Accenture is making a huge talent bet on AI—aiming to double headcount in that specialty to 80,000 employees

 “What happened in 2023, which is so interesting, is the democratization of generative AI,” Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture, tells me. “That’s really what ChatGPT did. Anybody could use it from the board member to the C-suite to the frontline employee to the student.”

With the proliferation of generative AI, Accenture made a big bet on the longevity of the technology. The global professional services company announced in July a $3 billion investment over three years in its Data and AI practice for clients. The practice will double its AI talent to 80,000 professionals through a mix of hiring, acquisitions, and training, according to Accenture (No. 220 on the Fortune Global 500). The company has over 700,000 employees around the world.

How is the initiative progressing so far? “In the last, roughly six months since we’ve mobilized, we’ve had 3,000 client conversations and have 300 projects underway,” Daugherty says. 

“Some of the bigger industries that we’re seeing making moves would be banking and financial services,” he says. And consumer goods are also having a lot of activity, he adds. 

In a year, things sure have changed. Back in early 2023, some banks forbade their employees to use ChatGPT. And now, I think it would be fair to say that many C-suite leaders have done an about-face and are considering investing in generative AI. 

The recent Accenture Pulse of Change survey found that 92% of CFOs surveyed intend to increase technology investments in 2024, with the No. 1 priority being AI.

But, globally, the C-suite’s top concern going into 2024 is adapting to advancements in technology and innovation, like AI and automation. This is even ahead of concerns around cyberattacks and data breaches, Accenture found.

So, if 2023 was all about access to generative AI, what’s Daugherty’s prediction for 2024 regarding the technology?

“2024 will be the year when I think leading companies will start to look at scaled applications of generative AI,” he explains. “I think we’ll see most companies look to establish the foundation in terms of centers of excellence of responsible AI capabilities that they need to put in place to move forward.”

He continues, “2024 will move to establishing the real foundation to drive the business and the ROI.” 

Speaking of ROI on AI, Microsoft commissioned a global study through IDC that surveyed over 2,000 business leaders across the C-suite. For every $1 companies invest in AI, they are realizing an average of $3.5 in return, according to the study released this month.

“We believe that generative AI, ultimately, in the long term, will lead to real business reinvention,” Daugherty says.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post