Accenture's internal operations automation journey
Accenture makes major investment in IT automation capabilities to advance to more intelligent and touchless IT operations and business efficiency.
Our global IT organization is applying the New now by transforming how our internal operations teams provide applications support to Accenture people through increased automation. The objective is to achieve more operational and business efficiency. Our strategy includes a quantum move toward intelligent automation and a longer-term vision to achieve pervasive touchless operations.
Our initial efforts with automation were informal, but early results were already automating standard and repetitive tasks and eliminating manual work. Recognizing the impact increasing automation could make on our internal operations, our challenge was to formalize our efforts and to drive a concerted global IT-wide intelligent automation program.
As we were starting from the ground up, we needed to define a structure and operating model, shape our processes, mobilize the appropriate skills and implement our strategy and approach. Our strategy is to undertake a transformation journey of Accenture’s internal operations activities, advancing along the automation maturity curve.
To have a common understanding across our global IT organization, we created a consistent definition of automation and its stages of maturity. We define intelligent automation as the combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) analytics with robotic process automation (RPA) supported by an end-to-end automation architecture, standards and frameworks.
Given the huge breadth of automation opportunities, platforms and technologies, we established an Automation Center of Excellence (COE) to focus and super-charge our efforts. Automation architects, machine learning developers, bot designers, robotic process automation experts, data scientists, DevSecOps specialists and others are tasked to develop tools and solutions for more than 900 Accenture applications. Global IT Operations Leads collaborate with their teams to identify relevant automation opportunities, using the guidance and assets from the Automation COE.
Efforts are organized through several workstreams, including discovery, business analysis, solution design and agile development. The Automation COE's goal is to innovate through research and proof of concepts and create assets that work across all business units. The scope covers core operational areas such incident management, service requests, monitoring, data patrolling, changes, testing and deployments.
To implement intelligent automation, our global IT organization's Automation COE team is carrying out a three-stage journey:
The first stage was to lay a foundational framework by enhancing processes according to industry-leading practices, improving data quality to enable automations and developing an intelligent automation platform. The guiding principle in this stage was to take an intelligent “shift left” focus, meaning a focus on prevention. We concentrated on eliminating waste, simplifying processes, implementing preventative remediation and building a foundational informational infrastructure. We assessed, targeted and prioritized processes across the delivery life cycle to be optimized and automated using techniques available. And we continue to do so.
An automation discovery team analyzes use cases to determine how to resolve operational issues through automation. We use scripts, macros, batch programs, mini bots, and other standard and custom solutions to automate standard and repetitive tasks. We have implemented several robotics processes extensively to automate repetitive and predictable tasks to eliminate several days of manual effort for operational activities.
In this stage, we are accelerating the adoption of intelligent automation and artificial intelligence. We are looking to expand our application of cognitive chatbots and intelligent bots for all possible processes and to focus on optimizing processes and preparing for a digital operations model. The vision is to create an AI/ML-powered robotic workforce to augment humans in operations to enhance user experience, improve quality and reduce operating expenditures.
Intelligent automation represents an evolved version of automation in which machines mimic human actions and possess cognitive capabilities, including natural language processing, speech recognition, computer vision technology and machine learning. Machines with automated intelligence comprehend vast amounts of data, analyze, understand and learn it on the go, and intelligently automate processes to bring in more operational and business efficiency.
Leading the innovation drive, Accenture developed and deployed multiple AI machine learning assets. Each asset involves AI analysis of tickets, provides recommendations and automatically resolves the tickets. These solutions are helping accelerate Accenture's touchless operations journey while improving speed and accuracy of ticket resolution.
Our vision of touchless operations is to disrupt and redefine internal operations. We are exploring ways to deploy highly intuitive solutions; use machine learning to predict events and recommend next-best actions; mature self-learning, self-healing capabilities and auto-resolution processes; and minimize human-engaged transactions. Our strategy will be to focus on guided solutioning through platform adoption, operating in the cloud, reflective intelligence, self-service offerings, interactive bots and gamification triggers.
Automation helps improve our internal operations productivity, quality, performance and user experience. It also helps to reduce manual work of global IT operations teams and enables employee careers to evolve to different roles that drive creative thinking and working with machines for problem solving. This evolution reflects a technology trend Accenture calls Human+ Worker, where workforces are becoming human+: each individual is empowered by their skillsets and knowledge plus a new, constantly growing set of capabilities made possible through technology. Companies must adapt the technologies that successfully created this next-generation workforce to support a new way of working in the post-digital age.
As the domain of information technology automation matures, so do Accenture’s capabilities, use cases and solutions. Our global IT organization’s Automation Center of Excellence (COE) is providing the required structure, governance and discipline around automation to achieve the business goals of more operational and business efficiency. The COE teams collaborate with IT Operations teams to identify improvements that will make the most impact efficiently and effectively. After optimization, teams build and deploy optimizations and automations with the results tracked and reported.
Accenture's intelligent automation journey is delivering value for global IT operations and Accenture people by:
Delivered 1,000+ automation programs over three years resulting in 35% cumulative savings in operational cost, enabling investment in new capabilities
Increased speed by enabling 40% of Accenture applications with automated technologies, driving greater efficiencies to deliver new business functions
Created additional resource capacity of more than 10% annually with greater workforce agility at scale, predictive insights and scalable solutions
Increased quality through reliable RPA and AI automation, reducing human intervention and errors