One of the things that’s made all the difference to us in managing COVID-19 disruption has been that Accenture was already ahead of the game. The fact is, we had already started on a path to a fully in the cloud, platform-based business, with the security and standards that we needed to be resilient for the future. You could say COVID-19 has just been another (unwelcome but not derailing) milestone along the way.

As I continue to share our podcasts on how we are adopting a Living Systems approach, I thought you might be interested to hear about some of the fundamental areas that are working with my Global IT team to stay one step ahead of future business needs.

My colleagues Andrew Inchley and Eli Lambert were explaining to me recently how Finance and IT are working together to make strides in the SAP arena. Our global IT mission is to provide an enterprise platform that stays ahead of Accenture’s business needs—and SAP and the power of S/4HANA is a vital part of how we are getting there. Obviously, our business has become more complex as we have grown, but partnering, investing in the SAP platform, and staying secure has helped us maintain high standards and expanded our capabilities. As Andrew tells me: “We've got one global finance organization running consistent finance processes, explicitly aligned to our business strategy.” And the fact that we have one version of the truth built on that foundation of S/4HANA in the cloud means we can close our books efficiently in just six days globally. Find out how we’re going forward with this agile approach. As Eli sums up: “What's next for SAP at Accenture is a continuous innovation cycle to evaluate and experiment with these leading capabilities that will positively change the way we all work at Accenture.”

Cloud is proving its worth in terms of helping us scale up and down to meet business needs but it also helps when it comes to security. I was fortunate to have a conversation recently with two extraordinary leaders who are helping to protect the Accenture security posture. Kris Burkhardt and Simon Gooch shared insights on how we approach security at Accenture and how we keep our IT landscape secure in today's world of evolving threats. Kris told me how technical hygiene plays a key role, especially for the many thousands of assets the company holds and who owns them. “When it comes to cloud, we have more than 300 controls that we measure on access, encryption and network posture to all of our cloud activities safe,” Kris says. Find out about the biggest risks ahead of us—and why we’re all responsible in an age of remote working. Hear the three simple things Simon suggests we do so that “you’re in a good position to focus on what you need to do for your company” to keep us safe and sound.

I like to think I am a “glass half full” kind of person so it was good to meet Margaret Smith recently who spoke to me about the impact of COVID-19 on our agile workplace. Margaret leads Accenture’s Geographic Services organization and joined with Melissa Summers, who heads up corporate technology and global IT, to discuss Accenture’s agile workplace and how we work together today. Margaret told me how we were able to get 95 percent of people working remotely during the pandemic and Melissa noted: “There was a tremendous increase in Microsoft Teams usage—such as a 640 percent increase in video minutes in a month—and it’s continued to rise since then.” These are just some of the IT responses we put in place and there’s more happening today. “We’ve got a very comprehensive return to office playbook,” says Margaret. She also acknowledged that there are many roles now working perfectly successfully at home—and personal connection matters. We all agreed that it’s absolutely necessary to have a strong and vibrant partnership between IT and various business areas to be truly able to respond, flexibly and quickly, and to innovate in our approaches. As Margaret sums up on partnering with Global IT: ”I’ve seen the magic of Accenture happen in front of me.”

Listen to all the latest episodes of our CIO 24/7 Living Systems podcast series. And there’s more to come. Stay tuned!

Penelope Prett

Chief Information Officer

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