Artificial intelligence (AI) still plays a relatively minor role in Accenture’s brimming arsenal of technology products and services, but the company is seeing an increasing amount of interest from clients in the maturing technology.
Accenture has made great strides over the past several years to make the transition from being merely one of the world’s largest consulting firms into a multi-disciplined professional services company that encompasses digital services, technology, operational services and, of course, consulting.
In the expanding range of technology solutions the company employs to help solve its clients’ problems, AI still plays second fiddle to some of the more widely-used options, such as cloud-based enterprise software or outsourced data services.
But according to Accenture’s operations lead for Australia and New Zealand, Jordan Griffiths, AI is becoming an increasingly popular topic for clients, with the technology set to pave the way for some big changes among enterprises over the coming years.
“AI is growing,” Griffiths told ARN. “There’s a lot of interest, which is great. It’s still at quite an early stage, however; it's in the incubation stage.
“It’s fair to say that in the corporate world, AI isn’t mature, but there are some really good examples of it being used in bespoke areas.
“Right now it’s not a huge part of my business. But it will be in a year’s time, two years’ time; I would expect it to be growing, and we are getting a lot of interest from our clients about it now."
According to Griffiths, automation has played a part in Accenture’s services portfolio for a long time, and the evolution of AI in the company's offering has emerged from this background, with the growing demand for process automation playing a big role in how AI is being employed.
“[AI] is going to be part of the service offering, and it’s going to be more relevant for certain activities,” he said.
“The areas of a business’s operation that are knowledge work, or repeatable, AI can go in and figure those out, leverage all the analytics and data much faster than a human can. I think AI will play a huge role in that.”
Accenture is doing much of its automation work through the use of mini-bots, which can handle small, single-task transaction automation.
When many of the bots are put together, the can combine to create a consistent end-to-end process, according to Griffiths.
As for the AI and learning involved in automated processes, Griffiths points to the use of so-called cogni-bots which, like mini-bots can be combined in numbers to learn and work together.
“Then we have Artificial intelligence,” Griffiths added.
From Griffith’s perspective, up until a few years ago, AI was still very much in the scientific and university spheres.
Today, however, Accenture works closely with its ecosystem partners like autonomic and cognitive technology company, IP Soft, to collaborate on “proper” AI,
This capability, according to Griffiths, is helping Accenture to recognise business problems from a customer's perspective.
“These things are real, and they’re live, and we use them for our clients,” Griffiths added.
"The benefit of them lies in solving the client’s problem, which is often about improving customer experience, eliminating and reducing cost, or providing an adjunct to a new service.
“AI plays a crucial role in that because it provides new experiences, and a better experience in terms of getting a customer problem solved faster."