CES 2024: Survival of the boldest

CES 2024: Survival of the boldest

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Welcome. Thank you for joining our panel discussion this morning. You know, we're at the epicenter of innovation, aren't we? I mean, the past couple of days here at CES, it's just been extraordinary. I've seen some things that I never expected to run into.

I was telling some of my colleagues here about the singing toothbrush, the robot companion for my pet. I've seen tires for my moon buggy that I didn't know I needed. I have seen innovation in this room, which is pretty extraordinary with the brain gym and some of the other things. And what we're going to do is we're going to spend a few minutes with this panel, myself moderating, to talk a little bit about how companies spark innovation in their organization. How do they create an innovation culture and how do they keep it going? And I think this will be really the engaging thing. Now, I wanted to do this panel for one reason.

Every time I go to visit a client, they always ask me: “How do I do innovation better?” So now I finally get an opportunity to ask my clients, who I also admire their innovation capabilities, some of the same questions that they that they ask me now. We'll go ahead and get started here in just a second. But I thought I would also say one thing, that I've always been a fan of Henry Ford.

And he said, you know, if I asked my customers what they what they wanted, I'd be making faster horses. And my belief is that there's some truth in that. It’s not entirely true, but there's some truth in that. But it's up to us as enterprises and organizations to be thinking ahead of the curve about what's important for our customers, our business partners, and our employees. And I've assembled a crew here to talk us through how they develop and foster innovation in these types of environments.

We'll start off with a quick introduction. I'm Adam Burden. I'm the global lead for innovation here at Accenture. And my job is to oversee all of our research and development and incubation efforts for new services that we offer to clients. And Chris and Kevin will introduce themselves. Kevin, you go first.

So Kevin Rhatigan with Comcast, I'm the VP of Growth Experience Technologies which essentially it's just a fancy way of saying I have delivery of all the platforms from marketing through sales ordering ultimately to when you tune in, or activate your voicemail. So all those products must work. So. Chris Halsall Senior Vice President, Global Operations Chief Technology Officer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. So as you might imagine, we use really small font on our business cards, but it's really a three part job. Number one is you think of operations, it is what you traditionally think about, procurement, quality, manufacturing.

The second part is development of tires; tire technology, tire products. 00:02:55:23 - 00:03:05:15 Chris Helsel And then the third is actually an interesting area, we're doing our digital development for intelligence and tires. And even there we do our business model incubation.

So awesome. Mary? Hi, everyone. Mary Hamilton, I'm going to be innovative and skip the title. My job is really to just to bring the best of our innovation capability, so a lot of what you see here, to our clients, especially here in North America. Fantastic.

All right. I'm going to give everyone a 30 second question to get things kicked off before we get into the core of this. What technology excites you most in terms of its capabilities and likelihood that it's going to create disruption in your industry or even personally that it makes a difference for you? Is there a technology you look at and say, “that's just amazing”? Yes. So that's a great one for me. It's a AR/VR and when I especially look at sort of like fun from our industry, both combining connectivity and entertainment, but more importantly, commerce is truly when it's starting to become to life, sort of the blending of all those experiences.

And it just opens up the world to a lot of experiences that personally, like, I am not a good shopper, so I need to make commerce a social experience. I am absolutely not allowed to pick out my own clothes, luckily. So it is great that with AR/VR I can start to actually have my wife and daughter give me advice as I'm going through even sitting in my living room.

So it's that's really excited me going forward. Awesome. Chris? I'd highlight high performance computing and I have an opportunity to be on the industry board for the exascale computing. And actually the United States national laboratories have all come together and they've established the first exascale computer in Chicago, in Argonne and, to geek out a little bit, that means you could do 2 billion, billion calculations per second. What it really means is we could really get after things like modeling, weather, climate change, you know, new drug discoveries and relevant as new materials. Extraordinary. Mary? I'm going to go with material science, which was actually my degree in college, and I never thought I'd get back to using it, but just being able to sort of programmatically at the molecular level be able to create actuators and sensors within materials.

So, we're talking about one of our trends in the body's electronic, you know, think about all the materials that we wear, you know, how can those sense and actually help us on a day-to-day basis. Well you won't be surprised that I won't be able to resist telling you the one that excites me the most. And actually artificial intelligence all being around us and stuff. Yes, it excites all of us. But for me, it's actually battery chemistry. I think that our world is in desperate need of better ways to store energy.

Unfortunately, the times when we need electricity the most is when the sun's not shining and the wind's not blowing, right? And we need a really efficient way to store energy for all of these amazing electric cars. It's not sustainable what we're doing right now and here at CES, I've seen some really crazy breakthroughs in crystal battery architectures that charge almost instantly and can preserve, you know, have the energy density much higher. And I think it's going to make a huge difference for all of us in the future. Yeah. So I mean, I remember in college in my material science class with them saying “battery tech is the hardest thing and that's going to be…” It's here in front of us. Well, you heard about some of our enthusiasm for the things that we do.

Let's talk about how we inject some of that enthusiasm into our own organizations. I'm going to begin with a question for our panel here, which says, how do you foster a culture of innovation at your company? So maybe, Kevin, you could start to tell us how you do that at Comcast? Yeah. So it's it really is, I would say, an investment. You have to set aside capacity. How many times have we seen the, you know, we'll get the one through end list and “these are the 50 critical projects we must deliver.

Oh, by the way, we're going to cost X percent. Oh yeah. And by the way, innovate.” And that's really where we want to that point. I always want to innovate the list and how we do the intakes, but I look at it as sort of one setting aside the capacity, you need to free up the resources so you're serious about it, you need to give them – in our case, we give free space. We have lab weeks, we do tech innovation.

We're able to, fortunately with Accenture that use the garage as often as possible as well. And then finally, I would say, though, it's more encouragement. It's funny when you just give people permission to innovate, how much they embrace it and just start coming up with stuff.

And then I would say, it’s more just giving permission more than just the idea people. I personally had a lot of folks that come into my team too, like, “I want to be a part of Tech Lab Week, but I don't have an idea”, and it's really important to make sure that people understand that innovation is taking the idea to life and you can be part of a team. So we actually do like a whole almost like an auction, if you will, a draft. Someone may have an idea and then they get to draft from the rest of the org of who they want to work on that project for that particular week.

So it's really more, I would say, like, you know, freeing up the space, giving them the tools they need and then more importantly, just encouraging and giving them permission. That's awesome. What do you think Chris? One thing I've used with our organization, because I think we all have a tendency to have strong marketing teams and things and maybe back to your Henry Ford, where they're going to ask your R&D organization, “give me just 5% better this” and so what we did was put something in called Bold Goals and what they were was… “geez if we can envision we had such a capability and one of them is change the all renewable materials by 2030”, just as one example and the organization immediately says, “well, we don't know how to do that”. And we said, “Well exactly”. You have to go out and partner with people, find new solutions, just pedaling faster. What we do isn't going to get us there.

So it really forces heads up. Secondly, though, is immediately, “well, we can never do that”. So you're going to have to convert them to optimists. And that's really come from well, “just tell me what would have to be true”. “Don't tell me why you can't do it, what would have to happen?”. And then when they, they know.

And then you say, “let's go do that”. “Go ahead, go work on that”. And then they're like, “Yeah, but you won't give me the money”. So you better give them the money, because otherwise then they say, “Oh, you just pulled the rug out from under me and you're not going to support me anyway”. So those have been kind of three basic steps I think that really get things moving.

Great. Mary? Yeah, so I would say, you know, with Accenture, we're quite a large company, over 700,000 people. So, you know, we want innovation everywhere, right? Every touchpoint with our client, that's really important.

But we also want to be center-led through that innovation. We want to have a focus and a drive. And I think it's really about balancing where we're so fortunate in having all these touch points with so many amazing clients, so much industry knowledge, we can really understand what are the challenges and problems that are out there in the world. So you can be very, you know, problem, challenge-led in our innovation.

But at the same time, sometimes the solutions to problems and challenges maybe aren't that… they're incremental, right? But if you're center-led, we're also pushing and driving that innovation as well. So I think for us, it's a really interesting marriage of understanding the problems and challenges that are out in the world and facing our clients, but then bringing this focus of what is coming and understanding what's here at CES and, you know, the best thinkers at universities and within our, kind of our innovation org and then matching those up and pushing it back out. Yeah. You know, I, I agree with you, of course, because you and I are in the same innovation organization.

I also think that it's important having a culture of innovation, thinking about that failure is success to a degree, that it's okay when you get something wrong, just fail fast, right? And understand that you're going to learn something from it and move on afterwards. That to me is something that's guided me a lot because it feels like I fail a lot. So that's good because I recognize it and I change what I'm doing and move forward into trying something different. So let's switch gears a little bit and talk about a specific disruptive technology. You told me something that maybe personally impacts you or your company already, but in what ways do you see a disruptive tech or a series of technologies as instrumental to the success of your company? So is there something out there you've observed at CES? Maybe there's a technology on the horizon, something with Quantum, maybe a new change in AR/VR, Kevin? That you feel like is just going to fundamentally change the way that we operate and it's going to introduce new sources of revenue or allow us to move into an adjacent field.

I’d love to hear what you have. Yeah, yeah. So starting with… sort of leading on with… there's really a combination of both ARVR with the combination of Gen AI. The main thing is, if you think about it, certainly from an entertainment perspective, sports and live sports and how with AR/VR that becomes a completely immersive experience, it really opens up a lot of new perspectives, I would say.

The other one that I'm really excited about with really sort of leading on the Gen AI is we mentioned sort of the cost of innovation, and it is an investment, with the Gen AI, it allows us to really sort of put into more hands the ability to quickly take an idea, now to fail fast or innovate and bring it to market without the need to have a whole infrastructure. And so it's also sort of exciting when I look at that Gen AI if I think about where certainly from my perspective with this industry is changing so quickly is sort of the fact that everybody will ultimately become agile in a way it used to be sort of like, “Oh, that's what tech guys do because they don't like to plan”. And ultimately the ability to be able to go quickly with Gen AI from iteration, ideation all the way through the market in a matter of, in some cases, days. I mean, we're going to be marketing shows that never existed until somebody walked in and we recognized that they liked that particular combination.

And so that's just exciting. When I think about the pace of change in this org and everywhere else. Do you attribute Generative AI in combination with AR/VR, do you think that it's going to really accelerate your ability to take advantage of it then? I think it's going to... it worries me tremendously because… what it really allows us to do is strategically….

I look at my roadmap and all of our platforms are not necessarily scaled out to handle… the notion that we're good at sort of like generating content. And in ARVR that has been through a development. But it could be the case that just launch a show, a new sports, a live event. All of that comes together in a matter of seconds. And yeah, we we've made some similar observations, Mary, and some of our own R&D, you know, around this combinatorial impact of certain technologies, certain disruptive tech that they feed off of each other and then accelerate even more.

Love to hear what's got yourself excited there at Goodyear, Chris. Well maybe I'll keep going with the thread on high performance computing because we think about development of new products and with the disruption in mobility we all just need to learn to work completely different. Huge investments are needed to move to electric, to move to autonomy. And the only way you're going to get to those is to find ways to do your core work so much better.

And so, you know, we've had a 30-year journey with Sandia National Laboratories building out tools to where we don't have to build and test tires. And not having to build and test has huge implications across the corporation. Number one is speed to market, where we could get to market in 50% of the time. We spend half as much on development of these products and just on software and the cost of the same licenses. We've saved $300 million just over the time of our relationship.

So where does that money go? Well, that same simulation capability produces a lot of data. And who needs a lot of data? People building out algorithms and the things we're doing for tire intelligence and now connecting those into an intelligent braking system. And hopefully making the world a little safer for people to drive and move around. So it's almost a flywheel, you know, that you get something that technology like this and you don't maybe understand exactly what it can do.

But once you start doing it, yes, it saves you dollars on development. But here it's enabling a whole lot of other things for us. So I’d still stay with that one. All right.

Awesome. Mary, what do you think? Well, I mean, look, we're a people business. So I think some of the technologies that we've seen are highly relevant. Generative AI.

We're already experimenting with one of our invested partners, Writer, figuring out how to do how to use generative AI in our marketing materials. And so it's about, you know, how can we create more, better content, right? You know, marketers are… just take, for example, the Tech Vision, right? We need imagery that looks like this or like this. And, you know, for this particular asset and being able to get those more quickly right at their fingertips, I think that that just adds a lot of value.

But I'm also going to cheat and I'll kind of add to, you know, I think some of the neuroscience of really understanding wellness and well-being and stressors and where people are and when they're focused, when they're concentrating, when they're in the flow and when they're not, when they're challenged, you know, especially in some areas of our consultancy, making sure our people are healthy and doing well and that they’re at peak performance. Yeah. So I think I would be remiss if I didn't mention our Technology Vision to an extent, that launched this week. And you know, there's a collection of technologies that make that possible. So our theme this year around Human by Design, I think, introduces new possibilities in every industry, in every government, otherwise.

And it's about how artificial intelligence and especially Generative AI is making technology more accessible than ever, and that democratization is going to amplify the capabilities of people, you know, the impact on productivity is undeniable. But in our business, the four of us, we really care about innovation. Right? And I find that that that the Gen AI tools and this Human by Design concept, it makes me more creative, it makes me think about things that I hadn't expected and sparks new imagination. And that amplification possibility is really pretty remarkable. Now, we should be able to come up with our own ideas too, though let's not forget that.

But I just give you one example. I was working with a toolset that we've been building that helps us write software, custom software faster. And I had asked it, I said, “I'd like you to help me add a wish list feature into this ecommerce software”. And I kind of knew what I wanted it to do, but I just I wanted some help to, you know, write the code and the epics and user stories and other things.

And it came up with this whole thread around like sharing my wish list out on social media so that people could buy me gifts, right? Like, I didn't even think about that. But that's, that's where I think that this creativity is really… yeah, I got a couple people laughing that's a pretty good idea, actually. But in all seriousness, I think this concept of amplification of people that that really changes the ability of us to be more creative and more innovative for our clients and for ourselves as well. Yeah. And I think it also challenges us when you know you have more bandwidth to be creative… you know like we were doing some stuff here up on the Vu screen where we, you know, we were generating shoe design ideas and actually the inputs to those, you know, I start to think, oh gosh, I can be more creative in the inputs that I'm even giving it because it can come up with crazy stuff, right? So it challenges us to be more creative in that way too. You know, we're in a world where I think every industry is being disruptive in massive ways.

My twin brother works in the legal industry and Generative AI is completely changing how they how they do their work. When I think about the industry for example, Chris, that you're in… flying cars… I mean, it could have an impact at some point, I guess, on people's need for tires. But in Comcast, certainly, you know, the impact of regulation, the unbundling of services, people wanting to stream things on their devices as opposed to fixed line TVs. I mean, we're seeing this everywhere.

And I think that you know, this is in our hands, right? We're supposed to be.. we're the innovative ones that are going to invent the future of tomorrow. So the question here is, how does innovation play a pivotal role in the future of your industries? And you might think about something like it more broadly, like the industry in general or for your particular company in order to respond to this.

But I look at this area as, you know, this is in our parts of the organization where we're the center, the core of innovation of our companies. And our leadership is looking at us and saying, “how are you going to reinvent tomorrow for us to continue to thrive and to, you know, to deliver on the promises to our shareholders and our employees and others?” And there's a lot of weight on our shoulders. So go ahead, Kevin. I'd love to hear what you guys have planned in the in your industry in CMT.

So now you know what keeps me up at night is exactly that question. So it's like you said, I think we're all learning as we go in a lot of cases here as we as we innovate. I look at it sort of like twofold when you look at sort of like just sports and streaming, how much that's different going to be from today? You tune into, like you said, you stream on a program, it could be in the future, you're streaming a program, you have a game where you're actually going live stream because you can play the players. Certainly we have all the aspects of merchandizing, you love the jersey, I want to click it.

All of that is coming together. Today in our industry a lot of those are sort of like discrete work streams and now we have to bring them all together into one experience. And that alone just means our platforms have to be able to adapt to the total change in the market. We used to be able to have months of advance notice like, you know, what’s the deal? What we're going to do.

Now, you potentially have weeks, days, if not, to know how everyone else is reacting. And where I think we try to foster it the most as we know we're going to sort of stumble and figure it out as we go together is within our culture of innovation, making sure that everyone sort of embraces that notion of change. And you got to get comfortable that what's happening today is going to change tomorrow. And a lot of people like myself get excited about that and lean in, but it's really sort of making sure that we have all the platforms that can expect change and that includes scaling and everything else.

But that's the biggest one because we are very much discrete and we have to be able to build a platform that we don't know how it's going to be used in a year from now even. I like that. So it's about building for change. So that's really that, that's really great. And you know, I, I'd like to believe that we've done some similar things at Accenture and other places and also for our clients that we build software and business systems and others when we deploy them in this way. But boy, that's it's an expensive proposition sometimes to do that.

So there's a real, real balance there. So, Chris, what global challenge is, is Goodyear tackling and helping in the in the industry that you're operating or you’re working in? I'd probably start with, you know, we all have a big competition for talent and making jobs better for your talent creates a lot of good things, right? Not only for your corporation, your bottom line, but, you know, obviously people engagement, that whole social aspect of sustainability. So I’ll start with that one and so you think of your gen AI and we've done some work here and I think it's really about giving people more time to do the satisfying part of the job. So we took all our documents, you know, of all our years, 125 years, we have a lot of documents and materials is our core. And so we took all of that information. We presented all of those documents into the capability.

And lo and behold, now, you know, you could be a brand new out of university chemical engineer and have access to all a lot of the learnings like this of somebody who's been there 35 years. And so you don't start them out doing very basic work. They get to start out right, you know, right on some of your cutting-edge stuff. And so, you know, you make those jobs more satisfying. It's efficiency.

But boy, you know, people are really engaged. And I think all of us want, you know, our folks when they come in to go home and know they won. Right. And that's from doing satisfying work. The second thing is maybe I'll just keep going with the sustainability. You know, I mean, all of us have a challenge, whether it's the materials you're using – we're a heavy materials user – and many of the source of those materials has been petrochemicals.

Right. And so we're doing a big transformation on this and using these technologies to do that discovery and what are options for us and again, you get those people much more efficient. They have time now to really go after those challenges because, you know, you still have to keep your products of today, you know, top notch.

But, you know, I think that the sustainability really pulls on a lot of these technologies. And how it will benefit our ability to make the progress we need to make. Awesome. So, Mary, our industry is a little bit different, right, than the products industries and communications and high-tech industry. What things are out there are we working on? Yeah.

So I think there's a few things. I mean, again, we're a people business. I think there's an element of time and space and place that we deal with, right? How do we engage with our clients? How do we be onsite? How do we understand and work with teams? I think some of the technologies around metaverse and spatial compute can help with that, although there's still no replacement for being you know, we've all seen it, right? Being here face to face. But how do we get the right blend? And also think about the environment and you know, as we're flying back and forth, how do we find the right balance of how we work? I think there's also going to be whole new job sets and types of work that we do, obviously with Generative AI you know, the role of prompt engineer never crossed anyone's radar, you know, until the last year.

And now it's a workforce that we're already building and then rapidly growing. And what that skillset’s going to look like to maintain code that might not be definitive right? Code might be ever evolving. That might be a whole other set of roles and way in which we work.

And then to your point, you know, how do we maximize talent? You know, I've never seen anyone that had to do list, right, or a set of things that they're doing that that they were able to get through everything. Right. This stuff should make us more efficient, should make us be able to do more with the people that we have. So, Mary, you don't get through your to do list every day? [Laugh] I get the important things done. [Laugh] I have to add to that it just a little… we, you know, we look at the services that we do in the consulting industry all the time and say, well, which of these are likely to be subject to automation or, you know, should we be disrupting ourselves around or cannibalizing our own work around, and where should we be expanding and creating new capabilities and, you know, probably many folks in here, maybe my panel is not aware of like so we're getting into the science tech, space, space tech and others, what can we do in microgravity that would be helpful and interesting to our clients? Is this an area of business that we should be in? So we'll do experiments in and things like this and say, “is this a viable business for us to be part of? Is this a good thing for us to participate in?” And then bring some of those ideas and innovate with our clients and I think that's, I don't know, bold and unique to a degree. And it's also really amazing that we get opportunities to think about that, like, what are we going to do to invent tomorrow? To a degree.

And I think the hardest part of that is the timing; getting the time right of when that business is going to... We always overestimate when it's going to become important and underestimate just how big of an impact it actually is. Okay, audience, get prepared. If you have a question or two. We're more than able and willing to pass some of those questions on to our panelists here. Or if you have a question of me, I'm happy to try and respond to it as well.

I did have a question for this group because it's something that's always in our on our minds here at Accenture. We kind of feel like, you know, the pace of change will never be as slow again as it is right now. And staying on top of things is really hard. And my people always ask me, “Adam, how do you stay on top of the technology trends that are out there?” “And what are the things that you read?” And by the way, if I pay one of you, will you say, “I just read your Tech Vision report”? Please. But how do you stay on top of technology trends and the things that are out there and important to your business? Like what is it that you stay in touch with and makes you, you know, a great innovator for your company? Is there something that's that helps you? Besides the Tech Vision report? Besides the Tech Vision report! Okay. $1 to Kevin. I mean, obviously, a lot of it is conferences like this.

I would say we've also started within certainly the industry and Comcast especially opening up more forums just to have discussion to your earlier point, there's so much happening, it's almost impossible for an individual to keep up to it. But if you get sort of like that, that collegial atmosphere, if you will, of people sharing, you're able to at least get sort of the hints and then you go, “okay, let me go deep on that one”. But it really is looking out across all the tech trends, ChatGPT is huge about that and just, I would say, it used to be that I would research to get the latest trends.

Now is more I try to get together in a social event with as many people to start to hear what they're researching, if you will. Because maybe if I get enough people together, we can come up with a little bit of the broad aspects of what's out there. Just so much is happening so quickly. Yeah, absolutely.

And I love the idea too, like I don't I don't find that a lot of innovation comes from text messages and emails. It's when you get people talking, you know, when I have a crazy idea and I get a couple of people together and say, “okay, I have something a little nutty. I just want to run it by folks and let me know what you think”. That's where things really get interesting. And then Adam expects them to already be built.

Cause he envisioned it. Mary's like “this happens a lot”. [Laugh] So, Chris what… Well, I'll tell you, I don't. It's impossible for me to keep on top of all the tech trends.

Some of my teams here, they may say, “oh my God yeah he's really good at this”, as I ask them a lot of questions. I'll be like, Gen AI, what the heck does that mean to us? You know? And then somebody gets homework and luckily they have the talent to go get that done. So, you know, I think as a leader, you just have to be pretty darn inquisitive, right? And so always be reading or interacting and then just come back with good questions. But make no mistake, it's the talent in your organization that's really going to go figure out what it means to us. You're not going to do that from C-Suite. [Laugh] Okay At least I can't.

But one experience we had is really build a network and I'll just give you this quick journey. It was only five years ago we came to CES for the first time as Goodyear, saying, “Oh my gosh, these mobility trends are coming, what the heck are we going to do?” And we at least knew what the trends were. Okay? From there, we put two people in San Francisco with no office.

And just said, “Go meet people. Tell us what this means to us”. Those people right now lead a 50 person digital development center that we never had an idea that we would do or need. And what do they do in there? They pursue these technologies and they bring them to life, but they don't just do it on their own. They're doing it with partners they meet.

And how are they doing that? They go to the networking events, they have the meetings, they get together, whether it's an event like this or it's a something, just, “hey, let's go have lunch and have those collisions”. So you know, I think the network would be the thing I'd add. Make sure you get a lot of network work going on around this technology. All right. My answer is similar.

But yeah, I was going to say all the incredibly smart people I get to interact with on a regular basis. I mean, you know, my researchers, you go and talk to any of them is blown away at the depth and, you know, the brilliance that they come up with. But then it's about connecting the dots, right? So for me, it's talking to our clients, talking to our industry leadership, talking to our researchers, talking to researchers at universities, talking to, you know, other research labs.

And then it's like, okay, wait, if we put that and that and that together, you know, if we put the brain gym together with the Lamborghini Telemetrics and then, you know, put a knowledge graph on top of that or, you know, training, you know, like putting the pieces together and then kind of testing it out with other smart people who have the business challenges, you know? And that's where I think you start to see the trends. So, you know, I feel very fortunate that I get to interact with a lot of clients. So you kind of get this bubbling up of, all right, what's coming to the top? The pace of change, though, is something that's just extraordinary. It's a fire hose, right? Every day. And I think it's, you know, that we democratize the ability to be innovative in Accenture and we, you know, provide people the pathways to come and share the things that they're doing and they get excited about.

That's what I think sparks innovation in our cases. One example that I that I love. One of my favorite things that Labs is working on is this experiment they're doing called Brain to Image. And I showed a little demo of it yesterday to just a small group, and they were a little blown away by it. But basically what it does is it looks at electroencephalographs and says, can, you know, well, first of all, we're able now to, I guess, communicate with whales.

I don't know if people know this, but we figured out whale language and, you know, I guess, you know, figuring out how to talk to our dogs and cats and other things is next. But one of our researchers said, well, I've seen some stuff with music and EEGs being able to tell like what music people are listening to. I wonder if we can do this with pictures. So we've done some work now where we've actually taken an electroencephalographs and passed them through an AI model and then into a generative AI model that recreates the picture somebody is looking at. So somebody would be looking at a picture of a goldfish. Gen AI produces a picture of a goldfish and it has no idea other than the EEG input as a, you know, as a piece of data.

And our researchers get so excited about this. You should see the glint in their eye when something like this sort of clicks and it works. And then they bring it to us and we say, “that's incredible”.

You know, the implications for something like that on product design or education, how do we apply that into our industries? So we do a lot of original R&D that our researchers, we kind of turn them loose a little bit. We're not exactly sure how it might be applied, but we really quickly say, “can we use this to actually improve human condition and otherwise?” And I think those pathways are really important. But if we didn't if we didn't democratize the ability to be innovative in Accenture, I don't think we would have a chance of staying on top of some of the pace of change that's out there. And I think along those lines, one of the things we're thinking about bringing back was the idea of this Innovation Grapevine. Right.

Thank you for bringing up the Innovation Grapevine. It's my it's my favorite tool set. So it's something we built years and years ago. But it's always like, you know, there's probably a few degrees of hops between an idea that you have and someone who can connect it to or a challenge that you have. And some are connected to the right idea. And so how do you use technology to democratize and make those connections between things? Yeah.

And the people aspect of this is so, so important. You brought this up, Chris, as well. And Steve Jobs was a big proponent of this. He's like, you know, he says, “why is it that Apple can invent a new a new product and another company has a, you know, an R&D budget, 100 times of it?” Of course, this is when Apple was this big, not the most valuable company in the world.

And he says it all comes down to the people. So if you have the right people, I don't care how big your R&D budget is, you will come up with the most magical innovation on the planet. And part of that is the culture of innovation.

You create the excitement, enthusiasm around it, the willingness to fail and other pieces. So let me pause here for a second, see if anybody in our audience wants to ask a question of our panel or of me. Otherwise, you're going to hear me ask one more question myself. Anybody? Anyone? Bueller? There’s gotta be a question out there. Okay.

All right. I will take one more question from my from my list here. This is an interesting one.

So we work in very competitive industries, each one of us. And there are, however, some things that kind of transcend being competitive, like how do we how where should we cooperate with our competitors and where should we collaborate to create innovation? And I think it's incumbent upon us to solve some of these really big challenges in this way. You know, Chris, you and I talked about this a little bit with sustainability, that maybe there's opportunities for you to work with some of your competitors in this space. What's the best way to think about that context? Is there is an example that you have? Yeah.

So, you know, electric vehicles obviously coming in and becoming more and more of the car park. It really brings an emphasis on well, what emissions are left on a vehicle? And there's basically a couple, two worn parts, one’s the brakes and one's tires. There's a lot of talk. Well, what do those particles mean? And a problem that, you know, we've solved in the past, just go get better tread ware, still probably needs a better solution and it's one that the whole industry needs. Now, you've said it, we're a competitive industry, so these things have to be very appropriate. But we have a really robust industry group.

Yeah. And so we sponsor research together and that research really looks at, you know, these particles. What are they, where do they go? What could be the implications for them? And how do we do some work as a total industry to understand where is the innovation needed to go after this. So I think around those common problems are some really good ones. Now obviously delighting just customers on your routine things. You know you're going to do that more on our own.

There are opportunities to do that if you're just simply trying to leverage common R&D expenditure. But when I think of those problems that you just say to yourself, “wow, as an industry, this is now emerged. We all have to get after this”. Industry groups are a good way to do that.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think we have a unique view across multiple industries and multiple clients in a given industry. So I think as we see some of these new technologies arise, you know, we have an opportunity as Accenture to bring together and say, “let's solve some of these foundational things”. Sometimes, you know, around the ethics aspect of Gen AI, you know, the biases, right.

And, you know, ensuring diversity, thinking about those kind of things, thinking about standards and how we drive those to create that baseline, to then amplify a technology that's going to, you know, boost everyone. The other thing I was going to add was just sort of like leaning on the industry is we all have strong industry forums. But I do see certainly with the Gen AI aspects, it's the notion that we're so much different in our industry than in your industry. Those barriers are breaking down. So a lot of times it's expanding even beyond our industry forums and looking at how a unique proposition and one issue that you may not think at any application, guess what it really does when you look at it under cover from, you know, close enough down..

A great way of looking at it. So I’ll just closes this part on… I do think there's some common problems in our industry that it's incumbent upon us to work with our competitor responsible frameworks. Right.

We, you know, this is just a greater good thing and something that we should do. Cybersecurity, the challenges with ransomware and others. What can we do to bond together and to share information? I know that our security group does a lot of that around sharing with some even, you know, with other folks that are competitors and others, because it's the right thing to do.

And I think that that greater good needs to be woven into even our innovation capabilities as we think about how do we fix things going into the future. Yeah. All right. Well, that was awesome. Thank you.

I want to just give you guys a couple of key takeaways from this. Set your bold goals, build for change, right? Mary and Chris both added around how important it is to have an innovation network, and then it's connected and let's come together to solve some of the world's greatest problems, because innovation is what's going to make the difference for us being leaders or followers. And I think that this esteemed crew is definitely on the leadership track. So thank you everybody, I really appreciate the participation in our audience. Thanks, guys.

2024-04-09 22:35

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