Google Cloud and Accenture launch new business group

02 August 2018 Consultancy.uk

Global consulting firm Accenture and Google Cloud have forged an alliance to launch a new business group. The joint-venture will see the group help companies to use Google Cloud to develop intelligent solutions leveraging data-driven insights, leveraging Accenture’s industry knowledge in the process.

International professional services firm Accenture has long been recognised as a key figure in the Google Cloud arena. Accenture created its Cloud First Applications team in 2015, and acquired a number of firms, including Cloud Sherpas later that year, to boost the group’s reputation, capabilities and client-base quickly.

Accenture has since become a Google Cloud Partner Award Winner on multiple occasions, most recently being recognised as the 2017 Google Cloud Platform Partner of the Year, due to Accenture’s demonstrated sales, marketing, technical and support for clients, helping them take advantage of the Google Cloud product suite to transform their businesses. The consultancy also has approximately 1,000 practitioners trained on Google Cloud technologies and intends to more than double that number in the next financial year.

Google Cloud and Accenture launch new business group

In the latest step of Accenture’s long-standing relationship with Google Cloud, the two organisations have united to establish the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group (AGBG), which will help companies use Google Cloud technology to help deliver superior customer experiences and accelerate their digital transformation journeys. The new group consists of a team of specialists from both companies and will initially focus on developing cross-industry solutions for clients in Europe, North America and Japan, with a primary emphasis on retail, consumer packaged goods, and the health industry.

Combining Accenture’s extensive industry knowledge with the power of Google Cloud technology, AGBG will allow Accenture and Google Cloud to develop intelligent solutions leveraging data-driven insights. The new group is comprised of a team of specialists from both companies and will initially focus on developing cross-industry solutions for clients in North America, Europe and Japan. Accenture’s Google Cloud Center of Excellence will become part of AGBG, focusing on developing solutions in high-growth areas to accelerate clients’ adoption of Google Cloud.
 
With an initial emphasis on the retail, consumer packaged goods, and health industries, AGBG is designed to permit Accenture and Google Cloud to focus on several areas. Among them are building the next generation of business processes with artificial intelligence, the modernisation of enterprise infrastructure by migrating workloads to the cloud, and creating relevant customer experiences by combining Google Marketing Platform data with other enterprise data sources.

Gene Reznik, Accenture’s Senior Managing Director of Ecosystems & Ventures, said of the new organisation, “We’re making a significant commitment to our clients and investment with Google Cloud to provide intelligent solutions that enterprises need to solve today’s greatest business challenges and become the new leaders in digital. The Accenture Google Cloud Business Group brings together the leading capabilities of Accenture and Google Cloud to fuel the next generation of innovations for organisations around the world.”

Kevin Ichhpurani, Google Cloud’s Corporate Vice President of Business Development, added, “Google Cloud and Accenture have a long history of delivering incredible value to our joint customers. The launch of the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group will help us supercharge those efforts as companies globally look to modernize their computing environment for today’s digital world.”

See: Accenture buys Certus Solutions to further Oracle capabilities in the UK.

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Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.