IT consulting and services giant Accenture is spending $3 billion on assets, startups, talent and partnerships aimed at staking out a leading position in the fields of generative and predictive AI.
Beyond the raw investment of money, Accenture said that its data and AI practice will double in size, from 40,000 to 80,000, “through a mix of hiring, acquisitions and training.”
The company will also create startup accelerators for AI readiness, focusing on 19 different industries, and will look to generate pre-built models suitable for use in those industries.
The move comes two months after the company said it would lay off 19,000 staffers, or 2.5% of its workforce, to reduce costs amid uncertain macroeconomic conditions.
However, about half those cuts, Accenture said, would be from back-office staff involved in nonbillable work, and the company did specify at the time that “we continue to hire, especially to support our strategic growth priorities.”
Accenture also announced a new AI Navigator for Enterprise product, which it describes as a system to help users make business decisions about AI, create business cases for its use and understand the type of modeling and algorithms required to accomplish particular tasks. (The product is, itself, powered by generative AI.)
“Companies that build a strong foundation of AI by adopting and scaling it now, where the technology is mature and delivers clear value, will be better positioned to reinvent, compete and achieve new levels of performance,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s chair and CEO.
“Our clients have complex environments, and at a time when the technology is changing rapidly, our deep understanding of ecosystem solutions allows us to help them navigate quickly and cost effectively to make smart decisions.”
Accenture was also eager to talk up the company’s history in AI, noting that AI is already used in platforms like myWizard process automation, SynOps for business operations intelligence, and myNav for cloud architecture design.
The company was also working on a responsible AI framework six years ago, which, it said, outlines “rigorous” guidelines for the use of AI, and said that it’s already working on generative AI projects with clients as diverse as hotel groups and judicial systems.
Accenture isn’t the first consultancy firm to announce major investments into AI. PWC stated in April that they would spend $1 billion on a partnership with Microsoft and OpenAI to adapt the latter’s generative AI technology for use in tax and auditing services, according to the Wall Street Journal. And Bain and Company announced a similar AI deal with OpenAI in February, with Coca-Cola as the first client.