Accenture aims to accelerate AI adoption

The global services company is creating a new artificial intelligence practice around IPsoft's Amelia cognitive agent, with an initial focus of deploying virtual agent technology for clients in the banking, insurance and travel industries.

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Global services juggernaut Accenture is partnering with IT and business process automation specialist IPsoft to build a new Accenture practice dedicated to bringing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to global enterprises.

Earlier this week, the partners announced the creation of an Accenture Amelia practice built around IPsoft's Amelia cognitive agent, an AI that emulates human intelligence and can communicate with natural language. IPsoft has positioned Amelia as "your first digital employee" — one that can take on a wide range of service desk roles.

"This cutting-edge new practice is going to give our clients more artificial intelligence firepower by accelerating their ability to apply AI to significantly improve their operations and create new growth opportunities for their business," says Paul Daugherty, CTO, Accenture. "One of the ways Accenture is going to do this is by using IPsoft's Amelia Platform to develop artificial intelligence strategies, solutions and consulting services for our clients in the banking, insurance and travel industries."

Taking AI to the market

Accenture plans to use the Amelia platform to develop go-to-market strategies, solutions and consulting service offerings around deployments of virtual agent technology. The company says the banking, insurance and travel industries will be the initial focus.

[ Related: What does the future hold for artificial intelligence? ]

"Artificial intelligence is maturing rapidly and offers great potential to reshape the way that organizations conduct business and interact with their customers and employees," Daugherty said in a statement. "At the same time, executives are overwhelmed by the plethora of technologies and many products that are advertising AI or cognitive capabilities. We are taking an important step forward in advancing the business potential of artificial intelligence to help clients transform their business and operations."

The survey says: Invest in AI

Accenture is making this move based on research in its Technology Vision 2016 report (a survey of 3,100 business and IT executives from 11 countries and 12 industries), which found that 70 percent of corporate executives are making significantly more investments in AI-related technologies than two years ago — 55 percent said they plan on using machine learning and embedded artificial intelligence.

According to research firm IDC, the worldwide content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software market will grow from $4.5 billion in 2014 to $9.2 billion in 2019.

[ Related: Accenture invests in artificial intelligence R&D ]

"As digitization goes mainstream, the global enterprises are under considerable pressure to reinvent themselves," says Chetan Dube, president and CEO, IPsoft. "The challenge is how to achieve such a transformation. Accenture brings in deep industrial knowledge, an ability to scale to assist in such a transformation."

"We are at a turning point in seeing CEOs take the decision to adopt true digital labor as their differentiation strategy," he added in a statement. "By equipping Amelia with Accenture's deep industry knowledge, technology skills and ability to scale, we can together help enterprises realize the full potential of artificial intelligence technology as it reaches maturity."

IPsoft already has industry wins under its belt. Enterprises already integrating Amelia into their businesses include the following:

  • A global oil and gas company that has trained Amelia to answer invoice queries from its suppliers
  • A European bank that has deployed Amelia within its IT function; IPsoft notes that successfully deploying the cognitive agent took only 45 days from project start
  • A large U.S.-based media services organization that taught Amelia how to support first line agents in customer service
  • A global bank that has successfully tested Amelia's ability to support its network of mortgage brokers by providing guidance on policy details

"The creation of an Accenture Amelia practice will have a significant impact on the emerging market for AI," Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS Research, said in a statement. "Accenture's services capabilities and focus on AI, combined with IPsoft's strong positioning across HfS' Intelligent Automation Continuum, spanning both Autonomics Platforms and Cognitive Computing, promises a new threshold of value for customers."

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