Call for change

Enabling our global workforce of hundreds of thousands of employees around the world to be fully empowered to work seamlessly is crucial to the services we at Accenture deliver. Our people need leading capabilities to unleash their ingenuity to help clients harness change with technology. And, we need to be conscious of our impact on the environment as we do it.

To address this need, our global IT organization has been implementing a program of enabling employees with cloud-based capabilities, leading applications and tools, collaboration capabilities and mobile apps that provide expanded options to work from anywhere on any device with consistent functionality and experiences.

At the core of our program is Microsoft 365 including Office applications, Teams, OneDrive for Business, Exchange and SharePoint, supported by several security products. These products and services keep our organization productive anywhere, whether working remotely at home or at client sites. Getting to this point involved migrating from legacy on-premise environments, moving to the cloud and building new capabilities on our foundation.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Enabling Microsoft 365 for any company is a unique process. For Accenture, typically an early adopter, our journey was based on embracing leading technology to transform how we work. We moved to the cloud at a time when cloud-based offerings were just emerging, optimized for scale and speed, and focused on employee productivity.

Once in the cloud, we put the fundamental capabilities in place. As Microsoft services matured, we implemented a series of subsequent transformations that supported our digital worker vision and elastic workplace strategy. These included projects that achieved Accenture-wide scale and speed as well as the adoption of new security features.

A key enabler of our digital worker vision is OneDrive for Business. Cloud storage lets employees access files regardless of the device they are using. Access is available through company-provided PCs and personal devices, including tablets and mobile phones using Microsoft’s Intune mobile application management (MAM) solution. OneDrive also played a role in our innovative In-Place Upgrade tool that accelerated Accenture’s deployment of Windows 10 at scale.

Accenture employees now take advantage of capabilities that include Teams, OneDrive for Business, Power BI, Planner, Power Apps, Power Automate and others as they are released. These capabilities support Accenture’s digital worker vision of providing capabilities that are integrated and seamless, increase productivity and enable employees to work from anywhere, anytime, and do it sustainably.

“As companies, including Accenture, face change in our world, it creates an opportunity to reimagine their organizations with Microsoft technologies to transform how people work.”

— KAREN ODEGAARD, Managing Director – Global IT, Digital Worker Technology, Accenture

Forging future value

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.

Lessons learned

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.

A valuable difference

Accenture is experiencing the value of Microsoft 365 in many ways. Most notably, Microsoft 365 offers leading ways of working, enabling Accenture people to do their jobs efficiently and effectively—all at massive enterprise scale. In addition, a cloud-based approach enables easy activation of new capabilities and internet-based Office connectivity. OneDrive for Business gives our people new productivity features they want, improves our security posture, reduces our environmental footprint and enables cost savings.

By positioning Accenture in the cloud, we have been able to seamlessly scale and be secure at the same time—with no concerns about infrastructure capacity. This was the case as Accenture doubled in headcount with the addition of 250,000 employees over several years and did not experience any scale issues. This transformation has allowed us to grow our business, be more productive and confirm that we can still meet our ambitious environmental commitments.

It was also the case when the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. We were able to swiftly respond and transition our business to one where our people work from home. Already among the world’s largest users of Teams, Accenture’s Teams volume grew four-fold. And, it happened for the most part seamlessly without disruption.

As with most IT initiatives today, our efforts are ongoing. We continue to enhance services that add value and further enable Accenture’s digital worker vision that Microsoft 365 enables.

Microsoft 365 outcomes as of December 2020:

25%

Savings on Exchange and SharePoint costs, a combination of infrastructure and operations savings

45%

Savings per user moving to lower-cost software profiles with browser-based versions of Office

538K

Workstations deployed

2.9B

Files stored in OneDrive for Business

10PB

Of data in OneDrive for Business

108M

Teams video minutes/month

537K

Mailboxes

10.1K

SharePoint sites

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