Today, we are building on the foundational Microsoft 365 capabilities we have put in place and driving further value from our investments by adding new capabilities and enhancing the digital experience. We have pivoted to performing ongoing releases versus implementing major upgrades.
Initiatives we are undertaking include:
Expanding Teams as a platform. We are expanding Teams from a chat and conferencing tool to a digital cockpit where work gets done by bringing more custom and third-party application integrations directly into Teams. For example, our people can embed Power BI reports and Planner to-do’s in Teams. They can use custom apps, such as CALM (CAL + Machine) that delivers in-context insights, such as financial filings or Twitter news, to our Client Account Leads (CALS). Another app is Accenture Pilot for quickly looking up Accenture people. We have rolled out 30 apps to date, with more planned.
We are also planning to launch a full AI-driven support experience that handles all employee support requests via our ServiceNow integration. We’re also integrating Salesforce into Teams to enable stronger collaboration with clients and provide customer insights. And, we have published apps and starter kits for our new Human Capital Management platform, Workday. In short, our aim with Teams is to create a single, consolidated place to work.
Developing a bots ecosystem. We are empowering Accenture teams to develop custom bots to provide relevant information at the time of need without leaving Teams while at the same time establishing the necessary governance to protect and improve the end-user experience. Our Ask @Accenture bot, for example, is an Accenture universal bot pinned of all employees’ left navigation bar in Teams. This bot launched with a rich Q&A experience, but quickly evolved to be an employee’s digital twin that can start to assist them with rich context on topics at point of need.
Our COVID-19 Response Bot was used to automatically check in daily with more than 90,000 employees who had quickly pivoted to working from home. It checked on their technology enablement status and initiated assistance for laptop, internet connection or other technology issues.
Enabling citizen app development. To help meet the growing demand for app-based solutions, we are putting more power in the hands of users by deploying low/no-code platforms such as Power Apps and Power Automate and establishing the required governance. This option is intended to reduce shadow IT, accelerate time to market and increase the productivity of individuals and teams. Non-IT Accenture “citizen developers” will have the freedom to develop their own applications with no or minimal writing of code while remaining in compliance with legal and security requirements.
Analytics. As these tools become a greater part of how employees get work done, analytics hold the potential to provide insights to the individual (e.g., “MyAnalytics”). Analytics can help shed light in knowing what ways of working are most effective, where to focus change and adoption efforts, and how to identify and address potential burnout through wellness initiatives.
Artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML). We are taking advantage of the power of Microsoft Graph combined with AI and ML to make employees more productive through capabilities like surfacing key documents at time of need, automating workflows through intelligent content processing, and enhancing search capabilities by using tools like Delve and SharePoint Syntex.
Security. Microsoft 365 provides a single, integrated platform to enable a more holistic approach to security. We are using multiple security products including Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender for O365, Data Loss Protection (DLP), and Advanced Threat Analytics, among others. These tools help protect Accenture from malicious attacks, provide advanced monitoring and analytics to identify and investigate potential threats, and provide end-to-end visibility and controls across the full suite of Microsoft 365 products. They minimize the need for individual third-party security tools that are typically limited to individual products (e.g., email).
Environmental Sustainability. A key benefit of working with the Microsoft 365 product suite is the opportunity it presents to run our business sustainably. Through central policies and product features, we are able to limit data growth and in turn minimize energy consumption from the hardware storing our data. Furthermore, as this data is stored in the cloud, we can rely on Microsoft’s commitment to using renewable energy and increased efficiency in its data centers to support our commitments to reduce our environmental footprint.
Through our experiences in deploying Microsoft, we have captured a few critical components an organization should have in place to manage the Microsoft 365 service effectively. These include:
- Plan with an eye toward the future to support what is now a quickly evolving platform.
- Have a team and processes in place to manage the ongoing rollout of updates and new features instead of planning large updates every few years.
- Have a focused change management approach to support employees along this journey. Technologies that introduce capabilities that foundationally change the way people work require company-wide change and adoption programs to ensure that new deployments are embraced. Through the various stages of Accenture’s Microsoft 365 journey, our global IT organization has applied leading and innovative approaches to engage our global workforce to adopt technology change.
- As the data privacy landscape evolves, seek guidance early and often for new products and features particularly for companies with a footprint in Europe.