Setting the Course for Innovation

Learn more about Accenture's culture of innovation, the need for change, and how to wake up your innovator.

Author: Krzysztof Duda – Application Development Specialist

“Innovation” is one of those buzzwords you hear around different companies, websites, training courses. And like many different buzzwords, its meaning is slowly fading away. I would like to explain to you how we understand the concept of innovation at Accenture Advanced Technology Center Poland.

When we talk about innovations at Accenture ATC Poland, we mean three areas:

Firstly, we are thinking about experimenting with new technologies – to understand them and to find ways how to turn them into feasible business offerings for our clients. The tech market is developing at high-speed and we need to keep up with it. We need to change with it, to make sure we remain competitive and able to offer what our clients need. Very often it’s about anticipating their needs, so since we don’t have a crystal ball (or at least not one that would work), we need to make it the hard way – through learning.

Secondly we mean building a learning culture amongst our employees which results directly from the first area. To be able to deliver solutions using the latest tech, we need to have the right people to do it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – the biggest problem with new technologies is, they don’t put them in the college curriculum (until they’re no longer new). And to make it even worse - it’s not only about tech skills, because you also need to be able to navigate in unknown territory, be able to deliver a project without design blueprints or a set of good practices, because there are no practices yet. It requires again a specific set of soft skills. We need to train our people to be able to work with complex emerging projects, using agile frameworks and sometimes working like startup.

Thirdly we think about creating a safe environment to make the two other things happen. Innovation is the answer to the question of how we can research new technologies and turn them into solutions for customers. How can we test them and create new offerings? How to encourage our teams to keep a constant focus on upskilling? How can we make those competencies sustainable?

We have created a complex innovation program, using different activities to approach the 3 challenges. The backbone of course is the engagement of our employees. No program can work without people. At Accenture Advanced Technology Center Poland, we have created several activities aimed at upskilling and training innovation leaders in our team:

Flicker – a program allowing teams of employees to work on a personal project during company time. The teams are qualified based on the quality of their goals and the feasibility of their idea. The projects can take up to 2 weeks and are finished by a public presentation on ATC Poland forum.

Innovation Contests – one of the ways how Accenture tries to trigger innovation is through innovation contests organized on both local and global level. Each contest focuses on resolving specific business challenges related to technology and innovation. The best projects are pushed for further development to builds prototypes for further review and the best teams are awarded prices and recognition.

Hackathons – hackathons are a popular way of engaging people into learning challenges. Our employees are encouraged to build teams and compete in these events, as we know they’ll not only be able to develop new skills, but also create interesting ideas we can continue working after the event, as we did with the winning projects from the participants of our AI Hackathon. We participate actively in both local and global hackathons not only as team members, but also as experts, helping others develop and learning from their ideas and way of working.

Internal projects – the best way to learn a new technology is to try and build something with it – and that’s what we do. We engage our teams in building working prototypes in the areas we want to explore and we use those prototypes to find out what our clients would like to use them for. A win-win situation with some additional engagement and creativity.

Learning boards, seminars and webinars – no program would be complete without a variety of different learning activities. At Accenture providing learning opportunities and “food for thought” is key and we are using every opportunity to do it. Learning boards are sets of curated learning content, which can be viewed at your own pace and desired time. Interested to develop skills regarding Blockchain or AI? There are multiple resources you can use. Additionally, in our team we have many colleagues willing to share their knowledge during one hour- seminars and webinars, which not only give knowledge, but help you meet other people, who share your interest.

Guilds & Communities – as mentioned people are the backbone of innovation, so we are actively building a community of leaders and innovators, who fuel our program with ideas and challenges. We also support other communities gathered around such interests as Agile, Java Programming and others, because “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” [Agile Manifesto].

This is how at Accenture we are setting the course for innovation. Aware of this phenomenon and advantages it gives to the clients and industries, we intent to keep this course of action on track.

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