February 23, 2018

Communications Service Providers Must Re-Skill Their Workforces in New Technologies to Capture Growth Opportunities, Accenture Research Finds

Human-machine collaboration could boost revenues by 46 percent, but only six percent of business leaders plan to increase investment in reskilling programs significantly

NEW YORK; Feb. 23, 2018 – Communications service providers (CSPs) must take immediate steps to reorganize and re-skill their workforces to collaborate with intelligent technologies if they are to capitalize on the significant growth opportunities these technologies promise, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

A communications-industry cut from the report, “Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce?,” found that three-quarters (77 percent) of the senior executives (“CXOs”) in the communications industry surveyed believe that adopting intelligent technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) will be critical to their organization’s ability to differentiate themselves in the market. Accenture estimates that if CSPs fully invest in AI and human-machine collaboration, they could increase revenues by 46 percent in the next five years and boost employment by 21 percent.

Although the use of AI and automation within CSPs is accelerating – with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the CXOs surveyed saying they expect to automate tasks and processes in the next three years – the majority (63 percent) expect intelligent technologies to create more jobs than they eliminate.

Additionally, 63 percent of workers in CSPs believe that intelligent technologies will make a positive impact on their work, 77 percent believe that the technologies will save them time on their tasks, and 66 percent believe they will enable a better work-life balance.

Despite this optimism, however, only 25 percent of CXOs believe that the workforce is ready to work with AI, and workers and CXOs alike agree that reskilling is a major challenge preventing its adoption. Only six percent of CXOs plan to increase investment in reskilling programs significantly, and almost half (47 percent) of workers and 43 percent of CXOs cite the lack of time to train during the workday as a major barrier to developing new skills.

This is a challenge that CXOs should address immediately, because the research found that while planning for the smart workforce, CXOs are already prioritizing advanced workforce planning for future skill needs and redefining roles within the organization. In fact, more than half (56 percent) of CXOs have begun redesigning jobs within their organizations to some extent, and an additional 32 percent have already done it to a large extent.

“There are a number of ‘no regret’ moves that CSPs are taking to move beyond efficiency, gaining the speed and broader organizational agility that are now strategic imperatives,” said Sevasti Wong, who leads the Talent & Organization consulting practice in Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology operating group. “There’s a huge opportunity to leverage AI and advanced analytics to drive new growth, but they will need to master what we call applied intelligence – the rapid implementation of intelligent technologies and humans working together in new ways. That’s why it’s critical for business leaders to align their workforces to new business models and invest in innovative reskilling programs to help their people create new value.”

In the report, Accenture makes three key recommendations to CSPs embarking on their digital transformation journeys:

“While the majority of CSPs are investing in intelligent technologies, only about one in six are planning to significantly increase spending on training programs to build new skills,” Wong said. “This indicates that they’re missing a huge opportunity to equip their people with the capabilities they need to work with intelligent machines and drive competitive growth."

Accenture combined quantitative and qualitative research techniques to analyze the attitudes and readiness of workers and business leaders with regard to collaborating with intelligent technologies. The research included two surveys: one of 865 communications-industry workers across skill levels and generations, and another of 100 senior executives in the communications industry. The surveys were conducted between September and November 2017 in 11 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. The research also included economic modelling to determine the correlation between AI investment and financial performance; in-depth interviews with C-suite executives; and ethnographic interviews with individuals who have been working with AI.

About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 435,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

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Molly McDonagh
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