Accenture’s hackathon, early digital entry pay off

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on July 27, 2018 Published on July 27, 2018

With over a 1,000 ideas for competitive advantage coming from its employees and increasingly relying on Intellectual Property (IP), Accenture is trying to stay ahead of competitors such as TCS and Infosys.

Four years back when Accenture started its hackathon, many employees saw it as an exercise to keep up with the Joneses — the start-ups. In the first edition, of some 2,000 ideas,only a select few went live.

Beneath the smooth surface, however, the Accenture management had decided to steer the ship in a different direction, with a strategic shift. Till then, Accenture, like it competitors, took outsourcing projects to deliver from locations in India, at cheaper costs.

However, in fiscal 2015, it decided to change tack. “Five years back we projected that this digital wave is going to have huge impact, and we aligned our strategy accordingly,” said Mohan Sekhar, Senior Managing Director and Lead — Accenture Advanced Technology Centres.

Ideas galore

This meant not just relying on excel sheets but proactively discussing the pain areas of its clients. Flash forward to 2018 and the hackathon has seen around 40,000 ideas generated and around 1,000 will go into live projects.

The road to this change was challenging, and experts like Kris Lakshmikanth, CEO, Headhunters India, believe that Accenture’s acquisitions to get talent or technology along with home-brewed ideas have propelled it to the top. Sekhar pointed out that an oil and gas major, which had never looked at blockchain to improve efficiencies of its supplier network, after a year of prototyping its solution, decided to award the deal to Accenture. “The idea came from an employee,” he said.

Accenture has also created an architecture which has components including research on both industry and technology-related topics, in conjunction with its venture arm. But the crucial area where it believes it has a differentiated proposition has to do with 30 design labs around the globe — from Brazil to Australia. In 2017, Accenture spent $1 billion in acquiring companies in digital, cloud and security-related domains.

The proof of the pudding can be seen from its third- quarter results. It increased its fiscal 2018 guidance in constant currency to 9.5-10 per cent, higher than all the Indian software exporters.

Published on July 27, 2018
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