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Video Quick Take: Accenture’s Ramnath Venkataraman Leveraging the Power of Technology to Drive Business Growth

Video Quick Take: Accenture’s Ramnath Venkataraman Leveraging the Power of Technology to Drive Business Growth

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Welcome to the HBR Video Quick Take. I’m Todd Pruzan, senior editor for research and special projects at Harvard Business Review. CEOs are racing to re-platform their businesses in the cloud and have a digital core that enables them to continuously improve their operations and find new sources of growth. Ramnath Venkataraman is Accenture’s integrated global services lead responsible for technology sales, solutioning, assets, offerings, and Accenture’s advanced technology centers around the world. He’s here today to talk to us about technology transformation. Ramnath, thank you so much for being with us today.

Ramnath Venkataraman, Accenture

Delighted to be here, Todd.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Ramnath, technology transformation has become a C-suite agenda. But why now? And what can the C-suite achieve with it?

Ramnath Venkataraman, Accenture

You know, Todd, we are living in an era of compressed transformation. And why do I say compressed transformation? What does it mean? It’s probably best highlighted through research that we did pre-pandemic and midway through the pandemic.

We interviewed and did primary research with 8,000-odd C-suite executives split equally between business executives and technology executives and repeated that with about 4,000 executives spread across the globe, across different industries. And the outcome of that research and the findings were very, very interesting. Organizations that said they’re leveraging the power of technology to really drive business growth and it was pervasive showed quantum impact on their revenues.

And we call them leaders. These are really the top 10% of the respondents. And the bottom 25% that we call laggards really had a huge difference in what their business performance looked like. And that’s really why technology transformation is critical.

And when I said compressed transformation, does it mean that only leaders take away everything? Or is there an opportunity for others too? There is a new category that emerged, which we called leapfroggers, which is about 20% of the respondents. And they were growing at 4 times the laggards, which means that there is an opportunity for everybody to leverage the power of technology and drive technology transformation and put it at the heart of the business.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

So how does an organization get started with such a major change program?

Ramnath Venkataraman, Accenture

So, Todd, that’s always the most difficult part, right? Where do you start? And the best way to start is to do a diagnostic assessment of where you sit as an organization as compared to leaders in your industry segment. That’s really the first step.

And the way Accenture thinks about technology transformation is really breaking this down into five specific pillars, starting with strategy. What do I mean by strategy? Having the C-suite agenda, comparing yourself with what leaders in the industry segment are doing, charting a path from point A to point B, and making sure that you have a co-created set of programs that you drive that gets you from point A to point B.

Second, build a cloud foundational pillar. Have a strategy that helps you design something which is going to be very, very strong, resilient for the future, and brings in the right kind of agility.

Third, it’s not just about the technology foundation but also building in the practices that align at the top with the north star objective. It starts with what the business wants to achieve and then cascades that down into the technology organization, which means you are moving away from a horizontal construct to a vertical construct.

Four, embed sustainability within everything that you do. Sustainability in leveraging the power of technology and sustainability in technology. And what do I mean by sustainability in technology? You need to adopt really green software engineering practices that make sure that the manufacturing process of technology is also green apart from achieving the ESG objectives.

And, five, make sure that talent transformation is very much a part of this agenda. Because without transforming the talent, everything else is not sustainable and is not going to continue over a long period of time. So, technology transformation is a very, very significant component of the agenda. Now, where do organizations start?

Is it always sequential? Not necessarily. You need to customize the path based on your maturity and your immediate priority. You can start with cloud and move left and right. You can start with practices and move left and right. Or you can start with strategy and then go in a sequential manner. So, the path needs to be extremely customized based on what your maturity levels are and where your end journey is going to be based on your desire.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

And, well, why transform in the first place? What are the benefits?

Ramnath Venkataraman, Accenture

In the beginning, I spoke about leaders and leapfroggers who are doing enough to make sure that they are thriving. It’s very, very critical to make sure that they continue to transform and get to the next stage of evolution and thrive in the business. For others, it’s a question of survival and then thriving.

So, it’s an imperative that is really here and now. The best way is to highlight an example of where Accenture has worked with the telco, wherein they had an estate, which is legacy, and they wanted to move to something which is not focusing on keeping the lights on and run costs but really driving technology for business growth.

We took that technology estate, drove aggressive automation through artificial intelligence, and took costs out by about 25%. Now, not just that, their agility and speed to market have improved by 50%. And guess what, A80% of their talent is redirected toward newer activities that are focused on growth rather than keeping the lights on.

So, technology transformation now is absolutely critical. That is one example. And there are hundreds that tell you that it’s something that should be a top-down C-suite agenda and should be pursued here and now.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

OK, well, Ramnath, this has been a great discussion. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Ramnath Venkataraman, Accenture

Thank you, Todd. It was a pleasure.

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