Posts tagged ‘accenture’

Strategy: The Future of Work – Technology People and Moore’s Law

Source: Martin King

screen-shot-2014-12-31-at-20-34-58

When we think about work we usually think about people – their mental or physical effort – either alone, with other people or with technology. However, the characteristics of both technology and people are changing and so will the future of work.

Technology has always been an important factor in work – from the earliest of times people have developed and used tools to compliment, enhance and amplify what they can do. Where work and the actions of a tool are repetitive and predictable then it becomes possible to automate the tool to create a machine.

Tools compliment people in work whereas machines replace them in work and change the nature of work at the same time. While people use a tool to do work, with a machine its different –  the machine does the work  and people’s work becomes the machine – operating and attending to the machine.

Machines have only been able to go so far economically (compared with the cost of people to do the same task) and to where and how they can be applied. However, all this is changing – changing economics and technology suggest that we are entering a new machine age and this has radical consequences for the future of people in work.

Technology developments are starting to radically reduce the cost of robots and machines while at the same time the cost of people continues to increase  – making machines more economical than ever before. Computer developments, machine learning and AI are radically changing how and where machines are applied. The predictability required by machines once meant that they were applied only in controlled environments (a typical factory installation for example) but now we are starting to see more machines operating in the real world – Google’s driverless car is an important precursor of this development. The same trend has already happened in IT – where once computers were large, expensive and used in special conditions (think of an office and a desktop PC) .. we now find them out in the real world with us (think smartphones and wearable tech). In the years ahead we should expect to see more and more machines and robots leaving their factories for our world.

Once something becomes digital change and impact becomes rapid (if not exponential) – we are starting to see “Moore’s law” in the digital aspect of machines – if this is the case then we should expect to see radical advances in the application of machines and robots in the 21st century. In 1997 IBMs Deep Blue became the first machine to beat a human world champion at chess – 14 years later IBM returned with Watson to become the first machine win the TV trivia game Jeopardy in 2011. Deep blue was very much a traditional machine – it did one thing .. a special purpose computer to play chess by “brute force analysis” to work out chess moves to greater depth than any human player ever could. Watson however represented something different – IBM describes it as a “smart machine” able to answer questions in natural language. Since winning Jeopardy IBM has developed Watson and what it calls cognitive technology – Watson is now 24 times faster, 90 times smaller and described as performance improved by 2,400%. IBM have made Watson available on the web as a cloud product and developer “ecosystem” to support the development of what IBM describe as “cognitive apps” – today – you can carry Watson in your pocket!

On the 7th June 2014 computer program Eugene Goostman simulated a 13 year old boy from Odessa in unrestricted conversations – a machine passed the Turing test for the first time

On December 7th 2014 IPsoft launched Amelia – described as “the first cognitive agent who understands like a human … our cognitive knowledge worker, interfaces on human terms. She is a virtual agent who understands what people ask – even what they feel – when they call for service. Amelia can be deployed straight from the cloud in a fraction of the time. She learns as she works and provides high-quality responses consistently, every day of the year, in every language your customers speak”  IPsoft sees Amelia supplementing, or directly replacing, virtually all ‘non-expert, repetitive’ job functions from customer support to expert assistance and back office roles.

Management consultancy Accenture is using Amelia in its cognitive services saying “The cognitive and learning capabilities of the Amelia platform allow it to easily absorb routine processes as well as learn from natural language interactions in order to solve customer problems and respond successfully to a wide range of queries”. Accenture is helping Shell deploy Amelia in its internal training programme, answering queries from learning advisors – “she will observe how advisors interact with staff until she is ready to automate the processes herself.” Baker Hughes is testing Amelia in its financial department on its Accounts Payable helpdesk to address queries from vendors around invoices and payments.

Sean Ammirati writes that Any office job that involves drudgery is a candidate for automation. One way to think about occupations ripe for robots is to look at different professional tasks with a knowable problem and solution – even if it’s really complex to figure out that solution.

Research from the Oxford Martin School at Oxford university suggests that nearly half of all jobs in the US are likely to be automated in the coming decades. The research concludes that  “While computerisation has been historically confined to routine tasks involving explicit rule-based activities  algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labour in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks . In addition, advanced robots are gaining enhanced senses and dexterity, allowing them to perform a broader scope of manual tasks. For workers to win the race, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.

A recent report from Deloitte suggests that Computers and robots are set to replace more than a third of UK jobs in the next twenty years. Work in repetitive processing,  office administration, clerical and support service jobs, sales and transportation are most at risk. The report says that “Although the replacement of people by machines is well understood, the scale and scope of changes yet to come may not be … Unless these changes coming in the next two decades are fully understood and anticipated by businesses, policy makers and educators, there will be a risk of avoidable unemployment and under-employment”

But wait .. there’s more. Brian Arthur writes about the Second Economy – the computer-intensive portion of the economy where machines transact with other machines without humans in a “vast, automatic, and invisible economy without workers thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution

At the very extreme pessimistic end of the spectrum Stephen Hawking thinks that “Artificial Intelligence Could End Human Race”, Nick Bostrom warns that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons and that “artificial intelligence may doom the human race within a century” while Elon Musk hopes “we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence”  that “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon” and “worries Skynet is only five years off

The changes in technology mentioned above suggest radical and pessimistic negative impacts for work and for people but this assumes nothing else changes. However, people are incredibly resourceful  and other views are more optimistic.

Gerd Leonhard suggests that the concept of work as we know it is toast but that many new areas will open up in new or unpredictable niches, with titles we can only guess at at present and that there are all those areas where human soft skills are essential. Many lower-paid but intricate jobs (think electricians or plumbers) with too many variables may be too expensive to automate. And there will surely always be a premium for the human touch in some areas that could be automated – cooking or teaching, for example

Greg Satell gives some useful advice on How to Avoid Being Replaced By A Robot –  learn To Ask Questions, Improve your social skills and go beyond the routine. “the division is no longer between manual and cognitive tasks as much as it is between routine and non-routine work.” Anything that is standardised and routine is at risk of being automated.  Greg leaves us with the optimistic message that by “automating tasks, we are liberating human imagination and the human spirit.  The more we unlock the secrets of technology, the more we find ourselves.”

Andrew McAfee compares the information revolution with the industrial revolution and takes a very optimistic view – “what we’re in the middle of now is overcoming the limitations of our individual brains and infinitely multiplying our mental power. How can this not be as big a deal as overcoming the limitations of our muscles?” … we ain’t seen nothing yet. The best days are really ahead”. Andrew makes the point that “Economies run on ideas. So the work of innovation, the work of coming up with new ideas, is some of the most powerful, some of the most fundamental work that we can do in an economy. In the technology-facilitated world .. the work of innovation is becoming more open, more inclusive, more transparent, and more merit-based.

As automation looks set to impact traditional notions of work and how we work technology changes and a new generation of people emerge that can make the most of the new conditions and potentially reimagine work as we know it. In 2014 Internet traffic from mobile use exceeded PC use for the first time – signalling the start of a new era of anytime, anywhere IT and the potential for anytime, anywhere work. Rather than us having to come to work – work can come to us. Mobile IT combined with social media, cloud and web access are powerful tools in the right hands. New cultural movements like the Maker Movement combined with new technologies like 3D printing, Internet of Things and cheaper more accessible “maker” electronics like Raspberry PI, Adruino and Intel’s Edison suggest potential future artisan economies of scope, creativity and imagination while machines replace more routine and standardised work.

The generation who have “grown up digital” in the 21st century have grown up with the tools we shaped for them – the Net, the Web, mobile phones, smartphones, social networks and social media. Generation Z have grown up with information and communication at their fingertips. Those born in the 21st century will be able to “race with the machines” – and as Greg Satell says “our value will be determined not by how much we know or even how hard we work, but how well we collaborate with machines and with each other”. Research by Sparks & Honey’describes Generation Z as developing their personalities and life skills in a socio-economic environment marked by chaos, uncertainty, volatility and complexity. They have learned that traditional choices don’t guarantee success. They  “Intend to change the world. That entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship is one of their most popular career choices – 72% want to start a business and 61% want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee.

While it seems that a new generation are ready to “race with the machines” John Hagel suggests that our institutions and their organisation are the main problem. He says that “at its core, this isn’t a technological challenge, but an institutional challenge. We’re dealing with a set of institutions that are increasingly inappropriate for the mounting pressure we face. The root cause is how we’ve defined work in companies … one of the issues is this formula for how work is conducted was developed in the last century, and it was based on a set of infrastructures and assumption of a stable environment that made it easy to define standardized highly-scripted work. Now we’re in a world that’s more rapidly changing, more uncertainty, more of those extreme events that Taleb calls the “black swans” that make it really critical for us as individuals in the workplace to take much more initiative, to be constantly exercising creativity and imagination to respond to the unexpected events.  That’s a very different model of work.  It requires a very different way of organizing our institutions and a different set of work practices that are much harder to automate.  Rather than pursuing scalable efficiency, perhaps we need a new set of institutions that can drive scalable learning, helping participants to learn faster by working together.

“We have stone-age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.”— E.O. Wilson

Hagel says that “Until we can develop an alternative institutional model, one that can scale as effectively as the scalable efficiency model, we will face mounting pressure from machines and remain locked in a race against the machine without the ability to finally race with the machine. The problem is how do we innovate our institutions and our work practices so that we, in fact, can start “racing with the machine.”

Ultimately technology may provide a platform to race with machines – a new generation of developers like Vitalik Buterin working with open, autonomous, decentralised technologies suggest could Bootstrap decentralized autonomous corporations where we can work together with other agents on the network … not necessarily knowing whether they are human or not.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Martin will be presenting in the Employee Experience Theatre at the Cloud World Forum, at Olympia Grand in London on the 24th June 2015, on ‘Capitalising on New Technologies: Discussing the Future of Cloud, AI, Robotics, Anticipatory Computing

Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of all the knowledge and networking opportunities presented by EMEA’s only content-led Cloud exhibition.

Register for your FREE exhibition pass here!

CWF static banner

 

Accenture, Huawei target telcos, enterprises with private cloud services #telcocloud

Source: Business Cloud News

Huawei and Accenture have announced a strategic alliance that will see the two firms jointly develop cloud services for telcos and enterprise customers.

The companies plan to jointly develop cloud solutions – including business support systems (BSS) for telcos, and customer care solutions for enterprises – by leveraging Huawei’s deep experience with networking and IT hardware and Accenture’s consulting and systems integration experience.

Accenture will also work to integrate its infrastructure as a service platform with Huawei’s private cloud infrastructure, with a view towards developing integrated private cloud solutions for enterprise customers.

“In an era where the physical and digital worlds are increasingly converging, no enterprise is able to address all customer needs alone. Enterprises need to collaborate openly and integrate their resources and capabilities to help customers succeed,” said Eric Xu, chief executive officer of Huawei.

“Our collaboration with Accenture will further augment Huawei’s business in the enterprise ICT market, enabling us to build on our diverse product portfolio to offer our enterprise and carrier customers even more innovative software and services solutions that support them in boosting efficiency and driving revenue growth,” Xu said.

The companies will focus initially on developing solutions for clients in China, Southeast Asia, and other emerging markets.

“The combination of Accenture’s industry-aligned offerings and reputation for delivery excellence together with a new and enhanced set of offerings based on Huawei’s infrastructure and software products will enable us to better help clients achieve their business requirements with reduced costs, risks and time of implementation,” added Gianfranco Casati, group chief executive – growth markets at Accenture.

Accenture is the latest systems integrator to partner with Huawei, which views SIs as a critical avenue for enterprise penetration. Last month Infosys announced a partnership with the Chinese hardware manufacturer to jointly develop IT solutions that combine Huawei’s cloud infrastructure with service expertise from Infosys.

The two companies plan to build reference architectures and standardised solutions for big data platforms on Huawei hardware infrastructure, and explore setting up a joint lab in China to enable better delivery in all areas of the partnership.

Huawei is also working with a number of Chinese incumbent telcos to roll out cloud-based services to the country’s vast SMB base.

Carphone Warehouse gets into big data through customer journey #bigdataeurope

With retail operations in 8 countries and a growing portfolio of telecommunications services, Carphone Warehouse is currently Europe’s largest independent mobile retail outfit. Paul Scullion, head of business intelligence at Carphone Warehouse explains to Business Cloud News how the company is using a combination of big data technologies to help improve retail customer service and eventually, help telcos improve their offerings.

“We have a vast amount of data but at this point, I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘big data’,” Scullion says. “The majority of our information is transaction-based. But when I think of ‘big data’ it’s all about the [high] velocity of the data; it’s about dynamic data, and the kind of analysis you do with that data.”

But, as Scullion explains, the company has made significant progress towards using old data acquired through traditional BI and capturing new data to do the sorts of things most would normally associate with big data, as hackneyed as the term may be.

A few years ago the company moved away from its Oracle-based data warehouse and adopted Netezza, which is hosted in an IBM datacentre (Netezza was acquired by the company in 2010). He says the data warehouse improved performance significantly because of the way it cuts up the data being targeted processes small bits in parallel before sending the results back.

“The performance over Oracle was epic. We had queries that took an hour or Longer with Oracle that now take less than a minute,” he says.

The company, which partners with Accenture for many IT initiatives, uses Informatica’s ETL platform and has recently adopted MicroStrategy’s mobile analytics and dashbooarding tools, which Scullion helped roll out to all 6,500 UK sales representatives at Carphone Warehouse.

Each sales rep has an Android-based tablet available to them, and it is increasingly becoming the central platform through which a wide range of internal data is accessed. Scullion believes is has the potential to improve sales staff engagement, and makes it easier for the company to support them.

He says some dashboards enable the retail staff to see their sales performance, including the product mix they’re generating, how they’re faring relative to other colleagues. In the main dashboard there’s 7 KPIs per colleague, and each has a ranking and an overall ranking so colleagues can see how they are faring relative to others.

“We are trying to put other supportive applications on that same device, so that retail staff have just one place to go for their internal news and systems rather than needing to navigate a series of back-office terminals and applications, and we are looking at potentially moving our MicroStrategy mobile dashboard platform out into the cloud so that we can benefit from the vendor’s economy of scale.”

Where big data can generate big value

In the UK the tablets are also used to help customers navigate the wide range of device and tariffs available to them, which is where Scullion says the company is really starting to get into big data. Through a series of questions retail staff help customers drill down into how they intend to use their devices, and what it is they’re looking for from a network operator.

“Historically the mobile industry has been a bit bamboozling for customers. They feel like they’re being pressure-sold to by a used car salesman,” he quipped. “But the sales journey tool that we use makes it really transparent for the customer. And critically, we record every step in that journey.”

“What we’re able to do is look at that complete journey, record every step in the journey, every button pressed, every bit of data entered, for journeys that end in a sale but more importantly for ones that don’t end in a sale. And what we’re trying to do is look at where in the process certain pressure points put customers off,” he says, adding that the company is looking to do the same thing with its online sales channels.

Scullion says that many customers come into Carphone Warehouse stores with a preference for certain networks, but after being guided through the tariff options often change their minds, ending up with a different operator for a variety of reasons.

And that data, as one might suspect, is extremely valuable to mobile operators. With telcos looking to big data to boost long-term customer retention among other reasons, and mobile markets becoming more and more competitive, it’s clear there is rapidly increasing demand for this kind of information – particularly  high-volume, multi-channel, multi-operator retail outfit like Carphone Warehouse.

“Certainly the insights we’re gathering on decision-making throughout that sales journey could be used to improve the options networks provide. They could help operators come up with more attractive tariffs; they could also be used to help explain why they may be losing so many customers to another operator,” he says.

Source: Business Cloud News

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: