Using technology and human ingenuity to improve people’s lives

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Using Technology And Human Ingenuity To Improve People’s Lives Using Technology And Human Ingenuity To Improve People’s Lives
Content creators Michael Fry, Shauna Davitt, Greg O’Shea, Lauren Whelan and Marty Guilfoyle at the Digital Skills Day in Accenture’s offices
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With innovations such as the Metaverse, AI, machine learning, and chatbots – which would have been considered ‘science fiction’ not too long ago – now being not only a reality but a necessity to operate in business and life, how can companies stay on top of changing technologies in order to remain current, reach younger generations, and also help improve the world?

Accenture is leading the charge in that regard, having launched its global campaign called ‘Let There Be Change’ which brought the organisation’s purpose to life. "Our purpose is to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity," says Etain Seymour, head of marketing and communications, Accenture. "We do that for our clients, our people, and our community. What we are aiming to do is deliver on that promise to make change a reality in Ireland.

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"One recent example of this ingenuity in the Irish market would be in the area of supply chain, looking at a post-pandemic world where human behaviour has changed dramatically. What we’ve been doing is taking the technology and our people and bringing them together to look at using technologies such as AI or cloud to predict consumer behaviour and manage real-time solutions and making sure there are supply chain improvements to deliver a better customer experience."

Accenture doesn’t limit this innovation to its clients, but has utilised the Metaverse to create an immersive experience to onboard new hires into the organisation. "We have a collaboration space where our new hires can go in and visit one of our 100 innovation hubs around the world, meet other colleagues, and also start to learn about Accenture before their first day."

Jen Speirs and Etain Seymour at the launch of GApp campaign

Bridging the GApp

With over 5,500 people working for Accenture in Ireland, the organisation is very focused on the skills needed for the future workforce. The Accenture Digital Index published earlier this year, examined the digital divide in Ireland, including the level of digital skills in younger generations. It found that only 25 per cent of 18-34-year-olds are comfortable with their level of digital skills and, perhaps more worryingly, 34 per cent said they were not motivated to learn digital skills, a key component in today’s working world.

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This is why Accenture has developed GApp – a CV builder and digital skills chatbot on WhatsApp, powered by AI. The purpose of the initiative is to help younger users increase their digital skills and digital literacy through creating CVs using their mobile device, or watching technology tutorials to find out more about innovations such as cloud and blockchain.

Jen Speirs, digital divide sponsor for Accenture in Ireland and executive creative director within Droga5, part of Accenture Song, explains that GApp is "a digital skills academy in your hand – on your mobile. What it allows you to do is create a CV, explore work opportunities, or find other resources on there to help with where you are in your digital skills. It’s AI-powered, so it actually learns as you go and learns as more people explore it, so it can be really tailored to where you are, whether you want a more basic internet search or want to learn something more advanced such as AI, data or cyber security."

Speirs says that there is a ‘digital divide’ that needs to be addressed – especially, in the 18- 34-year-old age group. "When we talk about the digital divide, we’re talking about the gap between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to digital skills.

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"When we look at the workforce – which needs to be increasingly digital as we’re moving toward an increasingly digital society – the need for digital skills is increasing, so we need to ensure all of society is best-placed to work in that digital workplace.

"Approximately 30 per cent of young people were lacking in those basic digital skills that enable them to able to create a CV and get their foot in the door in the job market."

Accenture understood that reaching the younger age group wasn’t going to be accomplished by creating ads to tell them they had a problem. They had to reach them where they already were – on their mobiles – and where they were comfortable, such as on WhatsApp. In addition, the team knew it would have to have a different approach in how it reached this audience so worked with content creators such as Greg O’Shea, Marty Guilfoyle and Lauren Whelan – people that this age group would already know and be used to engaging with. They held a content creator day and digital skills challenge in the office and looked at how they could upskill people using the technology Accenture had created.

"It’s very difficult to connect with that cohort, particularly those who are being left behind," says Seymour. "We wanted to do something different and create our own rule book. One of the ways we did this was by working with content creators – from music, comedy, fashion and so forth – and connecting with them via WhatsApp, which is where they spend a lot of time.

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"So there’s natural way to engage with this specific cohort, rather than Accenture approaching them – they’re not going to listen to a corporation communicating with them in a traditional way. A lot of kids might already be on Instagram or TikTok, which is one of the reasons we brought in content creators to use and connect with that young audience."

Seymour says, "we also wanted to support reaching a broader audience through a print and digital advertising campaign at key commuter spots around the country."

Seymour says that GApp has been very well received. "We had 20,000 people in the first week signing up. There were a lot of people interacting with building CVs and lots of people learning about AI or Microsoft PowerPoint skills and so forth. By incorporating a QR code to bring people directly to the app, we found that people could scan and access it on the go."

She says the majority of users did identify that they didn’t have the skillset they needed, so "we identified they had a problem and helped them upskill them in terms of what they needed" not only helping them realise they had a problem, but giving them the motivation and skills to go forward and operate in a new digital world and making a change reality in Ireland.

 

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