Accenture plans to invest $3B into AI

As global interest in artificial intelligence continues to soar in popularity, more corporations are jumping on board, including the global technology consulting firm Accenture PLC, which announced today that it plans to invest $3 billion into the technology over the next three years.

Artificial intelligence, especially generative AI, has taken the world by storm in the past year with the advent of chatbots such as OpenAI LP’s ChatGPT in November, which is capable of producing humanlike conversation, answering questions, providing research assistance, writing poetry and more. Other examples include image-generating AIs such as Stable Diffusion, DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, which are capable of producing vividly photorealistic creations from natural language descriptions given by users.

The development of these technologies has driven what Accenture Chair and Chief Executive Julie Sweet called an “unprecedented interest in all areas of AI.”

As part of the investment, Accenture plans to double its current AI talent pool to 80,000 professionals, the company said, through a mixture of hiring, acquisitions and training current employees. The company said it intends to invest in assets, industry solutions and ventures to develop new skills that are AI-focused across the entire spectrum of technologies – not just generative AI, but also diagnostic and predictive.

In order to make it possible to bring more businesses on board with AI, Accenture said that it is creating accelerators for AI readiness across 19 distinct industries. This will also take the form of prebuilt industry and functional models for startups and projects to take advantage of new generative AI capabilities.

“Companies that build a strong foundation of AI by adopting and scaling it now, where the technology is mature and delivers clear value, will be better positioned to reinvent, compete and achieve new levels of performance,” Sweet said.

To further advance the use of generative AI for clients, Accenture’s Center for Advanced AI will also dedicate itself to extensive research and development for use cases of the technology, and other emerging AI capabilities.

Accenture isn’t the only consulting firm with its eye on AI technology. PricewaterhouseCooper LLC threw its hat in the ring in April with a $1 billion investment following a partnership with the legal AI firm Harvey. Ernst & Young Global Ltd. announced a $2.5 billion investment in AI in 2021 over three years and the professional consulting firm Bain and Co. partnered with OpenAI.

Investments in AI have been increasing over the past six months, with Microsoft Corp. pouring $10 billion into OpenAI. According to Pitchbook, generative AI investments are expected to reach $42.6 billion alone by the end of the year.

Companies are also bracing for the expected disruption generative AI will bring to many industries and workforces. IBM Corp. CEO Arvind Krishna said that the company could replace up to 7,800 non-customer-facing jobs, mostly by pausing or slowing hiring over the next few years. At the same time, AI could be used to enhance the current jobs of experts by providing them the tools they need to offload and automate knowledge work and other tasks.

“Over the next decade, AI will be a megatrend, transforming industries, companies, and the way we live and work, as generative AI transforms 40% of all working hours,” said Paul Daugherty, group chief executive at Accenture Technology.

Navigating these efforts to determine how AI will affect business practices and how to incorporate different types of artificial intelligence measures and use cases into current development will become a critical issue for clients, said Accenture.

Photo: kathika/Flickr

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