ve been spending the past several
years talking about getting digital and every business is a digital business. Now we’re in this post-digital era which
I think is interesting. And I love a phrase that came right from the
Tech Vision this year, where it says just as people no longer say that they live in
the age of electricity, the days of calling something digital to insinuate that it is
new and innovative are numbered. I really, really believe that. We, years and years ago, talked about every
business is a digital business. We started saying that when it was a bit too
early perhaps and it wasn’t something that businesses thought about. You know, how could a farm be a digital business? How could a mining company be a digital business? And now you would look back and say, of course,
every business is a digital business. But what is being a post-digital business
mean? What does it mean to be in a post-digital
era? Do you have any thoughts or reflection on
that point? ANDREW WILSON: Well, to be in business, you’ve
got to be digital. So let’s retire digital. And I think that’s the thrust of digital
in the Tech Vision. I think that it is wrong to think any enterprise
has completed its digital transformation because I don’t think your transformation ever completes. It’s an evolution of new technology capabilities,
creating new opportunities for growth, for experience, for enterprise. So I think to actually reflect that you better
be well on the way to have survived, which is the undertone there. It is very real. And for ourselves, we’re 95% in the cloud. We’re platform powered. We’ve got half a million humans demanding
consumer-like services. We’ve invested a lot in transitioning and
pivoting to our current posture, which is much more modern than it used to be and the
evolution continues as well. So if that’s post-digital, it still feels
very real. It still sets the challenge in the next high
bar and I think that’s the nature of the message there. JASON WARNKE: That’s right. So carrying on from that. From your perspective, in the role of the
CIO, what impact can the trends have on your role and your team’s role in the work that
the IT organization is doing? ANDREW WILSON: I think the trend that strikes
me most, that gives me that North Star for being CIO at Accenture is Trend 3, Human +
Worker. The idea that the workforce has evolved, the
way of working has evolved, the demands of that workforce have evolved and the data that
both informs that workforce and allows that workforce to be productive and creative in
this modern age, there’s a huge potential there. Accenture as you know, Jason, is a human business. It’s our entire global capability. The irony of the post-digital era is the human
is more important than ever for driving and innovating in conjunction with technology,
in conjunction with AI. I have to serve that community. We have to serve that community. We have to keep it connected, creative, productive,
agile, mobile. And so, Trend 3, which encourages me to think
about, well, what’s the nature of the service proposition? What’s the nature of the experience? What’s the demand for that consumer-like
sticky environment that’s going to keep people both productive and happy in Accenture
wherever they are in the world? So very, very relevant. That’s just one example. JASON WARNKE: Yeah, the trend, I very much
agree with that. The trend that opens up the Tech Vision this
year is one very provocative statement, which is understanding the DNA of DARQ and it’s,
of course, an acronym. DARQ standing for Distributed Ledger, Artificial
Intelligence, Extended Reality, they borrowed R from reality in that one and Quantum Computing. You would on the surface level, look at this
and say, well, who’s doing anything with any of those technologies in today’s world,
in today’s enterprise? They’re, again, these future oriented thoughts. But I think, in many cases, and maybe in all
of these cases, this enterprise of Accenture is doing and putting in practice all of these
things. Is there anything in the DARQ power area in
particular that you wanted to highlight in terms of how we’re putting some of this
tech into practice? ANDREW WILSON: I think distributed ledger,
blockchain and also, AI, are very present here and now and not just in proof of concept. They’re scaling into production. So that’s back to my real point. So, AI has been talked about for years, perhaps
as cloud was. Cloud came of age, AI is definitely now of
age. It’s real. The non-human worker is here in force. We have to curate, train, guide, hire and
retire those non-human workers. We have to – perhaps they need a personnel
ID, perhaps they need to be performance managed, so we ensure that they stay accurate, real,
valuable and don’t atrophy in some way. So there’s a huge paradigm for operating
a non-human workforce there, which is very, very real. And there are hundreds of examples of where
AI is powering our services with predictive analytics, with insights at the point of need,
the human didn’t know they needed and didn’t ask for, but that is provided by the new services. And I think blockchain, we hear a lot about
blockchain don’t we? And we’re experimenting and scaling smart
contracts, where the service becomes the contracting vehicle, which I think plays well in the platform
economy, which is increasingly driven by consumption-based agreements. Why can’t the service be the contract? That really liberates the thought pattern
around what we spend our time on, how much effort and energy we put into commercials,
when just consuming it can be the contract. And I think there’s a huge play here where
digital identity comes to the floor and perhaps where your identity, you’re resume, your
credentials, your performance, your capability, your product, your outcomes, increasingly
are all stored in the blockchain. So in a manner that’s discoverable, in a
manner that helps you move around with an increasingly important digital identity in
the mobile world. Two, I think very real examples there. The one I do question in terms of whether
it’s real and certainly we are not yet doing anything as a CIO organization, is quantum. Quantum, I think is a little bit further away. I think it has huge, huge potential for the
way humans and human society will solve problems. But I think that one is a little bit further
out, back to the North Star. JASON WARNKE: Yeah, that’s right. I think at this stage, at least my opinion
on what enterprises should be doing with quantum is starting to think about the equations or
the problems or the algorithms that they want quantum, once available at scale, to solve. I think that’s what we should be thinking
about. I’m not sure if we can phantom that sort
of processing power that quantum can bring. And when you think about in an enterprise
of our scale or other ones that are consuming and processing large volumes of data, there’s
always this timeframe that you’ve got to deal with. It’s a very real thing that’s just part
of the flow of work. I think quantum opens up the possibility of
instantaneous compute for whatever tough problems are out there. So I think that’s what the Tech Vision talks
a lot about is making sure that you’re thinking about what problems you want quantum to solve. I definitely agree it is early. I want to turn focus because you mentioned
a few times the move to cloud and platform powered. I think it’s fascinating we’re certainly
seeing the next era for us is not move to cloud, it’s we’re there, it’s operate
in cloud and live in cloud. And one of the themes this year is around
how security is obviously, we’re ecosystem driven businesses these days and securing
the end points and securing the enterprise is crucially important. It’s something we put a lot of focus and
effort into. Can you talk a little bit about how that eco
– move to the cloud, the ecosystem play, the platform play, really makes us think differently
about security? ANDREW WILSON: Being 95% in public cloud and
powered by platform, Software as a Service, I think change is the goal of security, but
it’s actually a new force which enables an organization to be more secure than it
perhaps was in the old on-prem days. Jason, if we’d been having this conversation
two or three years ago, the Tech Vision which talked about platforms and talking about the
platform economy. And here we are getting back to that North
Star where we actually are what we were predicting back then. So platforms places an emphasis on any CIO
and any IT organization to make sure that the right security posture is maintained and
enhanced by the platform economy. There’s a few, I think basic fundamental
tenants there. Stay current. Platforms provide you the opportunity to consume
multiple releases in some case each year. All of the platform providers have a cadence
and a lexicon for their releases. There’s a huge amount of investment going
in, both in functions terms, but also in secure terms. So the single most important thing I think
any CIO organization has to do is stay current and that’s something we’ve reflected on
and has changed our operating paradigm from one of arguably functionality first to currency
first. By the way, with currency comes function when
you’re in the platform world. But I think the other dimension is then securing
the edge. I always think about it maintain the core,
secure the edge, with a series of things which candidly sound boring, like patching, like
security releases, all of the things which fundamentally if you are current at your edge. And we have well over half a million devices. It’s crucial to think about those two extremes
because then you have, I think, the bases for a very, very secure, but still effective
IT posture. And the threat vector is always going to rise. That central operating paradigm, I think is
crucial. And now, with the platform surfacing personal
data and insights and workforce data, the threat vector is even more. I mean we used to worry about your access
to central systems of record, but now we have data loads. Now we have cognizance engines joining things
up. The view of the human becomes that much richer,
but that much more vulnerable because of the nature and extent of the information recorded. That means the security bar has to be set
higher and I think that’s what we’re responding to, I think that’s what the market is seeing. JASON WARNKE: That’s great. Thanks for time today, Andrew. I’m going to leave with one last question
to you, which is these sorts of reports and vision statements from the various entities
and research firms come out and you and your team are inundated with them all the time. How do you take a report like Tech Vision,
which is just jammed packed with so much great insight and turn that into practical execution
on a team? What is your both personal way that you do
that and the way that you then distribute that approach or idea to your team? ANDREW WILSON: I think it helps inform my
role as a consultant to my business. And I think any CIO is a consultant to their
board and to their C-suite and to their business with a requirement to have a deep knowledge
and understanding of the business, of the enterprise, which they’re serving and the
ability to synthesize that with an understanding of the technology ecosystem for how’s increasing
opportunities to help them in terms of delivering new opportunities into those enterprises. So I read the Tech Vision, along with a number
of other data sources, to help me be an effective consultant, to help me condense, predict,
drive, debate and understanding, because every C-suite needs to have a technical appreciation. It can’t just sit in the role of one individual
on the C-suite. So the Tech Vision, I think, is comprehensible,
it’s bite sized. You made the point very effectively that we
have a series of modules that go into greater and greater depth. There’s a nice summary, perhaps appropriate
for board presentation. So CIOs need a language and they need a way
of bringing alive something which can be quite complex. And when you have a non-technical leadership
team, I think you need a vehicle like this and it helps for all of those reasons as well. JASON WARNKE: Very well said. And with that, we’ll close off. This is Jason Warnke, with Accenture CIO 24/7. Thanks for joining us today, Andrew. ANDREW WILSON: Thank you. SPEAKER: Thank you for joining today’s podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the Accenture CIO
Podcast Series on iTunes for all episodes.

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