MUMBAI: Paul Daugherty, chief technology & innovation officer in Accenture, the world’s fastest growing major IT services company, says we are entering a post-digital world where a new stack of technologies is becoming relevant and where building trust is becoming crucial. He says artificial intelligence (AI) is an integral part of the new tech stack. In an interview with TOI, Daugherty says if you look at AI as an impact on bottom line and cost, you would miss the opportunity — the big impact of AI would be on top line and growth.
AI has emerged as the holy grail of digital transformation. The commentary suggests a fair degree of AI-readiness among IT firms, but along with that, the lines of differentiation are blurring...
We are entering a post-digital era. About 94% of organisations say they are doing digital and $1.1 trillion is spent on digital transformation. If everybody is doing the same omni-channel digital work, how do you differentiate yourself going forward? We have come up with distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing, or DARQ, as the new stack of tech for today’s world. DARQ
is the new SMAC
(social, mobile, analytics, cloud). As an industry, if you’re just focused on digital, you can get left behind. AI, like any other invention, is a tool that enables us to do things more effectively. How often do you do a talent-refresh?
We invest $1 billion a year in training people. A very large percentage of our people are trained in AI and digital. The single best investment you can make in AI is investing in your people. Not enough firms have been doing that. We did a survey last year. About 80% of 6,500 executives who participated were India-based executives and a large number of them said their workforce wasn’t ready for AI. If your workforce isn’t ready and there’s zero investment, you’ve got a big problem. In our experience, you can’t hire people with these new skills as the roles are changing too fast. And if you don’t train them yourself, you could be stuck. That’s what is happening to other companies. The bigger challenge across businesses is 90% of jobs will change because of AI. 50% of those jobs will change significantly and how do you deal with people whose jobs are transforming because of AI? Every company needs to invest in learning platforms. If you’re not getting your own people ready, you won’t be able to fire them and hire new people. The job markets will not create them fast enough. The old-world infra skills are back in vogue...
Infrastructure is coming back for a few reasons. We have 5G coming which will accelerate the ‘edge’ architecture in computing. Then you have AI being powered not by commoditised cloud and data centre computing but GPU. We are getting into a world where infrastructure will become strategic again. We have set up a core group called infrastructure cloud group to capitalise on the opportunity in infra networks, digital workplace, and IoT architecture and bring all this together. You have been speaking about trust as a strategic advantage...
Trust is important because the fundamental nature of delivering tech has changed. Think about implantable tech. Think about how Walmart
is experimenting with Key, in-fridge delivery to deliver goods not on your doorsteps but into your home. They are changing what’s in your shelf. Those are valuable services you and I will sign up for. But we need to trust those companies before they deliver those services. A lot of companies talk about trust as privacy and as an obligation. But that’s the baseline. Trust is a strategic advantage compared to competitive differentiation going forward. How has Accenture India’s delivery engine transformed from the ADM (application development & maintenance) days to understanding digital solutioning?
We have viewed India as a capability centre and not as cost advantage. We are pooling in the best global talent to apply to problems. In an era where we have shortage of skills in ML and AI, what’s the best place to develop digital skills, and in my opinion, India is the best place given the education and the talent base. You need India as a key part of global capability and talent infrastructure.