It’s hard to believe that we migrated to Microsoft Teams across Accenture for all our audio and video conferencing less than a year ago. Especially since 2020 has been a year like no other so far. Accenture is one of the largest Teams users in the world at a time when teamwork has never been so important—or so difficult. As we all keep our physical distance from each other, and our clients, I feel like our move to the sharing platform Teams was perfectly timed to position us to be more collaborative and productive.

Our rapid take up of the tool speaks for itself: one billion audio minutes, 498 million chat messages and 90 million videoconference minutes in a month gives an idea of the massive scale of our use. Having a chat-centered collaboration platform that brings together collections of people, content and tools to get things done fulfils our mission to be an elastic digital workplace. We chose Teams so that we could stretch it’s capabilities the full. We wanted it to support our cloud-first way of working, inspire a collaboration as-a-service model and foster a secure, next-generation, user-centric approach. In short, we want to keep finding new ways to apply Teams that will raise eyebrows even from its own developer, Microsoft.

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A personalized service

There are all kinds of barriers to getting the most out of new technologies. Some technologies fail to follow the natural flow of how people converse and share. Digital workers have ever-shortening attention spans. Multiplying consumer and enterprise apps compete for “eyeball time”. Each new browser has the opportunity to create friction in the form of logins, or take the user down a rabbit hole of distraction. Basic transactions often take longer than they should. And disjointed processes across business functions and applications can leave people confused.

As its name suggests, Teams brings together services and people to arrive at a destination of natural, real-time collaboration. It supports the business by offering resilient security and compliance, cloud file storage and a single hub for applications. And it supports a next generation of digital workers who are looking for modern products that are convenient, easy to use—and fun. In a Teams experience survey updated in September 2020, 642 Accenture people were asked if they preferred to use Teams to communicate rather than e-mail. More than 600 respondents ranked Teams at 4.48 out of a “strongly agreed” score of 5, with one user declaring: “"It's my favorite tool, brings everything I need to be productive in one place... I have transformed the way my team works now."

It’s not a race with a finish line

My role in global IT includes being responsible for Teams and the overall digital experience and I’m continually looking for opportunities to bring extra services and create even more team wellbeing. And we draw on the benefits of human+machine to make that happen. Here’s some of the more than 30 Teams-based applications that we’re rolling out—with more on the horizon:

  • CALM (CAL + Machine): An independent app embedded in Teams that is specifically targeted at delivering in-context insights, such as financial filings or Twitter news, to our Client Account Leads (CALS). Native Teams functions are available from every CALM notification to streamline collaboration and reduce e-mails.
  • @Accenture bot: An Accenture universal bot is now pinned to the left rail of all employee's left nav bar in Teams. This bot launched with a rich Q&A experience, but quickly evolve to be an employee’s digital twin that can start to assist them with rich context on topics at point of need.
  • Accenture Pilot: One of my all-time favorites for speed and simplicity, this app can be used to quickly look up Accenture people.

Teams continues to make it easier for all of us to co-create and collaborate. We have the MyTechHelp bot deployed as an interim solution, and we will shortly 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 have published apps and starter kits for our new Human Capital Management platform, Workday.

By modernizing our way of working using Teams, I believe we can not only bring the data, insights and services to where our people work, but also put the tools in their hands to live a truly cloud native life.

Karen Odegaard

Managing Director – Global IT, Technology Platforms

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