May 10, 2018
Research in Action: How researchers with “superpowers” make innovation real at The Dock
By: Francis Hintermann and Eve Rya​n

At The Dock, Accenture’s global R&D hub located in the heart of Dublin’s tech quarter, Accenture Research’s findings on the nature of disruption are being embraced and acted on. We’re deploying the levers from our ongoing thought leadership program and ground-breaking book “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI” to enable Accenture’s clients to become the disruptors, not the disrupted.

Activities at The Dock purposefully take clients out of their comfort zone and turn up the dial on what innovation means to them in terms of new revenue opportunities.

Solving the research paradox

The paradox of research is that the elaboration of actionable insights is an increasingly complex activity. It relies more and more on big data sets and sophisticated algorithms, whereas most clients and media require simple, explainable short messages.

One way to solve that paradox is to bring researchers to the front line and open their machines and algorithms to clients in order to enable fruitful co-creation. That is the essence of the research work done at The Dock every day. Gone are the days of cardigan-wearing academics in isolated paper-strewn office. Most of our researchers at The Dock are millennials who wear jeans, sneakers and cool tee-shirts like their peers everywhere. They are attracted by work where they are paid to learn, again and again, relentlessly, and find meaningful trends in sea of noise. They are fully embedded in project teams and work in creative sessions with clients, just as all front-line staff do who have specific assets and expertise.

Our research on disruption, part of our apex messages work, is one example; we collaborate with teams to help clients solve this critical problem. We also employ the levers from our Winning Ways to help inform and guide targeted, data-driven research on niche problems in search of an innovative solution.

The Dock building inside

Equipping researchers with superpowers

Rest-in-peace secondary research—and long live combinatorial research!

The Dock building inside

Many job descriptions of researchers around the world still point to the old dichotomy between secondary research (using data already available in the public domain) and primary research (creating new data through surveys, interviews and so on). Researchers at The Dock have broken these silos to define new ways of researching through combinatorial approaches. They are developing AI-enhanced superpowers as they initiate machine-based research and combine this with human research approaches, such as design thinking and ethnography.

Data and insights from real-time surveys, financial analysis and economic modelling are combined to create actionable insights and diagnostic tools. An example is the one developed to support the “wise pivot” of companies toward Industry X.0. Other examples include healthcare tools and cybersecurity diagnostics.

Developing the future researcher now

The success of research isn’t found in a single eureka moment. The power of research at The Dock is that it is constantly developing and uncovering new trends and future ideas through a relentless focus on leveraging innovative tools and techniques. The latest investment is on “educating” robots: each researcher will have his or her own robot to bring the “human + machine” collaboration to the next level. Early results point to the possibility of exponential productivity gains, as well as creative new solutions to deep client issues.

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