Challenge

A large U.S. federal agency ensures the safety of American government workers overseas and provides services to expedite business operations. To support these efforts, its employees use an integrated logistics management system, the backbone of the agency’s global supply chain. Every year, $10 billion worth of purchases are ordered, procured, delivered and tracked through the system. The program pioneered innovation at the agency, paving the way for cloud computing and automation. After years of success with the program, the agency set out to reimagine what the next generation supply chain system might look like. It envisioned one where system advances would rival commercial industry counterparts and support the evolving needs of stakeholders. Considering the pace of change during the last ten years, the agency knew it needed to innovate even faster over the next ten.

What Accenture did

The agency and Accenture came together to create an Innovation Hub, a dedicated space at the Accenture Federal Digital Studio, optimized to foster innovation and continually bring emerging capabilities forward. The Hub enables the agency to ideate, design and test disruptive, boundary-pushing ideas—including artificial intelligence (AI), optical character recognition (OCR) and next generation UI/UX. Among the ideas that have so far been selected and quickly advanced into prototypes is the agency’s first-ever AI-powered chatbot for Help Desk inquiries. Another is a piece of scanning equipment with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities that “reads” the information on the thousands of letters and packages that go through the agency’s internal post office. And, finally, the procurement portal prototype smooths interactions with outside vendors that sell products and services to the agency.

People and culture

The Innovation Hub fostered a safe space for clients to test bold ideas and make them come to life by working alongside the agency in an R&D lab powered by the Digital Studio, with minimal financial investment. The cultural change sparked by the Innovation Hub is a renewed emphasis on agility, innovation, and co-creation from inside the organization. A joint team of agency employees and Accenture experts work together, using human-centered design to solve for customer needs from start to finish. The Innovation Hub has allowed the agency to focus on its mission as it transforms. Plus, the Hub creates a constant flow of ideas by drawing from Accenture’s vast resources and innovation ecosystem of thought leaders, industry experts, designers and partners. The Hub has even inspired other federal agencies, spreading a culture of innovation throughout government.

Value delivered

By sparking innovation and bringing it to life quickly, the Innovation Hub is vastly improving the system, which in turn improves the lives of people doing critical work around the globe. The customer base of roughly 200,000 comprises not just personnel, but also their families, and the network of businesses and organizations that work with the agency. The agency is continuing to expand the ethos and capabilities of the Innovation Hub on the road, hosting co-creation sessions with clients and customers around the world. No longer a single prototyping shop, it is an innovation multiplier. Whether the Innovation Hub is at work in Washington, DC, halfway around the world or virtually, it prioritizes bringing together new ideas and cutting-edge technologies in the most human way possible.

Whether the Innovation Hub is at work in Washington, DC, halfway around the world or virtually, it brings together new ideas and cutting-edge technologies in the most human way possible.
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