Accenture acquires Arca to help clients unlock the full potential of 5G

Accenture has acquired Arca, a Spanish engineering services company with a focus on network operations and business services. Its 640 employees will join Accenture in Spain.

Arca provides multidisciplinary services for network operations — including activities to engineer, design, deploy, and manage telecom infrastructure — supported by an integrated platform that automates network monitoring, optimizes processes and predicts system anomalies.

The combination of these capabilities with Accenture’s SynOps platform will advance Accenture’s ability to help organizations pivot operating models to new sources of growth.

The acquisition will reinforce Accenture’s role as a key partner for the engineering, design, deployment and operation of network services —voice, data, video, fixed, mobile, 5G and IoT — for clients in the telecommunications, industrial, energy and infrastructure industries, among others.

It will also enhance the company’s network capabilities in Spain and Portugal, offering clients a comprehensive set of transformation services across 5G network deployment, engineering, operations and industry services.

“5G, cloud and edge computing will usher in a new wave of change and innovation for businesses,” said Domingo Mirón, who leads Accenture’s business in Iberia.

“To realize their full potential, companies must act now to adopt the right strategy and build new business solutions enabled by network investments. By harnessing Arca’s expertise, this acquisition will strengthen our ability to help clients accelerate their 5G Cloud network transformation from design through to deployment and operation.”

Manish Sharma, group chief executive of Accenture Operations, said “The transformation required for industrial sectors to modernize systems, processes, products and services will only be possible with deep expertise of the underlying networks that support these disruptive technologies.

“Arca’s vast experience with network services fully complements Accenture’s strategy of driving shared value with clients through the collaboration of human ingenuity and digital technology. Together, we will help clients adapt their operating model, expand the skills of their people and drive innovation to unlock the full potential of 5G.”

Founded in 1998, Arca has vast experience working with network operators, telco infrastructure services enterprises and other large companies to help them transform their business and processes and implement new communications technologies.

Arca also offers business services such as sales support, analytics, process assessment, provisioning and service assurance. The company has 14 offices across Spain including Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Sevilla, Vigo and Malaga.

“Our vision at Arca has always been to be a reliable partner on any type of telecommunications project and differentiate what we do by innovative processes, deep expertise and unparalleled talent,” said César Cid, Arca’s CEO.

“Joining Accenture will enable us to advance our successful journey exponentially, especially as we bring capabilities to a global scale and capitalize on the breadth and depth of Accenture’s expertise across nearly every industry and market.”

Exploring the prolific threats influencing the cyber landscape

Some of the world’s most skilled nation-state cyber adversaries and notorious ransomware gangs are deploying an arsenal of new open-sourced tools, actively exploiting corporate email systems and using online extortion to scare victims into paying ransoms, according to a report from Accenture.

threats cyber landscape

The report examines the tactics, techniques and procedures employed by some of the most sophisticated cyber adversaries and explores how cyber incidents could evolve over the next year.

“Since COVID-19 radically shifted the way we work and live, we’ve seen a wide range of cyber adversaries changing their tactics to take advantage of new vulnerabilities,” said Josh Ray, who leads Accenture Security’s cyber defense practice globally.

“The biggest takeaway from our research is that organizations should expect cybercriminals to become more brazen as the potential opportunities and pay-outs from these campaigns climb to the stratosphere.

“In such a climate, organizations need to double down on putting the right controls in place and by leveraging reliable cyber threat intelligence to understand and expel the most complex threats.”

Sophisticated adversaries mask identities with off-the-shelf tools

Throughout 2020, CTI analysts have observed suspected state-sponsored and organized criminal groups using a combination of off-the-shelf tooling — including “living off the land” tools, shared hosting infrastructure and publicly developed exploit code — and open source penetration testing tools at unprecedented scale to carry out cyberattacks and hide their tracks.

For example, Accenture tracks the patterns and activities of an Iran-based hacker group referred to as SOURFACE (also known as Chafer or Remix Kitten). Active since at least 2014, the group is known for its cyberattacks on the oil and gas, communications, transportation and other industries in the U.S., Israel, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Australia and other regions.

CTI analysts have observed SOURFACE using legitimate Windows functions and freely available tools such as Mimikatz for credential dumping. This technique is used to steal user authentication credentials like usernames and passwords to allow attackers to escalate privileges or move across the network to compromise other systems and accounts while disguised as a valid user.

According to the report, it is highly likely that sophisticated actors, including state-sponsored and organized criminal groups, will continue to use off-the-shelf and penetration testing tools for the foreseeable future as they are easy to use, effective and cost-efficient.

New, sophisticated tactics target business continuity

The report notes how one notorious group has aggressively targeted systems supporting Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web Access, and then uses these compromised systems as beachheads within a victim’s environment to hide traffic, relay commands, compromise e-mail, steal data and gather credentials for espionage efforts.

Operating from Russia, the group, refered to as BELUGASTURGEON (also known as Turla or Snake), has been active for more than 10 years and is associated with numerous cyberattacks aimed at government agencies, foreign policy research firms and think tanks across the globe.

Ransomware feeds new profitable, scalable business model

Ransomware has quickly become a more lucrative business model in the past year, with cybercriminals taking online extortion to a new level by threatening to publicly release stolen data or sell it and name and shame victims on dedicated websites.

The criminals behind the Maze, Sodinokibi (also known as REvil) and DoppelPaymer ransomware strains are the pioneers of this growing tactic, which is delivering bigger profits and resulting in a wave of copycat actors and new ransomware peddlers.

Additionally, the infamous LockBit ransomware emerged earlier this year, which — in addition to copying the extortion tactic — has gained attention due to its self-spreading feature that quickly infects other computers on a corporate network.

The motivations behind LockBit appear to be financial, too. CTI analysts have tracked cybercriminals behind it on Dark Web forums, where they are found to advertise regular updates and improvements to the ransomware, and actively recruit new members promising a portion of the ransom money.

The success of these hack-and-leak extortion methods, especially against larger organizations, means they will likely proliferate for the remainder of 2020 and could foreshadow future hacking trends in 2021. In fact, CTI analysts have observed recruitment campaigns on a popular Dark Web forum from the threat actors behind Sodinokibi.

Accenture myWizard automation platform gets AI-powered automation features

Accenture announced a new generation of its intelligent automation platform Accenture myWizard, to help organizations unleash the power of automation to improve business agility, customer experience and innovation.

Accenture myWizard helps organizations create, implement and measure enterprise-wide automation strategies and reimagine their IT systems for efficiency and performance. The expanded platform offers capabilities for modern software quality engineering, technology operations and enterprise automation journey management — all underpinned by a broad suite of technology assets infused by artificial intelligence (AI).

The platform is designed for collaboration by enabling distributed agile practices that are easily scaled, including automating DevOps in the cloud. New features also include an automation roadmap with benchmarks to identify automation opportunities and provide insights for faster value realization. Accenture myWizard holds more than 150 patents and patent applications.

“Automation is about change, acceleration, and pivoting business to somewhere new. Companies are having to compress years of digital and cultural transformation into months, and automation, like cloud, is an absolutely essential tool for rapid change,” said Paul Daugherty, group chief executive – Technology and chief technology officer for Accenture. “That’s why we have over 100,000 professionals currently using myWizard, and we continually invest in new features, to help our clients build the adaptable, digital foundation they need to keep their businesses relevant and resilient.”

“Organizations are changing how they engage with customers and quickly adapt to volatile market conditions, all while confronting massive cost pressures. A strong digital foundation—powered by automation, data and cloud — is imperative to achieving years of change in a matter of months,” said Paul Daugherty, group chief executive — Technology and chief technology officer for Accenture. “Over 100,000 professionals currently use myWizard to help create, implement and measure an enterprise-wide automation strategy. Its new features will enable organizations to reduce operational costs and gain productivity, while growing their business with speed and certainty.”

The need for enhanced automation capabilities was highlighted by Accenture’s Future Systems research which found that companies that only make defensive technology investments are more likely to face disruption, growth stagnation and financial constraints. In contrast, 98% of leading companies that adopt new technologies such as automation, DevOps and continuous delivery are outperforming their peers in revenue growth and operating margin.

Business functions fail to collaborate on digitization

Many companies do not realize the full value of investing in digital projects due to a lack of collaboration among their critical business functions, according to a study by Accenture.

collaborate on digitization

Organizations struggle to collaborate on digitization

The study found that 75 percent of executives said their departments compete rather than collaborate on digitization, which raises cost and eats up expected revenues gains.

The study is based on publicly reported financial information as well as a survey of 1,550 senior executives across R&D, Engineering, Production and Supply Chain business functions from mostly manufacturing and industrial companies in February 2020.

While fielded before the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic was evident, the research points to trends and issues that the crisis and economic downturn will only exacerbate and provides insights on how to tackle them now, next and in the never normal.

“As companies have grown, they have developed silos – centralized functions and divisions that often focus primarily on their internal needs and inhibit collaboration as a result,” said Nigel Stacey, managing director and global lead for Accenture Industry X.0.

“Now that the crisis is speeding up digital transformation, this old ‘walled garden’ problem is rearing its head again. It isn’t just preventing companies from digitizing their businesses as a whole but putting them at risk of slower recovery and stunted growth.”

The cost of cross-function competition

For example, many companies have made redundant investments in certain technologies. This lack of collaboration and alignment across functions has already cost companies. For example:

  • Between 2017 and 2019, their investments in digital projects increased costs by almost 6 percent.
  • Companies had expected to add 11.3 percent to their annual revenues by digitizing functions yet achieved only an extra 6 percent on average.
  • Sixty-four percent aren’t seeing digital investments boosting their revenue growth at all.

“When business functions operate in silos while planning or executing digital projects, it stifles innovation and can cause a company to miss opportunities for growth and greater performance,” said Rachael Bartels, senior managing director and global lead for Function Networks and Programs at Accenture.

“Leaders across industries are realizing that even without the added challenges of a global crisis, no company can afford a lack of collaboration within their enterprise or between their business functions.”

Additional revenue from business digitization

A small group of companies (22 percent) stands out by how it collaborates internally for higher value from digital. Between 2017 and 2019, these ‘Champions’ achieved significantly better financial results from digitizing their business functions:

  • They drove additional revenue with digital projects that was four times higher than what other companies achieved – 27.1 percent versus 6.6 percent.
  • They grew thirteen times more profitably by increasing their EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) by 27 percent versus 2.1 percent – even though they invested only 1.5 times more in digital projects.

collaborate on digitization

Increasing competitiveness amid the worsening economic climate

An additional analysis after the start of the pandemic has shown that these Champions also weathered the current downturn better than their peers on average stock price performance.

This strongly suggests that what these companies do differently increases their competitiveness amid the worsening economic climate. This includes:

  • Champions’ business strategies include execution plans for digital transformation across all functions. Every functional leader knows what’s at stake and is held accountable for it.
  • They are more likely to have a single C-suite executive responsible for overall digital transformation and digital success in each function (82 percent vs. 66 percent).
  • They pick projects that bring people together and stimulate collaboration between functions, such as connected device management and digitization of engineering data.
  • Their digital solutions and platforms are interoperable. Champions are more likely to have their digital platforms work and communicate well together (71 percent vs. 64 percent).
  • They have clear rules for how their information technology (which supports enterprise planning) and operating technology (which controls manufacturing and operations) should work together.

“Companies must sustain their digital transformation through the economic downturn,” said Raghav Narsalay, managing director and global research lead for Accenture Industry X.0. “This only works if they commit to cross-function collaboration. Like efficiency and productivity, it’s becoming a critical barometer for success and differentiation in difficult times.”

Accenture acquires Byte Prophecy to deliver advanced analytics and AI solutions to enterprises

Accenture has acquired Byte Prophecy, an automated insights and big data analytics company based in Ahmedabad, India, to meet the growing demand for enterprise-scale AI and digital analytics solutions across the region.

The acquisition will add nearly 50 data science and data engineering experts, with a particular focus on insight automation, to Accenture Applied Intelligence. The move will deepen existing consulting and technology capabilities that help clients in areas such as data foundations and advanced analytics.

“Across industries, decision making has become more complex, and businesses are increasingly relying on advanced analytics and AI to ensure insight driven, rapid decision making,” said Piyush N. Singh, Accenture’s market unit lead for India and sales lead for Growth Markets.

“Beyond advanced technology capabilities, Accenture brings our clients a co-innovation mindset, and in Byte Prophecy we found a partner with the right mix of technology and consulting skills, and a client-centric innovation culture.”

Founded in 2011, Byte Prophecy has worked closely with Accenture Ventures since 2018 on open innovation efforts, collaborating and co-innovating with Accenture and its clients in Asia Pacific on advanced data and analytics projects.

“Our team has already been working with Byte Prophecy over the past two years, and together we’ve helped clients build the strong data foundations that are the cornerstone for successful AI adoption,” said Athina Kanioura, Accenture’s chief analytics officer and global lead for Applied Intelligence.

“Officially making Byte Prophecy’s people and capabilities part of Accenture is a testament to the shared vision of shared success we’ve seen in our joint efforts.”

“Our experience working with Accenture has helped us better understand customer pain points and fine-tune our solution to respond with greater agility to clients’ needs,” said Mrugank Parikh, co-founder, Byte Prophecy.

“The opportunity to become part of Accenture Applied Intelligence will enable us to jointly build stronger assets and expand our services to more clients in the emerging markets. We are excited about our journey ahead and are looking forward to exploring the wide opportunities this union will bring to our people and clients.”

Accenture’s acquisition strategy involves delivering on existing, as well as emerging client needs with speed and scale. Over the past year the company has made Applied Intelligence acquisitions in Australia, Spain, North America and the U.K. to enhance its portfolio of technologies and help clients across those markets scale AI.

How financial services firms are handling data privacy

One-third of financial services organizations lack a clear plan or the resources to address privacy risks related to customer data in the next 12 months, according to a report by Accenture.

financial services data privacy

The report is based on a survey of 100 privacy executives in the banking, insurance and capital markets sectors in North America and Europe. It focuses on how companies should rethink how they use, store and protect customer data as recently implemented regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), give consumers explicit privacy rights.

An increased need for a clear privacy strategy

According to the report, seven in 10 respondents (70%) see privacy as a key risk for their firms, increasing the need for a clear privacy strategy. Noting that nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents’ companies use consent to tailor customer-facing products and services, the report suggests that financial services firms incorporate privacy into the overall customer journey by giving customers more control over their data and deleting personal information upon request.

“Given the renewed regulatory focus and threat of significant financial fines, it’s not surprising that financial services firms are making privacy a top priority,” said Ben Shorten, a managing director in Accenture’s Strategy & Consulting group.

“But these institutions should think beyond the compliance risks and consider the broader opportunity to elevate the customer experience around privacy. Consumers are willing to share information if there’s value in it for them, whether personalized offers, better services or more competitive pricing. Firms that understand how customers perceive and value data privacy have a clear opportunity to differentiate themselves.”

Building consumer trust

When asked which privacy risks will require the most effort to remediate over the next year, respondents most often cited privacy risk monitoring (51%), the accuracy and maintenance of records processing/ information asset registers (44%), and records management and data retention/deletion (41%).

These risks are heightened by the “right to erasure” requests under GDPR and CCPA, which empower consumers to ask companies to delete their personal data upon request, making proper records management critical. One way that firms can achieve this, according to the report, is by using automated tools to aid with data discovery.

The report notes that while three-fourths (76%) of respondents plan to increase their privacy investments over the next year, companies without a clear privacy strategy could fail to reap the expected value from these investments — while those that create clear strategies and infuse a culture of privacy awareness across their organizations will differentiate themselves and build consumer trust.

In addition, as firms increasingly focus on demonstrating ethical and responsible use of data in their artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms, a new class of privacy risks related to data ethics could emerge.

This presents another opportunity for firms to build consumer trust by providing greater transparency around automated decisioning models and introducing ethical guide rails for the use of personal data.

Can 5G make you more vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Many enterprises and sectors are unaware of the 5G security vulnerabilities that exist today. Choice IoT says it’s critical for businesses to have a plan for discovering and overcoming them at the outset of a 5G/IoT platform rollout to avoid future cybersecurity disasters.

5G security vulnerabilities

There is a big difference between the promise of 5G low latency, higher bandwidth, and speed for businesses versus the security of 5G. While many are excited about Gartner’s prediction of $4.2 billion being invested in global 5G wireless network infrastructure in 2020, few discuss the business costs of its unheralded security holes.

That’s an ongoing conversation that 5G and IoT solutions experts like Choice IOT’s CEO Darren Sadana are having with enterprises with 5G plans on the drawing board. “Businesses will need a strategy for overcoming 5G’s inherited security flaws from 4G or face major losses and privacy catastrophes.”

5G is poised to drive IoT, industrial IoT (IIoT), cloud services, network virtualization, and edge computing, which multiplies the endpoint security complications. Although the manufacturing sector cites IIoT security as the top priority, the combination of 5G security vulnerabilities may come back to haunt them.

Pinpointing 5G security vulnerabilities

According to an Accenture study of more than 2,600 business and technology decision makers across 12 industry sectors in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, 62% fear 5G will make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. At the root of the problem is the reality that many of the security problems stem from the software-defined, virtualized nature of 5G versus the hardware foundations of earlier LTE mobile communication standards.

It’s central role in IoT is a strength and a weakness where endpoints are highly localized and beyond the network edge. The 5G network promises of device authentication, device encryption, device ID, and credentialing are positives, but the flip side is that many of those pluses also carry security dangers.

The nature of how signals and data are routed in 5G/IoT networks can lead to Mobile Network mapping (MNmap), where attackers can create maps of devices connected to a network, identify each device and link it to a specific person. Then there are Man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks that enable attackers to hijack the device information before security is applied.

There are also supply chain security challenges with platform components bought from overseas that harbor inherent security flaws. This can be seen in the backdoor vulnerabilities alleged to be purposely built into mobile carrier networks supplied with equipment from Chinese equipment giant Huawei.

The back doors would allow malicious actors to get target location, eavesdrop on calls, and enable the potential for ransomware injection into a 5G network targeting a mobile carrier.

Other vulnerabilities covered across the wireless and IoT sectors include SIM Jacking, Authenticated Key Exchange protocols (AKA) and a host of base station backdoor vulnerabilities.

IoT for everything from smart homes, medical devices and machine to machine (M2M) operation to smart cities/power grids and autonomous vehicles are threat targets. They all give attackers multiple ways to manipulate interconnected IoT devices communicating data via 5G networks.

DDoS attacks, the ability to take control of video surveillance systems and medical devices, and more are all possible due to this broader attack surface and inherent 5G vulnerabilities.

Plugging the holes

The picture doesn’t have to be a bleak one for businesses and enterprises that want to maximize the benefits of 5G while eliminating its vulnerabilities across sectors like healthcare, utilities, finance, automotive, communication and many others.

A U.S. Senator, recently called on the FCC to require wireless carriers rolling out 5G networks to develop cybersecurity standards. Sadana and other experts make it clear that assessment, discovery, and planning are key. They form the foundation for 5G/IoT platform buildout vulnerability identification and system modifications that encompass IT/OT and wireless connectivity.

Sadana points to the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which is developing a NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide. This will demonstrate how the components of 5G architectures can be used securely to mitigate risks and meet industry sectors’ compliance requirements across use case scenarios.

“While this goes a long way to providing a standardized practices roadmap for companies in creating 5G platforms that are secure, it’s only a start,” explained Sadana. “5G is still the wild west with things changing every day, so businesses need IoT/IT security expert partners that can help them plan from the ground up.”

Accenture acquires Context Information Security to strenghten its existing portfolio

Accenture has acquired Context Information Security, a leading cyber defense consultancy, previously owned by parent company Babcock International Group. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in London, Context is one of the most recognizable and respected information security service providers in the U.K. and in global financial services.

The company provides high-end cyber defense, intelligence-driven red team, vulnerability research and incident response services. They have been involved in handling some of the most advanced incident response cases in the industry.

The acquisition of Context — which also has offices in Germany, the U.S. and Australia — strengthens Accenture Security’s existing portfolio and becomes part of Accenture’s cyber defense offerings. The addition of Context’s more than 250 employees will further deepen Accenture Security’s services to clients.

Context’s client base spans multiple industries including financial services, government, aerospace & defense, critical infrastructure and more. The company has played a significant role in helping government organizations, financial institutions and other clients, respond to the threat of advanced cyberattacks.

“This acquisition is an excellent match for us, combining a group of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals globally while providing differentiated services to clients in the U.K. market,” said Kelly Bissell, a senior managing director at Accenture, who leads Accenture Security.

“The deal signals continued aggressive growth for Accenture Security and gives us a new branch of talented family members to help clients grow their business with confidence and resilience.”

“Context has a remarkable set of cybersecurity skills, capabilities and reputation in the U.K. as well as in the international financial services industry to complement the growth we have already driven for more than a decade in this market,” said Nick Taylor, UKI lead at Accenture Security.

“We are excited to welcome this talented group of professionals that share a common vision of providing world-class cybersecurity to our clients.”

Mark Raeburn, Context Information Security’s chief executive officer, said, “We are excited about the opportunity to become part of the Accenture family. Combining our skills and expertise under one roof to help us do more for our clients and create more opportunities for our people was an easy decision.

“Accenture’s industry-focused approach across adversary simulation, red teaming, incident response and more, matches Context’s own strategy. Accenture’s family culture is a great fit for Context. We’re genuinely excited to join forces to help clients better defend themselves against the world’s most advanced adversaries.”

Earlier this year in January, Accenture agreed to acquire Symantec’s Cyber Security Services business, which is the latest in a series of acquisitions — including those of Deja vu Security, iDefense, Maglan, Redcore, Arismore and FusionX — that demonstrate Accenture Security’s commitment to investing, innovating and scaling its cybersecurity services for clients.

Focus on cyber resilience increasing sharply as oil companies seek to protect their assets

Cybersecurity has emerged as the top focus of upstream oil and gas companies’ digital investments, according to a report from Accenture.

cyber resilience oil companies

The report is based on a global survey of 255 industry professionals, including C-suite executives, functional leaders and engineers.

Increased investments in cybersecurity

When respondents were asked which digital technologies their organizations are investing in today, cybersecurity was cited more than any other, by 61% of respondents – five times higher than the 12% who made that claim in 2017. The report suggests that the focus on cyber resilience is increasing sharply as oil companies seek to protect their assets and reputations.

Cybersecurity was also cited by more respondents (16%) than any other digital solutions when asked which were driving the greatest impact in terms of business performance, up from 9% in 2017.

With their increased investments in cybersecurity today, only 5% of respondents see increased vulnerability to cyberattacks as the biggest risk from a lack of investment in digital – less than one-third the number (18%) who made this claim in 2017. This might explain why only 35% of respondents plan to invest in cybersecurity over the next three to five years.

“As oil companies’ operations come under increasing threat, cyber resilience becomes more important to stakeholders, consumers and government,” said Rich Holsman, a managing director at Accenture who leads the digital practice in the company’s Resources operating group.

“Managing attacks isn’t just a matter of protecting reputation, share price and operations, but it’s part of a greater responsibility for national services and security.

“Upstream businesses must continue to invest thoughtfully and substantially in cybersecurity measures, as they often underestimate their exposure to such attacks, which are also increasing in technical complexity.”

Cloud technologies: The second-biggest focus for digital investment

The survey identified cloud technologies as the second-biggest focus for digital investment, cited by 53% of companies. In fact, 15% of respondents identified cloud technologies as the digital solutions driving the greatest business performance impact.

The report suggests that oil and gas companies are still investing heavily in cloud technologies because they are a foundation for their digital transformational journeys and for greater operational security.

Additionally, the percentage of respondents who cited artificial intelligence (AI) as driving the greatest business performance impact more than doubled from 2017, from 4% to 9%.

As such, when asked what digital technologies they plan to invest in over the next three to five years, the greatest number (51%) cited AI / machine learning – up from 30% in 2017 – followed by big data / analytics (50%), the internet of things (43%) and mobile / wearable technologies (38%).

47% of respondents cited a loss of competitive advantage as the biggest risk of a lack of investment in digital, with 42% citing cost reduction as the most significant business challenge that digital can help address.

Broadly however, the rate of digital investment by upstream companies has remained almost the same over the last few years. For instance, the number of executives who said their companies plan to invest more or significantly more in digital technologies over the next three to five years – 72% – was relatively unchanged from the number of who responded similarly to the same question in the 2017 survey (71%).

Scaling digital technologies is key to generating value from digital investments

The report reveals that upstream oil and gas companies are finding it hard to scale digital initiatives. Only 9% of respondents reported that their department or division had been able to scale at least half of the digital proofs of concept (POCs) they’ve developed over the last two years.

Further, only 20% of respondents said that they were able to scale more than 20% of their POCs past this pilot stage.

cyber resilience oil companies

The report also notes that while upstream companies need to scale digital technologies to release trapped value – i.e., to generate added value from their digital investments – significant barriers remain to doing so.

For instance, 34% of respondents said they see the lack of a clear strategy and business case as the biggest barrier, up from 26% in 2017.

Further, only 15% of respondents said they are seeing more than $50 million in additional value from their digital investments, and only one in 20 (5%) said that digital is adding at least $100 million in value to their upstream business, a drop from 12% only two years ago.

“Although upstream companies continue to increase their digital investments, they’re not translating those investments optimally into tangible value – in fact, their ability to generate value from digital seems to be declining,” Holsman said.

“These companies face organizational bottlenecks and are finding it hard to scale these technologies, impeding core business transformation and the release of capital.

“Realigning digital investments and building the right operating model and digital capabilities is needed for oil companies to become agile and able to scale to value. This will require not only more support from leadership, but also a much broader ecosystem of partnerships as well.”

Key technology trends that will redefine businesses over the next three years

To compete and succeed in a world where digital is everywhere, companies need a new focus on balancing “value” with “values,” aligning their drive to create business value with their customers’ and employees’ values and expectations, according to Accenture.

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A new mindset and approach is required

Even though people are embedding technology into their lives more than ever before, organizations’ attempts to meet their needs and expectations can fall short. As companies enter the decade of delivering on their digital promises, a new mindset and approach is required.

While some have referred to today’s environment as a tech-lash, or backlash against technology, that term fails to acknowledge the extent to which society is using and benefitting from technology. Rather, it’s a tech-clash — a clash between business and technology models that are incongruous with people’s needs and expectations.

Of the more than 6,000 business and IT executives worldwide surveyed for the report, 83% acknowledge that technology has become an inextricable part of the human experience.

As part of the research this year, 2,000 consumers were also surveyed — 70% of whom expect their relationship with technology to be more or significantly more prominent over the next three years.

“Dazzled by the promise of technology, many organizations created digital products and services just because they could, without fully considering the human, organizational and societal consequences,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology & innovation officer.

“Today we’re seeing a tech-clash caused by the tension between consumer expectations, the potential of technology, and business ambitions — and are now at an important leadership inflection point.

“We must shift our mindset from ‘just because’ to ‘trust because’ — reexamining our fundamental business and technology models and creating a new basis for competition and growth.”

Existing models don’t work

According to the report, continuing with existing models doesn’t just risk irritating customers or disengaging employees, but could permanently limit the potential for future innovation and growth.

But tech-clash is a challenge that can be solved. The report identifies five key trends that companies must address over next three years to defuse tech-clash and realize new forms of business value that will be driven in part by stronger, more trusting relationships with stakeholders.

The I in experience

Organizations will need to design personalized experiences that amplify an individual’s agency and choice. This turns passive audiences into active participants by transforming one-way experiences — which can leave people feeling out of control and out of the loop — into true collaborations.

85% of business and IT executives surveyed believe that competing successfully in this new decade requires organizations to elevate their relationships with customers as partners.

AI and me

Artificial intelligence (AI) should be an additive contributor to how people perform their work, rather than a backstop for automation. As AI capabilities grow, enterprises must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process, with trust and transparency at its core.

Currently, only 37% of organizations report using inclusive design or human-centric design principles to support human-machine collaboration.

The dilemma of smart things

Assumptions about who owns a product are being challenged in a world entering a state of “forever beta.” As enterprises seek to introduce a new generation of products driven by digital experiences, addressing this new reality will be critical to success.

74% of executives report that their organization’s connected products and services will have more, or significantly more, updates over the next three years.

Robots in the wild

Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. With 5G poised to rapidly accelerate this fast-growing trend, every enterprise must re-think its future through the lens of robotics.

Executives are split in their views of how their employees will embrace robotics: 45% say their employees will be challenged to figure out how to work with robots, while 55% believe that their employees will easily figure out how to work with them.

technology future businesses

Innovation DNA

Enterprises have access to an unprecedented amount of disruptive technology, such as distributed ledgers, AI, extended reality and quantum computing. To manage it all — and evolve at the speed demanded by the market today — organizations will need to establish their own unique innovation DNA.

76% of executives believe that the stakes for innovation have never been higher, so getting it “right” will require new ways of innovating with ecosystem partners and third-party organizations.

Disrupters are already taking steps to address the gap between people’s expectations and today’s standards. For example, startup Inrupt is working on a data-linking architecture called Solid, which is designed to give people more control over their personal information by allowing them to store and use their data across the web through “pods.”

People could decide where their pods are hosted and determine which companies or machines can access them — revoking or deleting their information at any time, catalyzing Inrupt co-founder Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of a web of opportunity for everyone. This is precisely the kind of human-centered approach that will define leading organizations in the future.

Companies risk revenue growth due to innovation achievement gap

While a majority of CEOs express strong confidence in the effectiveness of their current IT systems, most are struggling to close the innovation achievement gap to drive growth and revenue, according to a global study by Accenture.

innovation achievement gap

The is based on Accenture’s largest enterprise IT study conducted to date, including survey data from more than 8,300 organizations across 20 countries and 885 CEOs.

Innovation achievement gap: Adopting new technologies

The research, which analyzed the adoption of both mature and emerging technologies – such as artificial intelligence, cloud, blockchain, and extended reality – found that just 10% of companies are making optimal technology investment and adoption decisions and realizing the full value of those investments.

By adopting new technologies more aggressively and breaking down barriers to effectively scale innovation across their organizations, these leading companies are generating more than twice the rate of revenue growth than those on the lower end of the spectrum.

At the same time, the study found that 80% of CEOs believe they have the right technologies in place to innovate at scale, and 70% claim to be very knowledgeable of their organization’s investments in innovation.

Key factors that distinguish the top 10% of companies from the rest

  • Progress: The extent to which companies apply new technology to evolve business processes across the enterprise. One example is the use of cloud and AI to increase the effectiveness of multiple business processes rather than working in silos.
  • Adaptation: Ensuring that IT systems can adapt and respond to changing market conditions with actions such as decoupling from legacy systems and using cloud services as a catalyst for innovation.
  • Timing: Creating an appropriate sequence and roadmaps for deploying new technology. This begins with identifying foundational technologies and prioritizing adoption based on their enterprise-wide impact.
  • Human+machine workforce: Using technologies to augment employees and make work more engaging while simultaneously realizing efficiency gains. This could entail delivering technology-augmented training that is personalized and experiential for working with technologies of the future.
  • Strategy: Actively aligning business strategy and IT strategy and weaving technology investments together to better seize opportunities.

innovation achievement gap

“Companies that are not actively building enterprise-wide systems that are fully optimized for all of the rapidly-maturing technologies will find it difficult to catch up, and will see that reflected negatively in their financial performance,” said James Wilson, managing director of Information Technology and Business Research at Accenture.

State CIOs see innovation as critical priority, only 14% report extensive innovation

Most state CIOs see innovation as a major part of their job – 83% said innovation is an important or very important part of their day-to-day leadership responsibilities – while only 14% reported extensive innovation initiatives within their organizations, Accenture and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) reveal.

State CIOs innovation

Previously, NASCIO had highlighted innovation as a top ten current issue facing state CIOs.

“The pace of technological change keeps accelerating, bringing new challenges and opening opportunities, and state CIOs have an important, central role to play in fostering innovation to help government deliver better services and value to citizens,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO’s executive director.

“State government operating models should evolve to better enable, emphasize and capture the benefits of innovation, and this research points the way forward.”

State CIOs: Obstacles to innovation

The survey focused on identifying current practices and their views regarding obstacles to innovation. Most notably:

  • Lack of funding is seen as the top barrier: 63% cited as top barrier, followed by workforce skills
  • Executive support for innovation is perceived as low: 26% said their state administrative leadership has made innovation a stated priority, and 6% said their state legislature has done so
  • Governance structures to oversee innovation are becoming more common: 49% have one and 31% are developing one
  • Collaboration in innovation ecosystems is mainly internally focused: Input from employees is the top source of innovative ideas, cited by 63%, while less than half point to external collaborations and only 14% point to input from citizens
  • Workforce skills are a pervasive challenge: 85% cited struggles finding the right skills for innovation, and 46% identified lack of skills as the top barrier for innovation

State CIOs innovation

“Effective innovation depends on consistent, strong leadership support, collaborative systems and a conducive organizational culture, and state CIOs are key across all these dimensions,” said Rick Webb, Accenture managing director.

Accenture names Marco Huwiler country managing director for Switzerland

Accenture has named Marco Huwiler country managing director for Switzerland. In this role, Huwiler leads Accenture’s growing business in Switzerland, which supports over 100 clients, applying new digital technologies to drive innovation and transform their organizations.

Huwiler (44) currently heads Accenture’s Financial Services group in Switzerland, responsible for managing and developing its insurance, banking and capital markets capabilities. In addition, he is the account lead for some of Accenture’s largest Swiss financial services clients.

Huwiler joined Accenture in 2001 and has extensive experience of helping national and international clients drive growth through large-scale business transformation projects, digitization programs and innovation initiatives.

Huwiler succeeds Thomas D. (Thomi) Meyer, who has served in the role since 2003 and will retire from the company in May 2020 due to reaching the contractual age. Under his leadership, the Swiss practice has seen significant growth in revenues and talent.

Meyer served as a global client account lead for several of the largest Swiss clients, led the insurance practice in Europe, Latin America and Africa for more than 5 years and headed the launch of the Digital business unit in the DACH (German-speaking) region.

“Marco Huwiler has extensive experience of running our work with key financial services clients and will now be leading our efforts to continue our growth and strengthen our brand.

“Switzerland has many world-leading companies and we want to work with them to help them drive growth and transform their business for the digital age,” said Frank Riemensperger, chairman of Accenture in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia.

“At the same time, we are grateful to Thomi for his tremendous contributions to Accenture during his 33-year career with our company. His dedication and passion are truly outstanding and inspirational.

“As a trusted advisor to both the Swiss industry landscape and the public community, he made a decisive impact in innovating Switzerland and the European insurance industry. On behalf of Accenture, I wish Thomi all the best for his future.”

Accenture acquires Clarity Insights to help clients scale AI across their businesses

Accenture has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Clarity Insights, a U.S.-based data consultancy with deep data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) expertise.

The acquisition will add nearly 350 employees, along with a strong portfolio of accelerators, which can help organizations more quickly realize value from their data, to Accenture’s Applied Intelligence business. These additions will further equip clients with leading capabilities to meet the growing demand for enterprise-scale AI, analytics and automation solutions.

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Chicago, with additional locations throughout the United States, Clarity Insights is a leading provider of data science and AI/ML engineering capabilities for large enterprises, and a strategic partner to clients across a range of industries, particularly healthcare, financial services and insurance.

Recognized as one of the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces 2019, their focus on serving clients’ needs end to end – from building the right data and AI-enabled strategy, to implementing that technical strategy in meeting business goals – creates a strong foundation to transform business processes to embed and scale AI with deeper insights from data.

“Clarity Insights’s combination of strong technical talent, combined with deep industry expertise, will fortify and broaden our ability to help our clients scale AI across their businesses,” said Athina Kanioura, chief analytics officer and global lead for Applied Intelligence at Accenture.

“Their focus on insight-driven transformation for healthcare bolsters Accenture’s capabilities and is particularly critical now, when our research shows that 87% of healthcare executives surveyed report that they know how to pilot, but struggle to scale AI across their business.”

“We were drawn to Accenture, in large part, because of the synergies in how we approach clients,” said Neil Huse, president and CEO, Clarity Insights.

“Fully understanding clients’ business goals and objectives is the first step to a successful AI deployment. From there our team can pull together the right data foundation, tools and accelerators that will smooth their path to adoption. With Accenture, we’ll be able to accelerate this shared vision for success and help more clients get there, more quickly.”

In addition to organically growing talent, Accenture’s strategic approach to acquisitions is designed to ensure the right capabilities are in place to meet existing, as well as emerging, client needs with speed and scale.

Clarity Insights’s bench of deep industry, technical, and business experts builds upon the 2018 U.S. acquisitions of Knowledgent and Kogentix, and will play a pivotal role in strengthening Accenture’s growing analytics, AI and ML/data engineering business in North America.

Global growth in AI client engagements has also served as a driver for recent Applied Intelligence acquisitions of Pragsis Bidoop in Spain and Analytics8 in Australia. In its 2019 fiscal year, Accenture invested nearly US$1.2 billion globally on 33 acquisitions to acquire critical skills and capabilities in strategic, high-growth areas of the market.

Accenture Applied Intelligence employs more than 20,000 professionals, working to help clients scale AI, including 6,000 data scientists, data engineers and AI professionals worldwide. It has received several recognitions from leading industry analyst firms in 2019, including being named a worldwide leader in AI vendor services by IDC.

Completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearance. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Accenture Cloud Native Core Solution: Helping clients leverage the public cloud for business results

Accenture has launched the Accenture Cloud Native Core Solution to help enterprises leverage the public cloud for maximum business agility and results.

Often cited as the future of application development, cloud native computing provides organizations with many significant benefits, such as the ability to develop new products quickly and efficiently; get products and services to market faster; and increase the scale, flexibility and resilience of their IT environments.

As a result, many companies today are seeking to embrace a cloud native approach — creating applications specifically for the cloud instead of repurposing legacy architectures – as a way to maximize the returns on their cloud migration investments.

The Accenture Cloud Native Core Solution provides clients with the four core elements they need to chart a cloud native approach, including:

  • changing the architectural style to microservices/serverless
  • using Agile software development approaches
  • adapting fresh DevOps processes
  • selecting the right hyperscale cloud platform

Accenture will help clients utilize this solution for optimal organizational transformation, enabling them to develop more flexible, agile IT systems and build broader ecosystems.

“Leading companies are seeking to increase their business agility for experiences that go beyond their customers’ expectations,” said Keisuke Yamane, who leads Accenture’s Intelligent Software Engineering Services Group in Japan.

“This requires a flexible, agile business solution that can rapidly respond to business changes and expansion. We’re not just substituting one technology for another. Accenture is helping clients link together their various technologies, processes and services to drive measurable business value.”

Companies can use the Accenture Cloud Native Core Solution to build and deploy microservices and, in turn, break down their big, monolithic applications into smaller components. This enables each component to be developed, scaled and maintained independently by different development teams.

Accenture’s solution can also connect with external capabilities via application programming interfaces; build and operate near-real-time analytics platforms that leverage customer data warehouses; and develop personalization services based on data analytics, among other functions.

The Accenture Cloud Native Solution is ideal for industries that require a mission critical core backbone system, such as financial services. Fukuoka Financial Group (FFG) has selected the Accenture Cloud Native Core Solution to support the banking system for its “Minna no Ginko” digital-only bank, which FFG plans to launch in the first half of 2021.

As part of that agreement, Accenture will help FFG drive organizational change and enhance the digital skills of its workforce.

Accenture unveils new cloud platform that assesses, designs and simulates cloud solutions

Accenture launched myNav, a cloud platform that helps organizations design and simulate different cloud solutions to identify the ones that best fit their specific business requirements. Identifying the right cloud solution can be complicated, as there are multiple cloud providers and cloud models, including public, private, multi and hybrid. Further, many companies spend significant time and money migrating applications and data centers to the cloud only to find that the applications don’t always operate optimally. … More

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Accenture’s new offering helps financial institutions combat financial crime and comply with regulations

Accenture has introduced a compliance-as-a-service offering to help financial institutions, fintech and technology companies cost-effectively combat financial crime and comply with related regulations.

Navigating the regulations that combat financial crime can be very expensive, and financial institutions have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties for failing to prevent parties from disguising illegally obtained funds as legitimate income.

It is estimated that financial services firms globally will spend 4% of total revenues, on average, on compliance-related activities, with that figure expected to rise to 10% by 2021.

Accenture’s compliance-as-a-service (CaaS) offering provides an end-to-end capability that leverages SynOps — Accenture’s human-machine operating “engine” that synergizes data, applied intelligence, digital technologies and exceptional talent — to help financial institutions manage the scope and complexity of the ever-changing regulatory and compliance environment.

Designed to serve the compliance departments of banks, insurers, capital markets and other organizations, the CaaS offering —which expands Accenture’s managed service capabilities — delivers a variety of comprehensive managed services, including:

  • Know Your Customer (KYC): Tools and capabilities that help businesses verify the identity of clients and assess their suitability, along with the potential risk of illegal intentions in a business relationship. One large bank using this capability reduced case processing times by 15% and significantly reduced false positives.
  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML): Intensive measures to enable low- and high-risk customers to comply with AML regulations, including transaction monitoring and alert management. For example, newly fortified AML controls recently helped a large bank achieve quality ratings greater than 95% and eliminate future quality assurance backlogs.
  • Compliance and controls testing, combined with governance, analytics and continuous reporting.
  • Contract lifecycle management, improved by transformational technologies, process and data strategies for London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) contracts.
  • Privacy data management, to ensure data practices keep pace with changing privacy regulations.
  • “Today’s compliance officers need to be agile and transform from reactive to strategic in an increasingly complex environment,” said Bob Bradley, who leads the CaaS offering for Accenture Operations.

    “Although the cost of compliance continues to rise, compliance budgets remain stagnant. By moving compliance-related functions to a flexible operating model, our comprehensive offering will enable clients to manage risk with efficiency and speed, freeing them up to focus on higher value-added opportunities as part of their journey to intelligent operations.”

    Steve Culp, a senior managing director at Accenture and head of the company’s Finance & Risk practice, said, “In addition to facing intense cost-pressure, compliance functions must also find talent with the full array of required skills needed to thrive in this new compliance environment, making technology-centered approaches essential.

    “This new offering helps compliance employees enhance their skillsets, improve their productivity, and contend with emerging challenges such as data privacy.”