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Accenture CEO: Company’s ‘Evolving’ its Digital Business to Take Advantage of AI

Accenture is stepping up its efforts to take advantage of growing demand for new technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, according to CEO Pierre Nanterme.

“Given the increasing importance of artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning and other innovative technologies, we are evolving” the company’s Accenture Digital business “to be even more relevant to our clients and drive even greater differentiation in the marketplace,” he said Dec. 21 on an earnings call for the company’s first quarter (ended Nov. 30).

To that end, he said, “going forward, Accenture Digital will be focused on three big areas: Accenture Interactive, Accenture Industry X.0 and Accenture Applied Intelligence.” As part of the strategy, Accenture Interactive will work with CMOs to help brands “transform the customer experience,” he said, adding the company is “strengthening our end-to-end marketing capabilities for CMOs by investing to scale intelligent marketing operations.” That capability “combines platforms, analytics and artificial intelligence to run marketing campaigns as a seamless managed service,” he said.

Accenture X.0, meanwhile, will help clients “create smart, connected products and services using advanced technologies” including the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices and digital platforms, he said. As part of the strategy, Accenture is opening IoT innovation centers, including one near Munich where it’s already working with clients to “design and prototype digital solutions that will improve engineering, manufacturing and production,” he said, adding: “We plan to open new centers soon in the U.S. and Asia.”

Accenture Applied Intelligence “brings together the capabilities we have built in advanced analytics” and AI, he said, telling analysts: “Increasingly, we are embedding artificial intelligence into the core of our clients’ businesses, across every function and process.” The company is also “working with all the leading providers” of AI technologies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, “to bring the best solutions to our clients,” he said.

During the Q&A, he pointed out that new digital technologies and innovations are “coming extremely rapidly and so what we want is to make sure we stay ahead of the curve.” The Accenture analytics business has “good momentum,” and it’s adding AI and ML to “accelerate this momentum and accelerate growth,” he said.

His comments came as Accenture reported stronger Q1 results than it did a year ago. Total Accenture revenue grew 12% from a year ago, to $9.5 billion. Profit also grew 12%, to $1.2 billion ($1.79 a share) from $1.1 billion ($1.58 a share).

“We delivered strong and broad-based revenue growth across all dimensions of our business and gained significant market share once again,” Nanterme told analysts. Accenture is “seeing very strong demand for our services, particularly in digital, cloud and security” services, he said. Those three areas, which the company refers to as “The New,” accounted for about 55% of its total revenue in Q1, according to Accenture.

“Strong double-digit growth in digital, cloud and security continued to be the dominant driver of our growth” in Q1 and it was “pervasive across the business,” CFO David Rowland said.

The Q1 results “demonstrate that we continue to execute our strategy very well and have clearly benefited from the substantial investments we have made to build differentiated services and further enhance our competitiveness,” Nanterme told analysts, adding: “We have been particularly successful with Accenture Digital, nearly tripling the annual revenue from this business since we launched it four years ago.”