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September 26, 2019
My innovation journey
By: Luke Higgins

When Luke joined Accenture as a grad 15 years ago, he never dreamed he’d end up with a patent to his name. His passion to work at the forefront of emerging technologies has helped him both create IP for the business and build a brilliant young team of future innovators.

I never really saw myself as an inventor, but I’ve always been fascinated by future technology horizons. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to second guess where developments will go next and work in emerging areas.

Long before iPhones, I thought mobility would be a big thing, so I signed up to work on an opportunity in mobile TV for a large telco. We built one of the first mobile streaming platforms, which worked on older, small-screen mobile phones.

More than a decade ago, my team and I wrote a white paper on automation and analytics and floated it past Gene Reznik, Accenture's global Chief Strategy Officer. He asked us to build a base platform, which was eventually brought into myWizard and that’s when I met my boss, Rajendra Prasad, our Global Automation Lead.

Ideating with my team Ideating with my team

How does it work?

myWizard harvests IP from the best people in the world from around Accenture. The whole thing is like a giant app store that all our clients benefit from. Accenture teams contribute the assets and accelerators they build, and the best are offered to everyone as reusable solutions.

We were looking at a situation where, in a big company, an IT helpdesk might need to resolve hundreds of thousands of issues. At that size, classifying and resolving issues manually is impossible. Rajendra and David challenged us to invent an ‘automatic ticket manager’ that could use machine learning to make decisions and automate service requests.

You have to remember, this was five years ago – long before AI became mainstream. But my team and I figured out how to deliver what they wanted. We built a prototype the market loved – and then we evolved it as we got feedback from our client accounts around the world. Today, it's been deployed in a large number of Fortune 100 companies.

An Oxfram walk I did with my wife and two of my Accenture teammates An Oxfram walk I did with my wife and two of my Accenture teammates

Writing the patent was hard

It takes 3+ years to get a patent approved and then it can last for a decade. So you have to describe what your thinking today will look like tomorrow, enabled by technology that doesn't yet exist! You have to be specific enough to protect your idea, yet take into account all the different directions it might take.

It was hugely challenging, but we made it through with a massive team effort. So I want to say a big thank you and congratulations to my fellow inventors in Australia, India and England: Krupa Srivastava, Vijayaraghavan Koushik, Rajendra T. Prasad, VijayChandar Natesan, Rajesh Pappu, Chetan Kumar Baikady, David Golding, Leon Whine, Raanan Zion, Sunder Sankararaman, Krishna Kumar, Dorai Rangarajan, Radhu Selvaraj, Lakshmi Paramasivam, Udayakumar Nagarajan, Parvatha Narayanan, Chandrasekhar Athinarayanan, Senthil Kumar Venugopal and Srinivasan Rangaswamy.

Hosting students at our recent hackathon Hosting students at our recent hackathon

Finding our next team of inventors

To help industrialise our invention capability, I’ve built my team like a start-up. To find the best young minds, I supervise PhD theses and speak at unis. In the last few years, I’ve talked to about 8,000 students, telling them what we’re doing and inspiring them to join us. My approach to leadership is to teach people from the ground up. This has helped us attract a broader range of people, including very talented women who provide us with some really diverse thinking. To work with us, you don’t need a detailed coding background. We’re looking for the right attitude, high curiosity, a passion for technology and the focus and grit to see things through. And who knows, one day maybe you’ll get your name on a patent too!

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