Accenture Review TV #6 –Digital Human
Hello, and welcome to the sixth episode of Accenture Review TV, the last in the series. And that means – it's time for a summary. In today's episode, our guests and we will try to recap the recent changes that have happened in business. We'll discuss the role of the client as the center of remote attention as we had to work with them remotely. We'll also be talking about how technology has been influencing our lives and the lives of businesses, and what could be done to keep up this growth momentum in a post-pandemic world.
Sounds like we have a finale-worthy agenda today. - Without further ado, let us begin! - Hope you enjoy it! It's my pleasure to welcome our first guest, Paweł Jakubik, board member of Microsoft Poland. And since we have a hybrid meeting today, as is typical recently, our second guest has joined us online: Andrzej Grofowalski, CIO of InPost. Welcome! - Hello, it's good to see you all. - Hello.
Gentlemen, I'll start with a question for the both of you: In our previous episodes, we spoke with our guests about the changes in business, changes in the world brought about by the pandemic, and how fast digitalization has accelerated as a result, but to give you some food for thought, and talk futurology in hindsight, or create parallel universes, where you think we'd stand at the moment, if not for the pandemic? You go first, Andrzej. That's a very interesting question, I think a lot would be different. I saw a meme recently, a favorite of mine, asking about who spearheads digitalization efforts in your company. You had the CEO, CIO, and the coronavirus with the latter being the most selected answer. The pandemic really has accelerated our capability to work remotely, or to work using a hybrid model, which has become a staple at many companies, even though we don't really have to shut down our offices anymore. I think, looking at it from InPost's point of view, the pandemic also caused a faster rollout of certain innovations.
Certain projects we were already developing quickly, implementing new services, or finding ways to attract new clients. I'm talking about the ParcelLockers we placed by state-run offices when the need for those came up. We launched contactless package scanning with QR codes. All this probably wouldn't have happened if not for Covid and this need born out of quite unexpected circumstances. It surprised everyone, and for us, it created new opportunities which we have been using successfully.
By expanding our services, expanding our client portfolio, and also by changing the way we work, in my opinion, in a positive way. Of course, we can look at it more broadly, from a societal perspective, which is definitely negative. However, when it comes to the business model, but also the way our teams can work remotely nowadays, even though they had been previously collocated, it's all a positive change. We are now more accepting of the needs of our remote workers than we ever had been in the past. If not for the pandemic, none of this would have come to pass, or at least, it would have taken much longer. It's also likely that before the pandemic, we would have invited you here, and now it's completely normal that you're joining us remotely.
Paweł, I have the same question for you. What's your perspective on the matter? I wanted to bring up several issues. We definitely have to separate the awful tragedy and human suffering related to the pandemic and the deaths, which are over 70 thousand in Poland over this past year. I think that's the dark side we all see, but on the other hand, you have to look at the world of technology, business, digitalization. We definitely wouldn't be where we are, I think what Andrzej said is true, that Covid was kind of a trigger here, a phenomenon that caused us to accelerate.
On that note, I wonder if our hosts think Accenture Review TV would have started - without the pandemic, - That's a good point. - as fast and successfully as it did. - [laughs] I think for us, what happened with the cloud and other tech, that would have gone on regardless, because the cloud project in Poland was a planned investment from way before.
But I do think we wouldn't have seen such fast development. Let me give an example: today, we would still likely be using handwritten signatures in many organizations. Yet, because of the lockdown, because you couldn't get a hold of people in offices to sign documents for you, the digital signature that you and I, Karol, fought for nearly a decade to implement on the market digitally, all the paperless projects that took off, that's all an incredible achievement.
But naturally, I don't think InPost would have seen such an incredible IPO in Amsterdam, Andrzej, if not for your positive explosion of business growth in the last year. I can't say if there would be so much interest around InPost. So that's my multifaceted summary. Exactly. Yes? I think the success of InPost is more broadly the success of the whole e-commerce industry, which profited a lot. Retail sales moved online.
It's very clearly visible today. There are no lines in shopping malls, even though shopping is allowed now, although that varies a lot, but it is a new business model, new trends we can thank Covid for, ridiculous as it sounds, to say Covid is to be thanked for anything. And Andrzej, to speak more on that, I wanted to ask you this: I can see myself how much you've grown over the past year and a half or so.
Like Paweł mentioned, your great IPO debut and other things, international growth. Tell us some more about the past year and a half. What has happened, how did the pandemic surprise you initially, or did it not, what you were able to achieve, what were your breakthroughs our viewers would definitely love to hear about and find out more about? The past 1.5 years at our company certainly involved more rapid growth when it comes to our network of ParcelLockers. Also, new clients, marketplaces, I mean, but also the fantastic development of our mobile app, which is taking the world by storm, bringing in ever more satisfied customers. Our NPS is also constantly growing, meaning we are definitely gaining as a brand.
The trust placed upon us by our investors as part of our IPO also shows we can provide the highest-quality products and services, that we do take care of our customers, and that we're able to meet their expectations head-on in a way that's effective and expected of us by our customers. Of course, we keep growing, not only in Poland, but also abroad. Our network of ParcelLockers in the UK, in Britain, has been growing rapidly, just like we intended it to.
The same goes for in the other markets, in Italy, and recently, we announced publicly that we're expecting to take over the second largest logistics operator on the French market, Mondial Relay. Let's keep watching and waiting to see what comes next. I hope we can surprise everyone with our presence in France and other countries where Mondial already has an expansive proprietary network, which right now primarily consist of so-called PUDO points, which is not quite the same as our ParcelLocker model, but I believe by combining the two we can grow even stronger, larger, and it's going to be a really, really interesting phenomenon in Europe. - That's great to hear! - Exactly. Paweł, now to you. Andrzej's story shows that the past year was really intense for InPost.
We've heard very similar stories from our previous guests, including representatives from the e-commerce industry. It must have also been an intense year for Microsoft. Everyone had to switch to remote work.
Microsoft Teams saw much more activity. For your clients, it was also an intense year, as the next will likely also be. You're preparing to launch Azure in Poland.
We were wondering what it would be like if the pandemic hadn't happened, so maybe you'd like to tell us, what you think will happen once the pandemic is over? How do we keep this tempo up, without this rather unfortunate trigger in the form of the coronavirus to make sure digitalization and economic changes keep going at the same staggering pace? I think we can discuss two primary aspects here. Certainly, the companies that saw a lot of profit during the lockdown, this last nearly 1.5 year-long period, like Jowita mentioned, with InPost as an example of growth, how will they maintain their momentum with all their projects and innovations? This, I believe, is the main focus of both these companies and their partners to ensure they can continue at this pace. I think InPost will do so through acquisitions, like Andrzej said, this will be their avenue to try and keep up this speed.
And on the other hand, there will be sectors that noted significant losses. The depreciation that happened with hotels, tourism, airlines, these are the businesses that you would think would rebound rapidly, but remember that nobody's really gone through anything like this before today. Humanity is now for the first time in modern times facing such a crisis and history is unfolding in front of us. So here you have the rebounding problem. Where do you start, what actions will help and how can you rebound sustainably, meaning in a way that lasts for some time? What we have observed is that the hybrid working model is here to stay.
Research confirms that, experts say that, analyses say that. As a result, companies that begin to rebound will have to restructure their business models. Let's not forget that by digitalizing you can't move each analog process to digital on a 1:1 basis. - Oh, we know that by now! - That's what certain research has shown. You have to build everything digitally from the ground up.
And so, examples such as InPost today, or CCC, or E-obuwie, who were guests last time, but also Żabka, PKO BP, which is a great example of a large business that maintained a high uptime and simultaneous acceleration. It seems the key will be to balance the two. I think the leading group who are ahead of the pack will keep up this pace, maybe not all, but the rebounders and the returning businesses will quickly want to catch up to the leaders.
The question is: in which sectors will these be? I strongly believe we are going to see, we spoke lots about being client-centric. Today, I would change that to putting "people at the center of attention," so it could be "patient at the center of attention," "citizen at the center of attention," "consumer at the center of attention," everything focused on us as the person, or the character, and I believe these companies will profit. Being patient-centered, and I'm sure that healthcare is one of those leaders picking up speed, even though it was digitalizing very slowly over the last few decades. These will be the examples. I'm convinced it will happen. I also hope these will be public and private initiatives. I'm not convinced that only the public or only the private will manage to do it.
These things need to happen in tight partnerships. And I really believe that examples of such partnerships will show us how to proceed properly. People at the center of remote attention.
Yes. Paweł, you segued perfectly into my next question, this time for Andrzej. Like many Poles, I am a customer of InPost, and I'm really fond and appreciative of your client-centric approach because it's very visible. It's an easy, pleasant, transparent, intuitive service that also works great on mobile. So, a question to you, Andrzej, since our viewers really want to know, what does the back-end look like? How does your IT team operate, what solutions do you use to enable such a degree of client-centrism? Thank you for this question, because yes, being client-centric is in our DNA.
It's our company motto, and we've always paid lots of attention to ensuring high-quality service and full customer satisfaction. This motto also motivates how our CEO, Rafał, operates, how the whole board operates, and our teams as well. Whenever we hire new people, we check to see if they would fit at InPost. Is their way of thinking similar, do they operate like us, caring about the client, but also more.
We look for drive, enthusiasm, and the willingness to work fast and hard. Let's be real here, to get ahead of your competition, you have to keep innovating, keep surprising the market, keep offering new services. That's the way our IT department operates, and the way we build our systems. We are really open to new technologies, we launch interesting projects. We're about to enter the cloud, we plan on implementing AI technology as well.
We're big proponents of data. In fact, we recently recruited a new Chief Data Officer from a big organization. We're launching many interesting projects focused on innovation that will allow us to build the foundation for even faster growth and even more customer care by expanding our services. We're able to implement these great projects because we work on a great team.
If there are specialists, experts, or managers who would like to join our ranks, consider yourselves invited. We are expanding rapidly, new people join us all the time, we have positions open in many different departments. I think this shows how InPost operates. We keep growing, keep building up our great, very dynamic team. That was a bit of self-promotion,
but I understand that… Well, I could show more only to those that end up joining us, what our systems look like. I can say that we utilize top-of-the-line technology. Kafka, Kubernetes, we are in the cloud and want to be even more. These are the aspects that could very well attract new hires, but it also speaks to our work ethic that I think is quite unique. That's what I would say after working here for almost two years, that it differs from the other companies where I worked up until now.
That sounds like a great incentive because I think it's one of the companies that, at least in Poland, people are looking toward, so a great place to work on the one hand, and on the other, you speak a lot about the atmosphere, and especially in times of even greater turbulence than what we've seen so far, the work atmosphere and workplace efficiency must be very interesting for potential candidates. Indeed. And on the topic of teams and competence, I have a question for Paweł: this subject comes up regularly in conversations with our guests. Technologies are accessible,
but in order to use them correctly, we need properly motivated and competent teams who know how to make the most of their competence. There's been an enormous uptick in certificates, for example in cloud services, like yours. What does it look like from your perspective, from the perspective of Microsoft, both as, let's say the employer and service provider, but also a market stimulator, which provides technological solutions? I have to admit, we are a bit puzzled here ourselves, a bit surprised by our results when it comes to increasing our digital capabilities. We exceeded our last year's expectations three times. In this first year after announcing the Polish Digital Valley with our partners. Literally last week, we announced 105,000 new Polish software engineers, IT hires, thanks to Microsoft's partners and Microsoft employees, thanks to all our training programs, like LinkedIn Learning, which has been growing amazingly. 105,000 new digitally competent hires.
What's interesting here is, we were always worried that Poland had been building sort of the foundation of cloud computing, of technology, that we've been building the base layers, and we're still waiting and delaying to start with making the service layers, the top layers, that the world is leaving us in the dust. And I read in the summary of the competencies, that among those 105,000 people, Data AI certificates were the most popular and increased eight-fold. I'm happy that you, Andrzej, said something about data projects.
Besides, we are collaborating on a project utilizing Microsoft Azure fantastically for InPost. And this shows a certain level of interest. If you look at other elements, like infrastructure, or applications, or the modern work environment, they grew 2.5 times versus 8 times. But let's not get carried away. This is only the first 105,000.
We have to train as many as 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 to get a sufficient number of digitally competent people in. I really like the programs directed at women. All the programs for young students, no matter the gender, of IT schools, but also other types of schools as well, who are learning Python or some No-code applications, this is also significant. So my message to the market is: let's not slow down this education. Without the legion of IT-sector employees, we won't attain full digitalization.
I was recently able to listen to Prof. Śledziewska, manager of DELab at the University of Warsaw, and she said when it comes to digitalization, Poland still has a certain level of digital immaturity in the context of end-to-end solutions. Without the necessary competencies, we won't overcome this challenge. I'm really happy Accenture is growing so quickly, too, I know you have some new cloud-competent hires. You also announced the opening of Avanade, which will be an additional way to provide even more digital resources for Poland. I think it's definitely multi-dimensional.
What I feel is lacking is a sort of central initiative to convert this into a strategic point at the state level. It's a bit too dispersed. I think the national cloud is doing very well. There are definitely many, many directions that show strategies for fostering competence, but we could definitely use more. Particularly at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, where there are commissioners for digitalization, we see various point-based solutions, but it's lacking any platform-like functionality, which is what I believe we will be working on together over the coming months.
Paweł, it's great you bring up the topic of education, it's one very dear to me. Hard tech skills are one thing, and the other involves educating all of our society, at least in the basics. That's what we do as well. I can say that our Digital Transformation Expert program is meant for people who need training in the basics of technology, because today it's not just IT, but marketing, all the other sectors. Everyone needs to understand what technology is to help their companies stay on top of the rapid changes. Right now, when we look at the progress of our program, the majority of people who see it through to the end are women.
- That's great. - So here's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you're right, we all need to be working on this, there's a lot to do because your 105,000 people, or our numbers - are just the start. - It's just the beginning. It's been very nice talking to both of you, and I have the final question now. And since this episode is a rather interesting one because it marks the end of our first six-episode series, I would like you to tell me, if you could address our viewers and give them a word of advice or two, that you think is the most important learning to be done, or something that you learned throughout the pandemic. What would it be? What do you want to share? What's your best tip? It's been a tough year and a half, it's not even over yet. The future remains unclear for now, we don't know how much is still ahead.
What's your advice? Andrzej, let's start with you. I would say that since we mentioned education, I would tell the thousands of students at different schools to pursue knowledge in the IT sector, in the digital sector, to decrease the imbalance between supply and demand that we're dealing with today. Definitely, there are not enough specialists today who are knowledgeable about cloud technologies, technologies that have to do with coding in modern programming languages.
It's definitely a problem that's becoming more pronounced, especially during the pandemic with all the new projects, where tech companies are seeing record numbers related to interest in their services. I think it should be one of our core conclusions to draw today. Let's focus on quality education. I'm saying this to institutions of higher education, but also to employers. Let's give people the opportunities to train, or to retrain as it often happens because today, platforms like RPA and automation require these skills greatly, and it is possible to train people to obtain them quite quickly, maybe not quite so simply, and definitely not cheaply, but I urge everyone to invest in this. Soon this will visibly impact
our entire economy. This, I think, is my main observation. For business owners, I think my advice is to follow in the footsteps of InPost. And well, let me be honest, we are always going to be one step ahead, and the coronavirus, what we learned from it is definitely not going to waste. We keep learning, keep pushing more and more, with more effectiveness. I think that's it.
So business owners: think like InPost. Grow in difficult times, instead of simply stagnating. Paweł, what are your thoughts? What would you like to share? I would go back to one thought. We used to talk about this a lot during conferences and it keeps coming back. Now I think it's more relevant than ever.
In the context of accelerating digitalization, don't lose sight of the soft skills. The post-pandemic world is different. People are different.
I think new habits have formed, new stereotypes, new inhibitions. I think empathy will be key. Don't be scared to bring psychologists onto our teams. Better coaching, better mentoring, paying attention to diversity, inclusivity, and stereotypes: these are not just buzzwords. These are things that work, that help, and I think this empathy, if it's there, it makes delivering our goals easier, and the progress of the leaders and the rebounders will be quicker. So the first takeaway for me is the matter of the soft stuff.
The second one I would say, per sector, so banking, insurance, the public sector, administration, e-commerce, retail, service, industry, manufacturing, let's think and let's work together with consultants. Their services are very, very important. They help consult on certain ideas. Let's think of how we can keep up this pace of development from the past 12–18 months.
This is not trivial. I think we can start to see some of those streams of growth start to slow down. Let's not forget that we still have the regulations, we still have the tightening, cybersecurity needs to stay at a very high level, and we have to keep racing ahead with technology. You need to combine, and I think here, Karol, the stage is set for you because I can see your activity in consulting, technology consulting, is about organizing this transformation, what order to do things in. I'm going to be brief: I saw most of your episodes, and I want to congratulate Accenture. Congratulations to you, Jowita, as the leader in the Polish digital world, I think you're the most recognizable.
The topics were very interesting, I was able to extract lots of knowledge about leadership, cyber, cloud technology. So a big congratulations to you. - Well, nothing to do now but thank you! - Thank you, that's very nice. Don't get complacent, though! Thank you very much, I also would like to congratulate you as Paweł did. This was definitely an entertaining series, I can't wait for the next one.
Awesome, thank you, and let's hope it will help to educate many and inspire them to bravely delve deeper into more technological topics and also take more people with them. - Absolutely. - We want to keep inspiring, and want to host such inspiring guests as you. Thank you! - Thank you very much! - Thank you.
It's almost sad to say, but it's time for us to conclude the sixth, final episode of our Accenture Review TV series. It's not easy to conclude an episode that in itself was sort of a conclusion. We discussed many important subjects. From my perspective, there are three key takeaways.
The first is that the client at the center of attention, or rather the person. As Paweł Jakubik said, it doesn't matter if it's a patient, client, or citizen: we have to treat them just as well by providing remote access to our service and safe access to these same services as well. The second thing is the virus, however that may sound, has caused an incredible amount of change in our world. A change that we, in business, were able to get through quite well thanks to technology. Technology has helped us a great deal in ensuring continuity. It also helped companies avoid bankruptcy.
In fact, they kept growing much faster. And the last thing: right this moment, we have to start thinking about what we can do not to lose this outstanding pace, to not lose the energy and keep growing as fast as we have been and introduce so many changes, both technological and business in nature, to our environment. And I'm very glad we put emphasis on education. Without it, there can be no technology, there can be no development in the digital transformation without educated employees.
And this goes both ways. First of all, there is a high demand for purely technological employees, people who can work in these tech positions, because we know businesses need experts and we have a market shortage. There've been many incentives for people still seeking to carve out a career path in order to entice them to keep educating themselves and maybe pursue jobs in IT or tech. The second topic we need to keep in mind is that not only people working in IT need to have a grasp of the technological world. Everyone employed in business needs to be part of the digital transformation, part of this change and understand technology to use it in the best ways possible to help increase automation and develop their organizations. That's what makes the digital transformation expert a second mandatory job for all.
This was our last episode in the series. We'd like to thank all of our guests, all of our viewers who watched us. I think right now I can invite you to join us here next time for our next series and next episodes. - See you soon! - See you soon! Have a great summer and a quick return.