Sifting through marketing material - landing pages, whitepapers, emails, case studies - to determine which technology vendors to leverage to take your company to the next digital level can be difficult at best.
Serving the right content to the right people at the right time and on any channel or device they find themselves on now or in the future sounds great, really - particularly when the enterprise has access to all offline and online activity to ensure data is exchanged flawlessly between people and platforms. There are, in fact, vendors that can provide this functionality and others to solve even the most complex business problems and take advantage of even the most futuristic technology, but a company's initiative grows in cost and complexity as systems need integrated, migrated, replaced. The need, however, is there as nimble startups rapidly disrupt industries and change how end-users expect products and services to function and be delivered.
Enter technology partners, who can be costly in their own right but can develop and deliver an enterprise's vision for the future of their products or services in a way they may have struggled to with in-house resources only.
Website Magazine enlisted the help of Chris Krammer, global managing director of technology at Accenture to provide readers with additional* insights into choosing the "right" digital transformation partner. For a vendor perspective on the same topic, check out our Q&A with Sitecore's Darren Guarnaccia. Let's get started.
What should come first for companies looking to undergo big digital transformations: finding a technology product or finding a partner who then finds the solution; and why?
Chris Krammer, Accenture: Digital transformation starts with prioritizing a superior and relevant customer experience and aligning the organization, processes and technology to achieve it. Every digital transformation journey will be different and adjusted on the fly - keeping customers means constantly adapting to their changing needs. Technology is playing an unprecedented role in this transformation by determining existing capabilities, creating a roadmap and implementing new platforms or solutions. Many companies struggle to keep pace with the vast number of technology platforms, solutions and services, and this is where an experienced partner can come in. A technology partner can sift through the multitude of technology options and help find the best solution for a business's unique needs.
Glancing at the Accenture Alliance Ecosystem, your company works with dozens of technologies, some of which are direct competitors. Please explain how IT solutions are chosen for a client.
Krammer: Accenture has established formal and informal alliance relationships with hundreds of technology companies globally. To help our clients derive value from our network of alliances, Accenture has a global staff of highly trained technology and alliance professionals that have a wide range of experience and expertise - we know the market, we know the players, and we know the products and offerings. For instance, Accenture was recently named Global Partner of the Year by SAP Hybris, as well as the number one provider of global services for Salesforce.com. We always act vendor agnostic and run a neutral capabilities assessment before we start with the vendor selection.
Does Accenture work outside that Alliance Ecosystem for various clients?
Krammer: We do often work with vendors that we do not have a formal alliance with. Our recently launched Accenture Touchless Testing Platform combines innovations from Accenture with tools from leading players such as Conformiq, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel Saffron, Sauce Labs, Tableau, Tricentis and Worksoft. While we don't have formal alliance agreements in place with all these vendors, we are working together join leading open source, commercial and Accenture proprietary tools and algorithms to automate a robust, touchless testing process for software - all guided by artificial intelligence and analytics.
What are the benefits of working with an implementation partner?
Krammer: Many companies simply don't have the time or expertise to manage a digital transformation. Implementation partners often have more resources for a technology deployment, including a global staff and in-house experts. Additionally, a implementation partner may have more experience and access to vendor solutions.
For over a year Accenture has been working closely with SAP in the core and industry development and go-to-market of SAP¬¨¬®‚àö√ú Business Suite 4 SAP HANA. Accenture developers and industry experts are working side by side with SAP, providing us with unique input, insight and development opportunities with SAP S/4HANA. This has resulted in solutions such as a customer engagement platform designed specifically for the utilities industry that combines the SAP S/4HANA Utilities solution with SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer and SAP Multichannel Foundation to enable more agile and easier to use sales and service processes and efficient meter to cash management.
How does Accenture help derive value from clients' technology investments?
Krammer: Accenture brings a wealth of knowledge to the table from a long history of successful technology implementations. This includes best practices that are industry-specific and an eye on what's next. We've been an alliance partner with SAP for over 40 years, with one of the largest SAP practice groups available. For business solutions around human capital management, finance and customer experience, Accenture has introduced High Velocity solutions - based on best practices and pre-configured, proven implementation methods to help clients realize a faster time to value.
What are common mistakes enterprises make when purchasing new technology?
Krammer: With so many options available, companies need to set clear objectives before starting on journey to digital. This will allow companies to more easily identify the right tools, cutting down on time and expense through a carefully targeted approach. Without a clearly defined, company-wide strategy, different departments may begin to use different tools, resulting in lost opportunities for cooperation and connection. Companies also need to ensure that key stakeholders from all business areas are invested - digital transformation is not just an IT project.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Krammer: If you aren't thinking digital, you're already behind. Research from Accenture in 2016 shows that 82 percent of business leaders expect their organizations to be a digital business in the next three years. That said, digital gains aren't always immediately obvious. Companies must look at digital transformation as part of a lasting vision for change, making long-term investments instead of focusing only on point solutions that promise a fast payoff. Technology solutions are converging in new ways to create new experiences - for instance, customer relationship management meshing with the internet of things and augmented reality - to build new services and unique, differentiated customer experiences.
* Insights from this interview can also be found in Website Magazine's upcoming June 2017 issue. Subscribe here.
Head of analyst relations, public relations, customer advocacy (People Heroes), customer community, content marketing (full funnel/lifecycle), content operations and optimization, reputation management and social media. Leads a team of nine superstars to exceed our goals multi-fold.