Accenture MD recommends a shift in expertise for consultants

02 August 2018 4 min. read

As the expectations from the consulting industry shift from the mere delivery of set services to a more innovative and groundbreaking approach, Senior Managing Director at Accenture, Mohan Shekhar, believes that it is time for consulting professionals to accumulate specialised expertise in contemporary fields such as IoT, blockchain and artificial intelligence. 

The consulting industry across the globe currently has one challenge in common – that the operational support they previously provided is now losing relevance. The pace of advancement in the contemporary market has caused a scenario wherein the enlistment of external help is only considered worthwhile if it ensures sustained competitiveness for a firm.

This is particularly true for the IT services domain, where progress is a million miles a minute. Indian IT services giant Wipro, for instance, has struggled with waning business in recent years, as their roster of services was predominantly in the domain of IT architecture and maintenance – services that are becoming increasingly feasible to manage internally.

Nevertheless, Wipro has now taken action by reorienting itself towards digital innovation and business advisory services, and has managed to dig itself out of the challenging situation to exceed all expectations. Infosys is currently implementing a similar strategy to develop its digital services arm. Accenture MD Mohan Shekhar advocates a similar reorientation for the entire consulting industry.

Speaking in reference to Accenture’s own experience with this scenario, Shekhar said, “Till five years ago, we were known as the India Development Centre, good delivery people to work with. We had to change the DNA of the company into an innovation-led organisation.”

Accenture MD recommends a shift in expertise for consultants

The best way to do this, according to Shekhar, is to shift the nature of talent available in the organisation, moving beyond traditional experts in business, delivery and management to further incorporate industry 4.0 knowledge. This would not only involve a different lens when recruiting new professionals, but also efforts on the part of existing employees to understand the world of tech. 

Accenture’s India outfit hosts over a third of its global 440,000-strong workforce, and most of these professionals have been encouraged to delve into the domains of AI, blockchain and Internet of Things. “ The generalist management cadre has got wiped out in Accenture in the last few years. We needed an innovation culture, subject matter experts. We told our people that they have to be closer to the tech industry domain,” says Shekhar. 

Describing what a potential innovation-driven approach to projects would look like, Shekhar says,” Every client delivery should have an innocation lead and an automation lead. The innovation lead’s job is on two dimensions – focus on solving business issues for a client and/or give them a competitive advantage.”

The strategy consulting firm has spent a considerable amount of time and money in the last year incorporating principles of this precise nature, establishing a large-scale innovation hub in Bengaluru, designed for innovative experiments and learning in the digital services arena.

By the end of the last fiscal year, the firm had invested nearly $1 billion just in the training and professional development of its employees, which has already produced tangible results. Alongside a spike in participation in the ideation process, Accenture’s revenues form the digital services segment grew by 30% last year to a total value of $18 billion, or 50% of its total revenues.