Relentless Craving To Learn And Adapt To Changes Will Define Success In Evolving Landscape: Mohan Sekhar, Senior MD, Accenture
Two of the key hurdles for organizations undergoing workforce transformation are mindset and skill barriers, says Mohan Sekhar, Senior Managing Director and Global Lead, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers
in an interview with BW People, Mohan Sekhar, Senior Managing Director and Global Lead, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers talks about digital transformation int the workplace, barriers to digital transformation and industry ready skills.
How is digital transformation shaping up the workplace and how is Accenture aligning with this change?
Disruption led by new and emerging technologies is redefining businesses and enabling a digital transformation that is unique. It is picking up speed and transforming everything it touches. For organizations to successfully drive digital transformation, leaders need to keep up with these technology developments, embrace disruption, and build new skills, processes, services and work methods.
Having recognized that driving innovation is critical for competitive differentiation, we took the strategic decision to invest in our people early on to enable them to help clients to be the digital disruptors. Over the last few years, we have invested over USD 1 billion every year globally in learning and talent development, to ensure that our people have the needed skills in new and emerging technologies, so we can respond to changing market forces, and realize new opportunities.
How has Accenture assisted its workforce to keep up with the pace of digital transformation?
As a talent- and innovation-led organization, a key goal at Accenture is to have the best people, with highly specialized skills to drive our differentiation and competitiveness. At the heart of our learning and development investment is Accenture Connected Learning, our global inhouse learning environment which enables us to deliver highly personalized, continuous learning, anywhere and anytime. It curates the best content available and delivers it through a combination of virtual, video-based and traditional classroom training.
Our learning charter at our Advanced Technology Centers in India spans a wide array of dimensions covering technology, delivery, industry, leadership and professional skill domains for all career levels, coupled with newer ways of working more closely with clients. Today, over 85 percent of our people at ATCI have been trained in New IT skills such as digital, cloud, AI, automation, security, design thinking, agile, DevOps and intelligent platforms, and new ways of working that enable co-innovation with clients.
What role do culture and innovation mindset play in successful digital transformation? Could you elaborate on how you managed this transformation internally?
For organizations to truly transform, culture and mindset play a crucial role. What has helped us accelerate the rotation of our organizations to the new, is our focus on building an innovation-led culture at grass root levels. For instance, our annual Innovation Contest at ATCI inspires our employees globally to develop ideas that can help our clients in their pursuit of customer-centric innovation. We have been conducting our annual Innovation Contest across ATCs and in FY19, we have received more than 62,000 ideas from our people in India to drive innovation by combining the power of digital, deep industry experience, creativity, and technology.
What are the barriers to workforce transformation in the digital age?
Two of the key hurdles for organizations undergoing workforce transformation are mindset and skill barriers. Employees need to continuously invest in learning to stay relevant and organizations should enable this through a content-rich ecosystem. Most importantly, organizations should focus on shifting the mindset from “training to learning” and continuously invest in new approaches to learning to make it experiential, engaging and self-satisfying.
At Accenture, for example, we believe learning happens anytime, anywhere, and therefore we enable our people to learn at their pace in an environment that brings out their best and with people (cohorts), who are equally enthusiastic. Our learning boards cover a wide range of topics and provide our employees with byte-sized learning modules, which are aligned to our business and client requirements, thereby providing our people with opportunities to work on leading-edge engagements.
How important is it for employees to be aligned to digital transformation? How does upskilling help with this?
With the rapid adoption of AI and related technologies, most of the emerging roles in the future will be fulfilled by people and machines working together in the dynamic space. To successfully drive an organization-wide transformation, organizations and employees must realize common aspirations, and inculcate a culture that values education and lifelong learning. As an industry leader, we identified the market shifts taking place much earlier than the rest of the industry and established a goal to rotate our business to the new, to develop and offer leading-edge services to our clients. Talent transformation was a key element in this “rotation to the new” agenda, and we laid a strong emphasis on building our capabilities and preparing our people in emerging, advanced technologies.
Upskilling our people was essential to determine their, and consequently our success in the marketplace. To achieve this goal, we created a culture and environment that incentivizes our people to continuously learn and innovate irrespective of level and role. We curated several learning paths across career levels spanning various dimensions of skills and roles that people perform. Lastly, we measure their proficiency levels at every stage and instruct them on how to move to higher levels.
What needs to be done to impart industry-ready skills to students? Has Accenture introduced upskilling programmes for future talent to be job-ready?
Technology innovation and disruption is occurring at an unprecedented pace today and this constant evolution is challenging for all constituents of the industry - enterprises, technology service providers, education institutions and talent alike.
Skills are constantly evolving and are very different from the IT industry that was built in India over the past couple of decades. There is a gap in the talent available and the current and evolving needs of the industry. While universities must update the curriculum on an ongoing basis to keep pace with the industry, academia and industry must collaborate better to enable students to succeed.
Accenture’s Advanced Technology Centers in India, for example, is investing in multiple programs to collaborate with educational institutions and enable both faculty and students with a better understanding of the marketplace and the industry’s expectations of skills and capabilities. As part of the Accenture Learning Symposium, our new learning program for campus hires, we undertake several programs to collaborate with engineering colleges in India.
Lastly but importantly, students should inculcate an agile learning culture and continuously learn to stay relevant in today’s world of constant change. People who have relentless craving to learn and adapt to changes will succeed in the evolving landscape.