Accenture re-skills thousands of staff with AI boom ahead

28 June 2019 2 min. read

As artificial intelligence (AI) and automation make their way into business operations in India and across the world, global management consultancy Accenture has begun to optimise this scenario by training its staff in other domains. As many as 17,000 people in Accenture have been trained in a new skill profile.

Concerns around the advent of AI and its effects on jobs across the globe have been a central topic of discussion in recent years. Most believe that the gradual automation of an increasing number of tasks is likely to make a number of employees redundant, and lead to a severe loss of jobs.

Others believe that jobs will not disappear as a result of automation, but will change in profile. Optimising the potential of AI requires working in collaboration with machines, a job that entails a new breed of skills altogether. Over the next five years, one in ten jobs are expected to be of entirely new descriptions.

Accenture appears to be embodying the latter vision of working in collaboration with machines. Automation has made its way through the firm’s operations and has taken over a number of key tasks in the company. So far, as many as 17,000 jobs have been made redundant within the organisation.

Accenture re-skills thousands of staff with AI boom ahead

Nevertheless, these redundancies have not translated into a loss of jobs at the firm. Speaking at the Next big Thing event organised by ZDNet in Sydney, Accenture’s Analytics Delivery Leader for the Asia Pacific region and AI Delivery leader Amit Bansal explained the current scenario at the firm.

Speaking on the 17,000 redundancies, Bansal said, “but those 17,000 people we actually re-trained because it gave us more capacity ­– we didn't have to go and hire a whole bunch of people ...  these automated processes gave us more scale.” He went on to explain how this scale is achieved.

“What we found if you do a chatbot and you do it well, the volume actually goes up, the customer satisfaction goes up, and what we did in that scenario was the people that were taking phone calls, we trained them in AI and what they do is when the chatbot can't answer a question, it deflects to that individual, that individual then solves the problem talking to a human,” he said.

Accenture has the resources to drive scale of this magnitude, given that the firm’s operations in the Indian market have been growing rapidly in recent years. The firm has gradually eaten into the market share of some of India’s largest IT services firms through targeted investments.