For Accenture, the IT consulting giant with $31 billion in revenues, the going has not been easy, in an era of marked technology shifts. The company, which in 2015 had 1.3 lakh employees in India, is now shifting gears, leaning its consulting workforce more towards areas such as digital, IoT to compete with t TCS and Infosys for similar kinds of projects. In a conversation with BusinessLine , Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive, Accenture Technology Services, talks about the way the company is changing its business approach, skilling employees differently and making efforts to be more agile.

The whole IT industry now talks about innovation and the need to be agile. Are these things going beyond lip service?

Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to innovation. The whole IT services industry is undergoing a tremendous change today, driven largely due to increasing usage of technology in all walks of our lives. This means, there is a new way of delivering services in today’s industry. Already, over 80 per cent of the businesses that we talk to, are experiencing ecosystem disruption in one way or the other. In such a scenario, either they have to disrupt this market or they will get disrupted. So, they are left with no option but to innovate.

Has this thought permeated into large organisations, including yours?

In India, the IT industry predominantly focused on industrialisation in the last two decades or so. It is basically industrialised delivery at scale. But today, what I see being more important is bringing innovation or innovation delivery because of automation. We call this rotation to the new shift. Everybody needs to rotate to the new to stay relevant in their business model. As per our context, rotation to the new is not only about bringing new services to business, but it is all about bringing new skillsets in people and new offerings.

When I talk to clients today, the conversations have changed. Earlier, it used to be about delivering on service agreements, number of people working on the project, etc. yesterday, I was talking to the CIO of a German company. He asked about how we can bring new IT to his organisation as the people there have old skill sets. So how we need to bring new IT and bring change is the kind of conversations we’re having with clients today.

But for innovation to happen in a large organisation, isn't scale a hindrance?

Many organisations do innovate and in fact, they can use scale to innovate better. You need to have the right innovation framework so that you can develop the right culture. In our innovation framework, the core of our innovation is led by our Accenture Technology Labs. We have these labs in San Jose , France, Beijing, Virginia and Bengaluru. The technology labs focus on various areas and specialisations. Our lab in Bengaluru has a focus on artificial intelligence and software engineering.

What does the team in Bengaluru focus on?

The team here focuses on the social changes that are happening in digital technology, in addition to research work. A significant advantage in our people is that they know the client’s industry and they know technology and thus stay relevant to the client.

When you say that it is not only about cost, with the kind of education imparted by engineering colleges, doesn't training continue to add to costs?

It is something that the whole industry is working on. We reach out to a large number of colleges and every year we decide a theme like cognitive computing, IoT and tell these students to come up with innovative ideas. When we started this five years back, we did not know the quality of innovation that would come from these students. As it matures, we are starting to see results. For example, last year, one more interesting idea that came was for speech-impaired people and people with hearing impairments. The team designed a digital solution that can help them to communicate. We have not restricted the programme to the colleges where we recruit from but we do this as a broad-based exercise. Internally, we have recognised innovations from 1,750 employees.